Originally Posted By: aquinas
Iím appreciating Wrenís post here - low standards and lack of parental demand for rigor being the problem, reinforced by a lack of advanced STEM teaching credentials.


Achievement requires rigor and discipline - in any field.

I am currently working toward a second bachelor's degree in math after having taught K-12 math to my own children and high school algebra to other people's children. I literally failed every math class I took in junior high and high school, so I had to relearn math as an adult from the bottom up in order to teach it properly.

My point is that I am continually astounded at just how much needs to go right in a kid's math education for them to be truly successful in, say, multivariable calculus. You need proper instruction and regular practice year after year after year with no significant gaps. You need someone forcing you to pay attention to the concepts rather than just default to pattern matching. You need to see how it all fits together. You need to learn how to learn difficult material and how to deal with the fact that you will be wrong again and again and again.

I agree with Wren and aquinas that culture is the problem. You have a school culture that that thinks that math should be fun and defaults to putting kids in the slower, easier track at the first sign of trouble. You have a family culture that isn't willing to ensure that kids get the instruction and practice they need day after day, year after year. And you have a national culture that does not value what it takes to succeed in STEM, even as its members crave all of the technological goodies that derive from it.