New Books Network

Pawan Dhingra

Hyper Education

Why Good Schools, Good Grades, and Good Behavior Are Not Enough

NYU Press 2020

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Asian American StudiesNew Books in EducationNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books Network April 17, 2020 Michael O. Johnston

Pawan Dhingra‘s new book Hyper Education: Why Good Schools, Good Grades, and Good Behavior Are Not Enough (NYU Press, 2020) is an up-close evaluation...

Pawan Dhingra‘s new book Hyper Education: Why Good Schools, Good Grades, and Good Behavior Are Not Enough (NYU Press, 2020) is an up-close evaluation of the competitive nature of the United States education system and the extra-curricular and co-curricular activities associated with them. Dhingra reveals the subculture of high-achievement in education and after-school learning centers, spelling bees, and math competitions that have spawned as a result of a competitive markets in higher education and in life. This world is one in which immigrant families compete with Americans to be intellectually high-achieving and expect their children to invest countless hours in studying and testing in order to gain an upper-hand in the believed meritocracy of American public education. This is a world where enrichment centers, like Kumon, are able to capitalize and make profitable gains from parents who enroll their children as early as three years of age. There are even families and teachers who avoid after-school academics that are getting swept up in the competitive nature of this subculture called hyper education.

Dr. Dhingra draws from more than 100 in-depth interviews with teachers, tutors, principals, children, and parents for this study. He delves into the narratives that parents of elementary and junior high school provide about this phenomenon and examines the roles played by schools, families, and communities. He moves beyond the “Tiger Mom” caricature that is often given to Asian American and white families who practice hyper education and asks if it makes sense.

This book provides a behind-the-scenes look at hyper education from parents who have their children participate in Scripps National Spelling Bee, math competitions, and other national competitions, as well as after school learning centers. Dr. Dhingra shows that parents observe an increasingly competitive market for higher education and perceive good schools, good grades, and good behavior to not be enough for their high-achieving students.

Pawan Dhingra, Ph.D. is a Professor of American Studies at Amherst College.


Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is a Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. He earned his doctoral degree in Public Policy and Public Administration from Walden University. He researches place and the process of place making as it is presented in everyday social interactions. You can find more about him on his website, follow him on Twitter @ProfessorJohnst or email him at johnstonmo@wmpenn.edu.