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    Joined: Sep 2007
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    From the BBC. It ranks US states against OECD nations.

    US 'in denial' over poor maths standards

    Quote
    Among children of parents with a low level of education, only 17% were proficient in maths, compared with 43% of children from well-educated families. But this standard of maths among well-educated families in US is well below their counterparts in other countries.

    In Poland, 71% of children from well-educated families were likely to be proficient in maths. In Germany, 64% of better-off children were proficient at maths and 55% in France.

    Even such a poor performance was unlikely to set off alarm bells, said Paul Peterson, report co-author and professor of government at Harvard University and director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School.

    "There is a denial phenomenon," says Prof Peterson.

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    I think alot of this stems from parents and society saying that "I'm no good at math, I can't help my kid do their math and they're only in 3rd grade" and other such things while their kid is sitting there listening. I think that while there are obvious problems in the way our education system works, the larger problem is that there are so many adults who seem to be proud of the fact that they can't do math well. Being a math/science teacher I hear it all the time from parents and random adults I meet when they find out what I teach.
    It is annoying and I always say that they should change their attitude or their child will form preconceived notions at their ability to perform well at math.

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    Agree!! The attitude that is passed on from parents/teachers to students is very important!

    Another big problem is the practice of breaking down math into a large set of a few dozens of elements that a teacher can check off on a list. The math work that my kids do in elementary and in middle school is so mechanical and procedural, that it misses the whole point of math as an organic system of thinking and problem solving. I have heard so many parents and educators say (in the media and in daily life) that the US education focuses on creativity and not rote memory. Yet when I look at how math is taught in our supposedly really good district, and when I recall how I learned math in a country that is regarded by the US educators as focusing on rote memory, and my reaction is "you've got to be kidding me!"

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    Completely agree, Kerry. I am neither a math teacher nor am I in a STEM field, but I feel so irritated to hear "I am not good at math" from so many adults. Would they be willing to say "You know what? I am almost completely illiterate! I can only read at a third grade level!"

    Somehow, math idiocy is socially accepted and even seen to be endearing-??

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    There is also an attitude from people I talk to that the U.S. is behind, but their school isn't. I hear it from friends in many states and many districts. Everyone thinks their school is the exception so they don't need to worry about it.

    I think this attitude also keeps change from happening.

    Edited to add: When people see a hard 3rd grade problem that they can't figure out; it must mean the school is good in math. I don't get the logic, but it makes sense to them.

    Last edited by Mom2Two; 06/02/14 06:00 AM.
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    I'm going the other direction personally, I think it's a result of U.S. families and parents simply not being "hungry" enough. We assume we're always going to be taken care of. When you get "hungry", that is, when you understand that your achievement is directly related to a reasonable quality of life, suddenly it becomes a lot more important and you MAKE such things a priority.

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    That's a disturbing article. At a certain point most of the talent for math/science is probably going to have to be imported from other countries (which is already happening to a large degree). I think it's interesting how sports always seems to win over academics. Even among the middle class or more affluent families, they are willing to spend hour upon hour each week shuttling their kids from practice to practice, but how many hours do they have their child do math? Or read? It is culturally acceptable to "push" your kid with sports, and sign the kid up for every sport possible, but god forbid encouraging a child to spend more time with academics.

    There is a family in our school from India and they do place a lot of importance on academics. I don't see them as being particularly pushy, just very involved compared to "American" parents. Teachers in the school have made the nastiest comments to them about how they should back off and let their DD play with Barbie dolls and take her to gymnastics. Ironically, their DD does do those things. Their kids are very bright and excel naturally with academics, but all the teachers can see is that the parents must be pushy and demanding since the kids are so advanced. They probably think of me the same way, but I haven't had any comments yet. Half the time my kids didn't/don't even do their homework so I'm not sure how they could call me "pushy".

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    Originally Posted by blackcat
    There is a family in our school from India and they do place a lot of importance on academics. I don't see them as being particularly pushy, just very involved compared to "American" parents. Teachers in the school have made the nastiest comments to them about how they should back off and let their DD play with Barbie dolls and take her to gymnastics. Ironically, their DD does do those things. Their kids are very bright and excel naturally with academics, but all the teachers can see is that the parents must be pushy and demanding since the kids are so advanced. They probably think of me the same way, but I haven't had any comments yet. Half the time my kids didn't/don't even do their homework so I'm not sure how they could call me "pushy".

    This attitude is very common in our district, too, even though it is a very good district. Plenty of parents and teachers point fingers at kids who excel (and their parents) without knowing anything about whether these kids excel: whether it's because they have pushy parents, or because they just care about academics and work hard, or because the *average level* academics is just too easy. But no one has any problem if a family pushes the kids in sports. It's OK if kids are tired out after sports practices, but it's an outrage if a kid gets mentally challenged or even tired once in a while doing academic work. I've had very unpleasant exchanges with school teachers and private teachers about this, and I've seen the same conflict of attitude whenever a group of parents and teachers sit down to talk about instructional standards.

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    To push this point even further, is it right to advocate college education, or education in general, just as a way to potentially boost income and to get more "stuff"? What happened to learning for the sake of learning, learning as a way to better oneself and to know the world and our cultural heritage? If the goal of education is income, then of course people don't have motivation once the society reaches a reasonable level of wealth and prosperity.

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    Originally Posted by master of none
    In some cultures, if you excel in academics, it moves you along the SES chain, gives you opportunities you otherwise might not have. Education is the key to success. That sort of thinking. In the US, there are statistics that show college grads make more money, but then we say anyone can go to college. That's our national goal. If anyone can do it and you don't see other people working hard, why should you?
    This blog post discusses an article finding that the U.S. labor market rewards skills more than in most other countries.

    http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/12/st...mart-skilled-workers-more-than-americas/
    Study: No economy in the world rewards smart, skilled workers more than America’s
    James Pethokoukis
    American Enterprise
    December 27, 2013


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