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Professors: US "In Denial" Over Poor Maths Standards

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the one-plus-one-equals-spoon dept.

Education 688

thephydes (727739) writes "The maths skills of teenagers in parts of the deep south of the United States are worse than in countries such as Turkey and barely above South American countries such as Chile and Mexico. From the article: '"There is a denial phenomenon," says Prof Peterson. He said the tendency to make internal comparisons between different groups within the US had shielded the country from recognising how much they are being overtaken by international rivals. "The American public has been trained to think about white versus minority, urban versus suburban, rich versus poor," he said.'"

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danger will robinson (4, Insightful)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47063083)

if you teach kids to add, pretty soon they'll start wanting to think for themselves and only bad things can come of that.

Re:danger will robinson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063149)

i agree!
Think of the kids! really! now! you don't like that do you?
Imagine what it feels like for the kids!

Re:danger will robinson (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063193)

I tried to explain the income distribution to a community college student and she had no clue what the hell I was talking about. The one percent can sleep easy knowing fewer and fewer kids even know what a percent is!

Re:danger will robinson (5, Funny)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 5 months ago | (#47063329)

Addition is a gateway skill -- it tends to lead to multiplication.

Re:danger will robinson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063481)

Multiplication will lead you to exponential intelligence. The US doesn't want people to be too smart. How will you control them?

Re:danger will robinson (5, Funny)

qwak23 (1862090) | about 5 months ago | (#47063493)

If we're not careful, this problem could grow exponentially.

math? maths? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063089)

No wonder other countries count better, they don't just have math, they have maths!

Professors poor in geography (4, Insightful)

Ultra64 (318705) | about 5 months ago | (#47063091)

"South American countries such as...Mexico"

Re:Professors poor in geography (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063111)

Actually, you can't find that in the article itself, or the report, so you'll want to blame the submitter instead.

Re:Professors poor in geography (5, Informative)

bledri (1283728) | about 5 months ago | (#47063135)

"South American countries such as...Mexico"

No, the quote from the article did not contain the words "South America," so it's the submitter or editor that is poor at geography. And quoting. And the first sentence was not attributed to the Professor in the article nor in the summary.

Re:Professors poor in geography (0)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47063377)

I always thought of the americas as comprising three sections - america, north america (i.e. canada), and south america (i.e. mexico and below). the description in the summary seems fine to me.

Re:Professors poor in geography (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063423)

So the US is part of Central America? The results are not surprising, then..

Re:Professors poor in geography (0)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47063435)

central america is a synonym for america which is a synonym for US.

Re:Professors poor in geography (0)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 5 months ago | (#47063463)

Mexico is technically part of North America, in an area that is sometimes referred to as "Central America."

Re:Professors poor in geography (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063215)

fuck beta

It has nothing to do with standards, just money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063095)

And for god's sake if kids in rural Kentucky are better than people in some areas in the world those teachers are pulling off a goddamn miracle.

Not only better (2)

vikingpower (768921) | about 5 months ago | (#47063097)

Other countries than the US do not only count better, but more and more other countries are beginning to count more....

Geography too.. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063099)

When did Mexico become a South American country?

Re: Geography too.. (1)

VTBlue (600055) | about 5 months ago | (#47063115)

Professors of Maths don't have time to understand silly applied topics such as Geography which limited to the R2 or R3 space.

Re: Geography too.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063231)

RTFA
that was added by the submitter and not something stated by the professor in the original article

Re:Geography too.. (2)

SpankiMonki (3493987) | about 5 months ago | (#47063325)

When did Mexico become a South American country?

Mexico is south of Americuns. You typo natzis really needs to Goetz overs yourselfs.

Coded Racism (5, Interesting)

KalvinB (205500) | about 5 months ago | (#47063105)

Morgan Spurlock made the idiotic comment about how Norway is "homogeneous" right before transitioning to his piece on a charter school with minority students who were excelling.

SES or "Socio-Economic Status" is the most common race bait thrown around in the education system. Anyone who has experience outside the public education system figures out real quick that you can't look at the skin color or bank account of a student to see how well they're doing.

Racism is the last excuse that our failed public education system still clings to. That and "we don't have enough money."

It's just one of the many reasons why despite being certified to teach high school math, I have no intention of ever teaching in a public school. I'm more interested in helping out at my daughter's small private school. My summer project is overhauling their library system. I've already fixed all the laptops as well as they can be. If possible I'd like to go into a part time teaching role to help out.

The school is filled with students from a variety of racial backgrounds and financial circumstances and oddly enough I can't judge their grades by any of that.

Re:Coded Racism (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063219)

Sounds like "fuck the poor" to me.

Socio-economic status never stood for race, you're just conflating the fact that minorities are more likely to be poor than wealthy with the correlation between SES and educational outcome. The relationship between SES and economic outcome has been extensively studied, and in my opinion boils down to one thing: opportunities. Low SES kids can't afford basic school supplies, can't move to good school districts, can't study abroad, can't intern for free, etc. etc.

You can't pretend that a lack of money doesn't cripple your chances of receiving a quality education.

The Real Fucking (-1, Flamebait)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#47063299)

Sounds like "fuck the poor" to me.

The real Fucking the poor undergo is to ensure they must attend public school.

A universal voucher system would quickly correct this inequity, but the teachers union cannot have that and so the poor remained Fucked by design.

The poor can learn as well as anyone, in a good school.

Re:Coded Racism (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063513)

No, it has little to do with the fact that being poor means you don't have opportunity. Being poor means your parents probably don't value education, so you probably don't value education, so you probably don't get an education.

If you are rich, you probably got that way by being educated, so you value education, so your children value education, so your children get an education.

It's not like opportunity has no effect, just that opportunity doesn't mean education. In other words, throwing money at the problem doesn't solve it. That's not to say money doesn't help, but it's better spent on giving the poor kids breakfast or community outreach than school supplies.

I've always believed that a child who wants to learn will find a way to learn. The hard part isn't teaching them -- it's getting them to want to learn in the first place! And that starts in the home, not in the school

dom

Re:Coded Racism (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063241)

It's not the schools that need more money; it's the families. Children are behind from the beginning (kindergarten) and don't catch up because in general, their environment is not conducive to learning. Parents often can't get involved because they have to work multiple jobs (or don't speak/read English well enough...). There is also more trouble from violence, gangs, drugs, etc. Socio-economic status has a lot to do with it.

(Of course, there will still be stellar children who succeed in spite of it all, but they are not the norm.)

You know, maybe you should try teaching in a school that is almost completely made up of children from a very poor socio-economic status before you claim to know it all and spout bullshit.

Coded Racism (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063267)

I spent a couple of years teaching in the Boston Public Schools. Your analysis is too simplistic. I had students who had recently immigrated from Cape Verde, who were fluent only in Cape Verdean Creole and whose parents never completed the 8th grade. I also had a student who had been in foster homes her entire life. I discovered after awhile that she couldn't see the board and that her foster parents were unwilling to pay out of pocket to buy glasses - she had broken two pairs of glasses and hit the limit for what MassHealth would pay for that year.

You can't just ignore the impact that these experiences have on a child's ability to learn. It's completely unfair to compare outcomes from private schools, which would never accept a student who barely spoke English or a sullen, resentful product of the foster care system (not that these children would ever apply) to schools that are required to accept all comers.

There are many problems that public schools create for themselves and have nothing to do with students, but the idea that socio-economic status doesn't effect student outcomes is just not accurate. c.f. this NYTimes article on the University of Texas for a week ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/magazine/who-gets-to-graduate.html?_r=0

Not very coded Bigotry on your part (-1, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#47063313)

It's completely unfair to compare outcomes from private schools, which would never accept a student who barely spoke English or a sullen, resentful product of the foster care system

How do you know that? That's a pretty damn big assumption on your part.

And in a safer environment perhaps her glasses would not tend to get broken...

Re:Not very coded Bigotry on your part (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47063387)

a place isn't exclusive if it doesn't start excluding people.

Re:Coded Racism (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 5 months ago | (#47063311)

Racism is the last excuse that our failed public education system still clings to. That and "we don't have enough money."

White flight is extremely real. Resources are distributed very unevenly.

And yet "racism" doesn't begin to encompass the range of reasons that some schools end up with 90%+ minority populations and with low funding.

Re:Coded Racism (1)

ttsai (135075) | about 5 months ago | (#47063393)

Anyone who has experience outside the public education system figures out real quick that you can't look at the skin color or bank account of a student to see how well they're doing.

While it's true that skin color and wealth cannot be used as independent indicators or predictors of academic performance, the correlation is nonzero. I would even venture to guess that the correlation is more than weak. Yes, correlation is not causation, but correlation is a definite indication of, well, correlation, i.e., there's a relationship.

Racism is the last excuse that our failed public education system still clings to. That and "we don't have enough money."

It's an excuse when we don't like the idea, but a truism when we do. Racism may not be a relevant cause of poor academic performance, but it's statistically clear that racial factors have significant correlation to academic performance. [Please no correlation is not causation garbage -- that type of thinking is just an excuse to avoid further discourse.]

I rule at math (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063113)

I remember a completely normal kid in high school who couldn't tell time on an analog clock when he graduated high school. I went to MIT, he went to the NFL, we're both rich. F*ck Chile and Mexico.

There is no such thing as "maths" (-1, Troll)

The Other White Meat (59114) | about 5 months ago | (#47063129)

The abbreviation of the word mathematics is not "maths". Mathematics is not a plural word, rather, it is plurale tantum, which is Latin for in plural form only. The reason for this is that the root word mathematic is not a singular noun, but an adjective. To create the noun, an "s" is added, resulting in the noun mathematics. However, when a word which is plural tantum is abbreviated, the "s" does not come along for the ride.

In short "maths" is the British equivalent of "nucular" and should be avoided by anyone who knows better.

Re:There is no such thing as "maths" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063159)

yes, because the brits just copied english from the states, and didn't do a good job at that.

Re:There is no such thing as "maths" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063185)

Just because you're too thick to recognize dialects doesn't mean that a word you don't use isn't a real word. Maths is a word. Aluminium is a word. Noo-kyuh-luhr is a sign of illiteracy.

Re:There is no such thing as "maths" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063249)

Actually people who say "nucular" are using a latin pronunciation and is probably why "nucular" is most frequently heard in well educated states like Massachusetts and not pathetic hill billy states like where ever the fuck you are from.

Re:There is no such thing as "maths" (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 5 months ago | (#47063407)

Hilarious. Dialect includes pronunciation. By your example "cah" is a sign of illiteracy, not just the way a Bostonian pronounces car.

Re:There is no such thing as "maths" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063225)

This is a BBC Article, so "maths" is the correct term in the article - and for that matter in most of the English speaking world.

Only the USA and Canada use math. Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, India and the rest of the English speaking world use maths.

Of course, one should point out that English was defined in Great Britain with American being a regional bastardisation, a minor dialect.

Re:There is no such thing as "maths" (4, Informative)

maliqua (1316471) | about 5 months ago | (#47063251)

I'm Canadian its always been maths in my classes..

Re:There is no such thing as "maths" (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#47063305)

Me too, eh?

Clearly, we need to SPEND MORE MONEY! (5, Interesting)

mi (197448) | about 5 months ago | (#47063145)

Despite quadrupling per-pupil costs of public schools since 1962 [ed.gov] (inflation-adjusted), the education remains the same or is getting worse. In some particularly well-managed cities, the costs are even higher and the results — even worse [cnsnews.com] , than national average. This article is about Math, but ability to read remains rather sub-par as well — with only 30% of 8th-graders, for example, considered "proficient" readers [mediamatters.org] .

Clearly, we need to spend more money...

Re:Clearly, we need to SPEND MORE MONEY! (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 months ago | (#47063191)

We might need to spend more money on helping people improve their memory so that they don't, say, just as a random example, post the same shit twice in one thread on Slashdot.

Re:Clearly, we need to SPEND MORE MONEY! (1)

mi (197448) | about 5 months ago | (#47063321)

Slashdot "ate" the first post — it was not showing up on the page, and in my history of posts, it was showing up blank — no title, and no contents. Of course, by the time I finished redoing it, the first copy appeared properly.

With that behind us, do you have anything to say on topic?

Re:Clearly, we need to SPEND MORE MONEY! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47063275)

Nope, just spend it more sensibly. Like, say, reviewing the price for school books and realizing that the pages aren't made of gold...

wat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063153)

jew run schools + blacks = somewhere between mexico and chile IQ

Re:wat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063171)

If you think Jooz are running schools in the Deep South... Well, you're no smarter than these kids who can't add.

well of course... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063157)

> "The American public has been trained to think about white versus minority, urban versus suburban, rich versus poor," he said.'"

Divide and conquer the host nation is standard operating procedure for the international jew.

Must... Spend... More... Money! (-1, Redundant)

mi (197448) | about 5 months ago | (#47063163)

With per-pupil costs of public schools quadrupling since 1962 [ed.gov] (inflation-adjusted), and results remaining as mediocre as described in TFA — and getting worse — the only conclusion is, we must spend more money.

Not just Math — only 30% of 8th-graders nation-wide can be considered "proficient" in reading. And some particularly well-managed locales spend much more pupil, while producing and even higher share of illiterates [cnsnews.com] .

Re:Must... Spend... More... Money! (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about 5 months ago | (#47063197)

With per-pupil costs of public schools quadrupling since 1962 (inflation-adjusted),

Please explain how the link you provided supports your claim of a quadrupling of inflation-adjusted per-pupil costs since 1962.

Re:Must... Spend... More... Money! (1)

mi (197448) | about 5 months ago | (#47063367)

Thousands of apologies. I had that page book-marked, but — employing the best web-masters there are to be found, no doubt, the Department of Education has rearranged their pages. The information is now here [ed.gov] , or, if you (like myself) are having trouble accessing the Windows-powered site, here the Google-cache of it [googleusercontent.com] .

On the page, there is a table. In 1962 the "total expenditure" per pupil per year was (in 2011 dollars) $3,915. In 2010 it was $13,692...

Re:Must... Spend... More... Money! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063499)

What you need to do is get rid of that "no kid left behind" crap. Recognise that some kids learn faster then others, some kids learn differently to others (some learn by watching, some by doing, some by having it explained in excruciating detail over and over) and some kids just don't have the mental ability to do certain stuff well. Separate your kids into streams, with each group being of the same learning type, make sure no group gets too little attention. Have a higher teacher to kid ratio in the streams where the kids need more attention, give the fast learners more advanced stuff to learn, etc.

Finally, talk to your unions and make sure that crappy teachers get weeded out. The biggest shortcoming of any kid's education is having a bad teacher (we all have at least one teacher that we still remember decades after schooling that was bad). Having one crappy teacher can negate or waste an entire year of schooling...

they need to raise the bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063175)

I always took the most advanced math classes that were offered and I still didn't hit calculus until I was a junior in high school. Seems we had basic algebra from 6th to 9th grades. I think they should introduce it earlier. I was so eager to learn but there weren't many options back then.

Re:they need to raise the bar (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 5 months ago | (#47063255)

I was so eager to learn but there weren't many options back then.

Wait, you went to school before books existed and you're still alive???

First (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 5 months ago | (#47063183)

Teach the teachers mathematics.

Translation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063187)

... was a reflection of deep-rooted historical divides and disadvantages, [...] such as slavery and segregation.

Translation: With the exception of California (pro-science) and Texas (anti-science), states that promote creationism or suffer endemic poverty, fail maths. I wager those failing states have money-rich athletic programs as well.

Someone remind me: What was 'No child left behind' going to achieve?

Re:Translation (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47063283)

Pushing the standards low enough that anyone can stumble over the bar, even if shuffling his feet is all he can accomplish.

In my youth (2)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 5 months ago | (#47063189)

It was law that every high school student had to pass algebra, geometry, trigonometry before they could graduate.
They also had to take a class on the constitution.

Re:In my youth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063235)

Algebra, geometry, and trigonometry are still required, the standards for passing are simply very low. The class on the constitution has become a class or two about it without any depth.

Re:In my youth (3, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 months ago | (#47063253)

Actually average SAT math scores are as high as they've ever been in the US [typepad.com] (at least going back to the 1960s) after a big dip in the 70's, 80's, and 90's, which is actually very impressive since the percentage of students taking the SATs has gone way up. So as far as that goes, if the US is declining relative to other nations it is because of improvement on their part.

According to the linked article, one place that is nosediving in the US is California. Whether that is more due to immigration or per-student spending dropping behind the US average [cbp.org] due mainly to referendums on property taxes, I don't know.

Negro IQ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063199)

Negro IQ is on average 15 points below that of the Caucasian race.. Most counties of the deep South of the USA are predominately black. The average Negro IQ score is 85 points. (the same by the way as Koko the gorilla). Trying to teach mats to these people would be like trying to teach maths to Koko the gorilla.

Re:Negro IQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063205)

Well, there's uneducated, like these kids, and then there's ignorant, like you.

IQ and Wealth of Nations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063261)

Prof Lynn and Vanhanen wrote the literal book on this subject. Average IQs: Ashkenazi Jew 115, NE Asian, 105, NW White 100, Mestizo 88, Black US and Western Hemisphere 85, Sub Saharan African 70, Kalahari Bushmen and Australuan aborigines 60.

These findings are robust, averaging over 100 years of psychometric studies, and are quietly accepted as reliable by social scientists though never opnely discussed. Absent massive coerced dna mod there is no way to close the Black White achievement gap. None at all.

Admitting lots of low iq people into the West is problematic bc they demand reasonably a Western standard of living but can never with an average ... many are far lower ... iq of 85-88 ever earn one. Thus money must be taken by force from Whites and Asians to pay fr Blacks and Mestizos. A recipe for Balkan style wars.

apples and oranges (1, Interesting)

stenvar (2789879) | about 5 months ago | (#47063207)

The US is doing about average for OECD on math (and other areas), which isn't bad given the large number of immigrants and diversity of students and backgrounds. And given that our public school system is not all that different from public school systems in those other countries, we shouldn't expect ours to perform any better. Are there identifiable groups and regions that are below average in the US? Of course there are. That's true for other large countries as well.

The US could do better if we did things differently from other OECD nations; if we reduced our reliance on public K-12 schools and encouraged innovation, self-reliance, and diversity of approaches in education. But as long as people like Obama advocate mediocre European systems as a model, all we will produce is the same kind of mediocrity that Europe produces.

Re:apples and oranges (1)

dcollins (135727) | about 5 months ago | (#47063333)

I think your Google glasses were set on "opposite vision" when you read the article.

Re:apples and oranges (2, Interesting)

stenvar (2789879) | about 5 months ago | (#47063401)

Actually, I didn't pay that much attention to the hype in the article, I read the actual report. I suggest you do too.

If you actualy read the report, you'll see that PISA performance across US states is as widespread as math performance across European nations, and our national average is little different from averages of other large OECD nations. Therefore, the US isn't actually "failing" or "in denial". We have a European-style public education system for K-12, and it delivers European-style mediocre results.

Teacher education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063217)

The only people who should be allowed to make educational curriculum decisions should be Associates-Masters in a field. On that note, there should be no such thing as a teaching degree, it should be a minor for a Major in a field. The reason I chose Master's for the decision making is usually Doctorate holders are pretty eclectic individuals whom usually lose empathy, lose sight of everything, and completely screw everything up. Leave them for the research, leave decision making to humans who actually are still capable of interacting with people properly.

Money quote (0)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 5 months ago | (#47063237)

"The American public has been trained to think about white versus minority, urban versus suburban, rich versus poor," he said.'"

      Indeed, this is true. It's as clear an example as can shown for the toxic influence of class warfare by the left in this country for decades.

Re:Money quote (0)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 5 months ago | (#47063341)

I'm not even going to dignify your troll with a response beyond that simple statement of fact: you, sir, are a lying sack of shit.

Re:Money quote (4, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | about 5 months ago | (#47063343)

And yet all these better-performing countries have more leftist governments, stronger social safety nets, more concern about equity, and less economic inequality.

No surprises (5, Interesting)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | about 5 months ago | (#47063239)

From the article:

Southern states Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana are among the weakest performers, with results similar to developing countries such as Kazakhstan and Thailand.

Yeah, I teach math at a large university in the deep south, and this doesn't surprise me at all. Students are unprepared for college math classes, and I see a lot of behavior that I wouldn't have expected in a math class. For example, I always have students that try to memorize their way through class, mostly in calculus 1. They don't practice any problems, they don't try to understand the material, but they've got flash cards and highlighted notes and sticky tabs out the wazoo.

It's like they all had a bunch of "study skills" drilled into them in high school and no one ever bothered to explain that these are supposed to aid actually understanding the material. They're so used to just regurgitating things onto tests that I guess a lot of them really do think memorizing is understanding.

Now I realize the following is just anecdotal, but I know several people who teach high school math throughout the deep south, and all of them say the same thing: they aren't really allowed to teach. School administrators have a death grip on teachers' jobs. Teachers are told what, when, and how to teach the material. They're basically reading scripts. And of course they're all teaching to the state end of course tests too, probably because those are used to measure administrators' performances.

Re:No surprises (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#47063327)

Teachers are told what, when, and how to teach the material. They're basically reading scripts.

This is the real problem here. We need to abolish whatever part of the system is generating those demands, to free the teachers to actually teach. Some might do worse in a free-form system but I'll bet lots could do better when they could tailor teaching to the kids they have.

Re:No surprises (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 5 months ago | (#47063427)

First, we get rid of fuzzy math.

Re:No surprises (3, Funny)

qwak23 (1862090) | about 5 months ago | (#47063517)

Don't you mean second?

Re:No surprises (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063365)

In my first year of university my economics math professor had a problem teaching the class. Some students took grade 13 math in Ontario and were more advanced than the students from outside the Provence who only took grade 12. The quality of teaching was downgraded because there was not enough time to teach the basics to the outsiders and there was not enough time in class for the grade 13 students to have fun and play around with numbers. :) Got to love matrix algebra!

Thank you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063489)

I have seen similar problems in CS. I've not had enough from the same areas to make any public claims but it seems that certain areas of the USA and certain 3rd world nations teach by wrote learning / memorization and that is all their students know. I've only just begun to ask these students which state or nation they came from. I'm in the Midwest but southern accents immediately get my attention. It is painful trying to get them to listen and break away from a life long bad habits.... which have been positively re-enforced. Testing taking skills along with skimming and quoting from the book (or google) are their strengths. I have to do a whole lecture on problem solving just because so many CAN NOT DO IT other than divide and conquer on multiple choice exams.

I've noticed a trend with the younger students which I think has been greatly impacted by the revamp of the public school system towards standardized tests. I can't tell how much is google culture and how much is the "No Child Left Behind" nightmare. The trend is downward for all, some states just are slower to transition (I bet it is the ones with stronger unions who delay, which is in this case is a GOOD THING.)

I know some teachers in this area and their complaints are similar to the parent posting with the exception that they are still fighting. The push is towards the EXACT same thing and the pressure upon them gets worse every year. Two I know quit the profession, three retired earlier than they wanted because of all these laws. It was as if the whole USA was being transitioned to a Texan education (which was 2nd last when those laws passed.)

I have no problem placing blame here; you don't just experiment with all children in huge ways like this. Also, since the whole scheme they put into place is based upon simplistic metrics, it is going to morph into whatever produces good results for those metrics. (That is a bad thing.) The proper approach is conservative; where you keep doing what was done 60 years ago and for those who don't perform well, you bus them to specialized schools where you try out new techniques. Once they can learn how to learn THEN they get to go to college - and it may take a few years in the military before they are mature enough; the idea that high school kids need to jump right into college is just thoughtless.

At least I'm in college; where I just flunk people who are not serious without any guilt. So far I am still free to flunk the lot of them and as long as the rumor continues they know I WILL do it too! I actually get 9 hours of homework time per week out of my students and they complain like crazy (not realizing that for 4 credits you are expected to put in that amount of time - I get people asking how I do it and those student complaints only make me look better. ) It also helps to have a well planned syllabus since it's legally binding... I should make them sign it just to drive the point home. I'm not running for office; they can hate me, but I'm not going to turn out incompetent people for money.

public employee unions poison (1)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 5 months ago | (#47063257)

Even FDR recognized public employee unions would be fatal to the US. That time has arrived.

When public schools fail, parents have to step up with home schooling, private schooling, private lessons. Our kids finished calculus at 15-16 with some out of public school lessons. It was important to burn through the middle school and lower high school classes that are anchored by remedial students mixed with the average and superior students. Also getting the better teacher in a subject is important, No excuses, parents.

Re:public employee unions poison (4, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | about 5 months ago | (#47063323)

I would submit that the teachers' unions are practically the only thing keeping the U.S. public school system halfway functioning. The more the system has been taken over by non-teaching corporate-style administrators, the more it's gone down the toilet (and the more those administrators have used it as a stick to further beat down the unions). Foreign countries with stronger unions also have stronger educational outcomes.

The choice is effectively between having decisions on how students are taught made by either (a) Dilbert and friends, or (b) their Pointy-Haired Boss. Choose wisely.

Re:public employee unions poison (4, Informative)

stenvar (2789879) | about 5 months ago | (#47063525)

I would submit that the teachers' unions are practically the only thing keeping the U.S. public school system halfway functioning. The more the system has been taken over by non-teaching corporate-style administrators, the more it's gone down the toilet (and the more those administrators have used it as a stick to further beat down the unions).

There are no "corporate-style administrators" in public schools, there are only government administrators. Corporations are ruthless about improving their product and cutting costs, exactly the two things that are not happening in public schools.

It really takes a special kind of stupid to try to blame the failings of US public schools on corporations; US public schools have nothing to do with corporations, corporate governance, free markets, or any of that. The shortcomings of US public education is a joint effort of teachers, unions, government administrators, and politicians.

Foreign countries with stronger unions also have stronger educational outcomes.

Foreign countries who don't speak English also have stronger educational outcomes. Foreign countries where people drive on the other side of the road also have stronger educational outcomes. You can pull coincidences out of a hat, but that doesn't tell you anything about causality.

The choice is effectively between having decisions on how students are taught made by either (a) Dilbert and friends, or (b) their Pointy-Haired Boss. Choose wisely.

You assume that the only two variants of school systems we should consider are public administration-heavy schools and public teacher-and-teacher-union-run schools; both of those are lousy choices.

Education should return to being a state and local matter, and the federal government should get out of it; there is no evidence whatsoever that a single national standard helps rather than hurts. In addition, we should give parents and students more choice via school vouchers. Forcing parents to send their kids to poorly performing schools is a lousy idea.

Re:public employee unions poison (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#47063527)

I would submit that the teachers' unions are practically the only thing keeping the U.S. public school system halfway functioning.

It's really hard to take your claim seriously when you have things like this [reason.com] . Maybe things are different where you live, and that is why we have different perspectives. From what I've seen (and what that chart points out), unions are more interested in protecting bad teachers than they are in making sure kids get good educations.

Nice out of context quote (2)

sethstorm (512897) | about 5 months ago | (#47063409)

A different time, and for a different objection completely - but don't let that get in the way of your rant.

Then again, you're asking for an educational model that is not only less free, but also reduces opportunities for the rest of one's life based on that lack of freedom. If you want mandatory streaming in education, move to another country.

Back in the day... (1)

tquasar (1405457) | about 5 months ago | (#47063273)

My high school math teacher should have been teaching at a university, Jack would fill the room with equations and students had to pay attention to keep up. Algebra, plane geometry, solid geometry, euclidean geometry, matricies, and then Q.E.D.!.

If you're using PISA standards, it's not denial. (2)

sethstorm (512897) | about 5 months ago | (#47063293)

Given that most international academic testing doesn't control for admission criteria, the testing itself is defective. Countries that engage in mandatory streaming can look better academically(Europe, Asia) versus those that accept about everyone(US mostly).

Re:If you're using PISA standards, it's not denial (1)

anonymous_echidna (1019960) | about 5 months ago | (#47063531)

No, streaming does not make results look better. Countries that stream early, such as Germany, have found that while their top tier do very well, as expected, but the PISA results from other tiers do not perform as well as they might. It's partly due to early streaming greatly disadvantaging migrants, who might have caught up to their peers in higher level maths classes had they had the chance. PISA is not about heavy maths, it's about numeracy. It tries to measure the maths and literacy skills needed to navigate in modern society at school leaving age across a population. The countries that look better than they should are the ones who exclude large segments of the population from schooling at all (like excluding girls or particular minorities or rural populations from education). There you have children who become adults who are innumerate, but are not measured by PISA. As these countries start to educate their entire population, they will look worse before they look better.

If you think it's bad now. Common Core. (3, Interesting)

Chas (5144) | about 5 months ago | (#47063301)

Seriously. I've looked at the problems CC curriculum presents as "math".
The way they lay out and ask you to solve problems is insane. Absolutely and utterly BONKERS (and not in a good way).

If you think the US is bad at math NOW, wait until CC has had a few cycles to sink its hooks in.

You're going to have people actively HATING math in a way that'd be ludicrous even today.
And these people who'd be able to solve even a SIMPLE concrete math problem to save their lives.

Re:If you think it's bad now. Common Core. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063339)

I was hired to develop a fairly large scale Common Core platform. I walked away out of disgust once I reviewed the actual content. The U.S. public education system has problems, and from my experience, Common Core is /not/ the solution.

Don't look now... (0)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 5 months ago | (#47063303)

But that exact same segment of the population is only semi literate, has a grasp of history supplied almost entirely by cartoons on television, and quite a few them don't actually speak english.

So yeah... statistics are fun. But if you're going to be fair, please limit the population you're talking about to a segment that is both fluent in the standard language and ideally not from a subculture that is actively hostile to education in the first place.

In my school, we learned calculus in high school... this is a US public high school. So it really has a lot to do with what part of the country you're talking about and who in that part of the country you are addressing. From my segment?... we have nothing to prove.

Re:Don't look now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063467)

Uh, the point of the article is that in the US people make up excuses in us vs. them for to avoid actually seeing the problem, and you go ahead and do _exactly_ that!?!
You do realize how ridiculous that is?

Re:Don't look now... (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 5 months ago | (#47063501)

It doesn't mean it isn't true.

And furthermore, you're missing the significance of the statement.

We are not one people. You might as well look at the math standards for the whole northern hemisphere.

The United States is a polyglot society. If you can't grasp that then you have no business doing a statistical analysis of the united states.

The point is that parts of the US are doing just fine. Parts of the US are doing terribly.

If you want to improve the situation, focus your efforts on the portions that are doing badly and leave the rest of the country alone... you're as likely to retard those areas as help them.

Savvy?

Stop trying to generalize. Focus on the areas with an issue... do not waste resources on areas that are performing to standard or above.

American's don't even know what is miles-per-hour. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063335)

Remember this viral video?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qhm7-LEBznk

US vs Russia / China (1)

aralin (107264) | about 5 months ago | (#47063337)

Well... think US vs Russia & China instead. I bet that raise and fall of empires could be correlated to math skills of their citizens.

ugh MATH not MATHS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063389)

If you are going to talk about mathematics in the *US*, it's "math". I assume the submitter is from a Commonwealth country. My guess is Australia (in which case why you you really *care* what the "Deep South" thinks about MATH?

encouragement (1)

vasilevich (2969463) | about 5 months ago | (#47063405)

I believe in the USA. Get your act together now...

Isn't it obvious (2)

MrKaos (858439) | about 5 months ago | (#47063417)

Scientists and techs are portrayed as either evil or socially inept in the movies. Why would anyone value any form of education that led to that? As long the perception exists people aren't going to value maths, or any other, education that lead them to be enablers of society.

And those perceptions are bought to us by the same people who want DRM everywhere so they continue to harvest money for crap movies that have nothing new.

Sure. (0)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#47063429)

White vs everyone else, rich vs poor, urban vs suburban is all about the class struggle tenets of marxist ideology, which has been pushed by the state and thus the state run education system since at least the 1960s.

Who really cares? (1)

Powercntrl (458442) | about 5 months ago | (#47063443)

The students who excel at math will go on to become engineers, scientists, statisticians, etc. and the ones who sit in class all day drooling will get a job digging ditches. You want to see the average math scores go up? Let kids who hate math choose between a trade or college bound course schedule for highschool. God forbid parents actually admit their special little flower isn't college material.

I've often wondered why the public education system spends four years hammering this shit into people who have no interest in learning it. Replace it with one class explaining how you do math on an iPad, should the need arise and that's good enough. Sure, there's always the argument that if society goes to hell in a handbasket that there won't be iPads around to do math on, but let's be realistic - in a hypothetical post-apocalyptic zombie ravaged wasteland, basic survival skills will be more useful than being able to solve a quadratic equation in your head. Last I checked, they still don't teach marksmanship, water purification, shelter construction and gardening in public school, so they're clearly not worried about what would happen in a world where every computer suddenly disappeared.

Kumon Math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063461)

Math would be so much better if it were taught not class grade based but skill based. I took Kumon math lessons outside of high school to advance ahead of the class. The Japanese method teaches the student to be a master at lower math before they can move ahead. A 50% pass or move to next grade because you are older is not allowed!

Everything is fine, FINE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063477)

The last thing the political class and the 1% want is an educated public.

So let's mix up recent news on related topics (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 5 months ago | (#47063521)

Not sure what all this means when you put it together, but it seems like government policies are out of touch with reality of grooming candidates in the US, even to meet their own needs.

Indoctrinate vs Educate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47063523)

It's seems to me that most of these southern states schools like to indoctrinate their students rather than actually educating them. The map below shows schools that teach creationism and not surprising is most of them are in southern states.

Map of schools that teach creationism
http://io9.com/a-map-showing-which-u-s-public-schools-teach-creationi-1515717148

In denial? (0)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#47063535)

I've been hearing people claim that Americans are bad at math for at least two decades. How is it possible that we are in denial? That's all we hear!
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