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NYT: "Why Do Americans Stink at Math?"
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From the New York Times Magazine, a long article about how the Japanese have revolutionized the teaching of math in their schools using brilliant progressive methodologies invented in America.

Typical Japanese math class, 2014

But American math teaching in the public schools remains stuck in the era of Dotheboys Hall, Wackford Squeers headmaster (see video of what American schools are like in 2014).

But in Japan, no more Sage on the Stage or Drill and Kill:

Why Do Americans Stink at Math?
By ELIZABETH GREEN JULY 23, 2014

… Instead of having students memorize and then practice endless lists of equations — which Takahashi remembered from his own days in school — Matsuyama taught his college students to encourage passionate discussions among children so they would come to uncover math’s procedures, properties and proofs for themselves. One day, for example, the young students would derive the formula for finding the area of a rectangle; the next, they would use what they learned to do the same for parallelograms. Taught this new way, math itself seemed transformed. It was not dull misery but challenging, stimulating and even fun. …

Takahashi quickly became a convert. He discovered that these ideas came from reformers in the United States, and he dedicated himself to learning to teach like an American. Over the next 12 years, as the Japanese educational system embraced this more vibrant approach to math, Takahashi taught first through sixth grade. …

Takahashi was especially enthralled with an American group called the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or N.C.T.M., which published manifestoes throughout the 1980s, prescribing radical changes in the teaching of math. Spending late nights at school, Takahashi read every one. Like many professionals in Japan, teachers often said they did their work in the name of their mentor. It was as if Takahashi bore two influences: Matsuyama and the American reformers.

…With his wife, a graphic designer, he left his friends, family, colleagues — everything he knew — and moved to the United States, eager to be at the center of the new math.

Typical American math class, 2014

As soon as he arrived, he started spending his days off visiting American schools. One of the first math classes he observed gave him such a jolt that he assumed there must have been some kind of mistake. The class looked exactly like his own memories of school. “I thought, Well, that’s only this class,” Takahashi said. But the next class looked like the first, and so did the next and the one after that. The Americans might have invented the world’s best methods for teaching math to children, but it was difficult to find anyone actually using them…

The fact that countries like Japan have implemented a similar approach with great success offers little consolation when the results here seem so dreadful.

Okay, but how much evidence is there that the Japanese have actually attained great success by implementing these progressive American breakthroughs? Sure, the Japanese average higher math scores than Americans on the PISA test. But when you think about the Great Unthinkable, race, recent Japanese math performance doesn’t look too edifying. Here is the top of the 2012 PISA results in Math:

Shanghai-China 613
Singapore 573
Hong Kong-China 561
Chinese Taipei 560
Korea, Republic of 554
Asian-Americans 549
Macao-China 538
Japan 536

So, in the latest international math test, the Japanese do worse than Asian-Americans and worse than other Northeast Asian cultures, even perpetual slacker Macao.

Also, why is the Japanese afterschool math teaching business of Kumon, the essence of Drill and Kill, the most successful export of Japanese educational culture? A commenter points out that from a truth-in-advertising perspective, it’s admirable that Kumon’s logo features an unhappy child.

What about other races within America? How did they do on Math on the 2012 PISA versus the rest of the world? I’ll put all the numbers below the fold:



PISA Racial results for Americans on Math

With PISA results being released today, you are going to hear a lot about how stupid American 15-year-olds are, but smart analysts remember to always adjust for race.From the federal National Center for Education Statistics, a breakdown of 2012 PISA math scores showing how Americans of different races compare to the world. PISA scores are much like SAT scores, with an intended mean of 500 for the OECD (i.e., rich) countries and a standard deviation of 100. On PISA, Math is America’s worst subject (Reading is its best).
OECD average 494
Shanghai-China 613
Singapore 573
Hong Kong-China 561
Chinese Taipei 560
Korea, Republic of 554
Asian-Americans 549
Macao-China 538
Japan 536
Liechtenstein 535
Switzerland 531
Netherlands 523
Estonia 521
Finland 519
Canada 518
Poland 518
Belgium 515
Massachusetts-All Races 514
Germany 514
Vietnam 511
White Americans 506
Connecticut-All Races 506
Austria 506
Australia 504
Ireland 501
Slovenia 501
Denmark 500
New Zealand 500
Czech Republic 499
France 495
OECD Average 494
United Kingdom 494
Iceland 493
Multiracial Americans 492
Latvia 491
Luxembourg 490
Norway 489
Portugal 487
Italy 485
Spain 484
Russian Federation 482
Slovak Republic 482
U nited States 481
Lithuania 479
Sweden 478
Hungary 477
Croatia 471
Florida-All Races 467
Israel 466
Hispanic Americans 455
Greece 453
Serbia, Republic of 449
Turkey 448
Romania 445
Cyprus 440
Bulgaria 439
United Arab Emirates 434
Kazakhstan 432
Thailand 427
Chile 423
African Americans 421
Malaysia 421
Mexico 413
Montenegro, Republic of 410
Uruguay 409
Costa Rica 407
Albania 394
Brazil 391
Argentina 388
Tunisia 388
Jordan 386
Colombia 376
Qatar 376
Indonesia 375
Peru 368

From the federal NCES, a breakdown of 2012 PISA math scores for American students by race:

Below
level 1
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Level 5
Level 6
< 358
< 421
< 483
< 555
< 607
< 670
>= 670
Race/ethnicity
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
OECD average
8.0
15.0
22.5
23.7
18.2
9.3
3.3
U.S. average
8.0
17.9
26.3
23.3
15.8
6.6
2.2
White
3.6
11.5
25.0
27.8
20.3
8.8
3.0
Black
21.0
32.0
25.3
14.0
6.7
1.0
Hispanic
10.8
24.2
30.2
20.3
10.2
3.5
0.7
Asian
5.4
15.6
23.6
28.1
16.1
9.0
Multiracial
17.1
29.6
23.3
16.4
7.7
Cumulative: Bottom Up
OECD average
8.0
23.0
45.5
69.2
87.4
96.7
100.0
U.S. average
8.0
25.8
52.1
75.4
91.2
97.8
100.0
White
3.6
15.1
40.1
67.9
88.2
97.0
100.0
Black
21.0
53.0
78.3
92.3
99.0
100.0
100.0
Hispanic
10.8
35.0
65.2
85.5
95.7
99.2
99.9
Asian
2.2
7.6
23.2
46.8
74.9
91.0
100.0
Multiracial
3.0
23.0
52.6
75.9
92.3
97.1
100.0
Cumulative: Top Down
OECD average
100.0
92.0
77.0
54.5
30.8
12.6
3.3
U.S. average
100.0
92.0
74.2
47.9
24.6
8.8
2.2
White
100.0
96.4
84.9
59.9
32.1
11.8
3.0
Black
100.0
79.0
47.0
21.7
7.7
1.0
0.0
Hispanic
99.9
89.1
64.9
34.7
14.4
4.2
0.7
Asian
100.0
97.8
92.4
76.8
53.2
25.1
9.0
Multiracial
100.0
94.1
77.0
47.4
24.1
7.7
0.0

Tech note: I imputed Asian and Multiracial percentages below Level I and Multiracial percentage in Level 6, which were left out of report due to small samples sizes.

 
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  1. You or the software is using the RSS /link/ for the RSS title; ie in my RSS feed the title of this is http://www.unz.com/isteve/41237/blah blah blah. Feel free to delete this.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Thanks. I forgot to put a title on the post when I first posted it. Is this still a problem now that I added a title?
  2. @wah wah
    You or the software is using the RSS /link/ for the RSS title; ie in my RSS feed the title of this is www.unz.com/isteve/41237/blah blah blah. Feel free to delete this.

    Thanks. I forgot to put a title on the post when I first posted it. Is this still a problem now that I added a title?

    • Replies: @wah wah
    No it's fine now.
  3. I noticed your comment on the Times site. You mentioned that Hispanic Americans and some Asian Americans do better at mathematics than those in their home countries.

    What the Times chooses to censor is revealing. It declined to publish my comment, which made the same observation about Asians and mentioned that some other American groups were about average in mathematical ability.

    I suspect that what made my comment unpublishable was my reference to “two groups” — which I did not identify — that do poorly in mathematics and pull down the U.S. average.

    I might have been talking about hillbillies, truck drivers, or the fans of “Duck Dynasty,” but that wouldn’t have been censored. The Times’s comment moderator seems to know perfectly well what those “two groups” are, that they are officially protected wards of the state, and that they must not be criticized in any way, however gently and obliquely.

  4. Are they playing Pokemon in that picture?

  5. American schools in 2014: strong-chinned Danes patrol the streets of Miami and give stern lectures to schoolchildren about the dangers of homosexuality:

  6. In the future, America is going to stink even more at math as it’s public schools continue to take in mass numbers of Mestizos and Amerindians from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, etc.

  7. I would be interested to see the scores by such rock star math countries as Haiti, Nigeria, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Bengladesh, etc. And how about India? I keep hearing how Indians are so smart in the STEM subjects, so I would like to see their scores.

    • Replies: @dixie
    Re: @HannahKatz: "I keep hearing how Indians are so smart in the STEM subjects, so I would like to see their scores."

    Do not under-estimate the oversea Indians. Qatar has the highest jump in 2012 PISA point which might be due to the high immigrant rate. Someone had commented in earlier isteve post on the breakdown of the high performing schools in Qatar. The average sample size per school was about 70.

    The highest performing school was for the children of the Indian Hindu engineers of Qatar NGC. The sum of the math and science score was just slightly below but the sum of all three subjects was slightly higher than those for Shanghai. There were numerous other schools of Indian children listed.

    Look like India suffers massively from brain drain.
    , @Numinous
    The average Russian probably stinks at chess, but Russia as a whole produces chess geniuses, and a lot of Grandmasters. Similarly, the average Indian very likely stinks at math, but the people who are lining up for STEM jobs (the college graduates) will probably beat Shanghai-China. In both cases, what you see is the cream of the crop, a selected bunch of people from a large population who have come through a brutally competitive system.
  8. Mr. S:
    Is there any data about math performance of Ashkenazi-Americans?
    And A-A above without Hasids?
    This is not an attempt to claim that the above categories do or do not constitute a race.

  9. @Steve Sailer
    Thanks. I forgot to put a title on the post when I first posted it. Is this still a problem now that I added a title?

    No it’s fine now.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Thanks.
  10. There needs to be more memorization in contemporary math education, but the right kind of memorization. Kids should be starting with geometry and memorizing Euclid’s Elements or a close modern equivalent, rather than starting with an emphasis on algebra and memorizing algorithms.

    • Replies: @Immigrant from former USSR
    If you are so fond of Euclid, try to prove this theorem:
    *
    "Three medians in a triangle intersect in one and the same point".
    *
    without using 5-th postulate of Euclid.
    In other words, prove that this theorem is valid in spherical geometry of geodesics, and in Lobachevsky geometry of geodesics. Both of those geometries violate 5-th postulate.
    Standard high-school proof uses the notion of similarity of triangles, which requires the notion of unique parallel line, which in turn is equivalent to the 5-th.
    *
    By the way, now I understand, what IRS lady meant, when she said "I take the 5-th."
  11. Is there an easier job in education than math teacher in a NE Asian school?

    Those kids look so far from loud or rowdy I bet they could be taught is classes of 100 so long as they were properly tracked first.

    • Replies: @The Wobbly Guy
    Unfortunately, maths teachers and students in NE Asian schools are given even more difficult tasks to tackle. So the students still get frustrated and demoralised at their lack of ability, and end up not doing their work, being disruptive in class, etc. Maybe not to the extent of being rowdy, but they are regarded as ' problem students'.

    My school just had its mid year exams. 50% of the cohort failed the mathematics paper. The mathematics syllabus for pre-university students in Singapore can be found here:
    http://www.seab.gov.sg/aLevel/2014Syllabus/9740_2014.pdf

    So it depends on what is being taught. If simple stuff relative to their ability, sure, groups of 100 may be possible. If stuff that stretches their ability, then classes of 25-40. If advanced material, better have small groups still.
    , @Tom Bri
    I taught high school in Japan. Class size was always over 40 students per class. Japanese schools are segregated by test scores. The students I taught were all in the lowest-ranked schools in the area. They were a bit rowdy, but not bad. If any went over the line, the teachers beat them with textbooks! (softcover textbooks).
  12. I love how the logo of Kumon cram schools feature a cartoon of an unhappy child. I laugh every time I drive by the local one. I would have physically resisted any attempt to make me go to an after school school.

  13. from wikipedia’s list of countries by fertility rate, the final 5:

    220 Korea, South 1.25
    221 Hong Kong (PRC) 1.17
    222 Republic of China, Taiwan 1.11
    223 Macau (PRC) 0.93
    224 Singapore 0.80

    We’ll see if these geniuses can figure out how to reproduce parthenogenetically. Otherwise…

    • Replies: @Bill M
    Those are very densely populated countries. 3 out of the 5 are cities. One of them is a small, mountainous island. And one of them is a very mountainous peninsula. Why would they have high birth rates?
    , @colm
    South Korea has imported quite a few hundred thousand southeast Asian wives. And its elite girls tend to have a liking for Caucasians.
  14. Speaking of the Japanese, remember that Japanese guy back in the 80s who wrote an editorial saying America won’t be a first world country if it keeps importing brown people? (Remember when something like that could still be published?) Well, he was right.

  15. @Bill M
    There needs to be more memorization in contemporary math education, but the right kind of memorization. Kids should be starting with geometry and memorizing Euclid's Elements or a close modern equivalent, rather than starting with an emphasis on algebra and memorizing algorithms.

    If you are so fond of Euclid, try to prove this theorem:
    *
    “Three medians in a triangle intersect in one and the same point”.
    *
    without using 5-th postulate of Euclid.
    In other words, prove that this theorem is valid in spherical geometry of geodesics, and in Lobachevsky geometry of geodesics. Both of those geometries violate 5-th postulate.
    Standard high-school proof uses the notion of similarity of triangles, which requires the notion of unique parallel line, which in turn is equivalent to the 5-th.
    *
    By the way, now I understand, what IRS lady meant, when she said “I take the 5-th.”

    • Replies: @Bill M
    I did say "or modern equivalent". Being from the USSR, you should be familiar with Kiselev's Geometry, which could be used instead of Euclid. I still think Euclid is better than what most math students do these days.
  16. @Lot
    Is there an easier job in education than math teacher in a NE Asian school?

    Those kids look so far from loud or rowdy I bet they could be taught is classes of 100 so long as they were properly tracked first.

    Unfortunately, maths teachers and students in NE Asian schools are given even more difficult tasks to tackle. So the students still get frustrated and demoralised at their lack of ability, and end up not doing their work, being disruptive in class, etc. Maybe not to the extent of being rowdy, but they are regarded as ‘ problem students’.

    My school just had its mid year exams. 50% of the cohort failed the mathematics paper. The mathematics syllabus for pre-university students in Singapore can be found here:
    http://www.seab.gov.sg/aLevel/2014Syllabus/9740_2014.pdf

    So it depends on what is being taught. If simple stuff relative to their ability, sure, groups of 100 may be possible. If stuff that stretches their ability, then classes of 25-40. If advanced material, better have small groups still.

  17. @Immigrant from former USSR
    If you are so fond of Euclid, try to prove this theorem:
    *
    "Three medians in a triangle intersect in one and the same point".
    *
    without using 5-th postulate of Euclid.
    In other words, prove that this theorem is valid in spherical geometry of geodesics, and in Lobachevsky geometry of geodesics. Both of those geometries violate 5-th postulate.
    Standard high-school proof uses the notion of similarity of triangles, which requires the notion of unique parallel line, which in turn is equivalent to the 5-th.
    *
    By the way, now I understand, what IRS lady meant, when she said "I take the 5-th."

    I did say “or modern equivalent”. Being from the USSR, you should be familiar with Kiselev’s Geometry, which could be used instead of Euclid. I still think Euclid is better than what most math students do these days.

    • Replies: @Immigrant from former USSR
    Thanks. Sure, I was taught by Kiselev's textbooks, both Geometry, and Algebra. And 4-digit tables of logarithms by Bradis, including logarithms of trigonometric functions. But in my time Algebra has been switched to newer textbook (Barsukov?). To the best of my recollection, Trigonometry was never by Kiselev. Nostalgia squeezes my throat.
    "Ty vsia kak gorla perehvat,
    kogda ego volnen'e sdavit".
  18. @anony-mouse
    from wikipedia's list of countries by fertility rate, the final 5:

    220 Korea, South 1.25
    221 Hong Kong (PRC) 1.17
    222 Republic of China, Taiwan 1.11
    223 Macau (PRC) 0.93
    224 Singapore 0.80

    We'll see if these geniuses can figure out how to reproduce parthenogenetically. Otherwise...

    Those are very densely populated countries. 3 out of the 5 are cities. One of them is a small, mountainous island. And one of them is a very mountainous peninsula. Why would they have high birth rates?

  19. Interesting how Massachusetts does as well as Germany. ..

  20. Steve, you just posted a table that indicates that African-Americans score higher on standardized math tests than white Argentinians or Uruguayans. Are you smoking something today?

  21. Historically, Kumon derived from Skinner’s Programmed Learning, but I’m sure that they have long since moved on.

  22. Speaking of the Japanese, remember that Japanese guy back in the 80s who wrote an editorial saying America won’t be a first world country if it keeps importing brown people? (Remember when something like that could still be published?) Well, he was right.

    His name was Yuji Aida, and he wrote this editorial in the Chicago Tribune in 1991.

    What hasn’t been remembered as much was this hilarious reply one week later from an Hispanic activist contesting his views. It would be a fun post to reexamine both arguments, and see who was correct after twenty-three years.

  23. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Whatever is happening may be having effects at the elite level. Japanese IMO scores have gained ground considerably in 2014 from the past two years. 4 golds in 2014 compared to none in 2012 and 2013, and none from a repeat contender. Japan has only done better one time (2009) in its IMO history.

  24. I never got the “students teach themselves” thing. What’s wrong with getting explicit instruction from someone else? Whenever I read about these new teaching methods that encourage the students to come up with the answer themselves, I can’t help but feel that the teachers are being lazy, or the school trying to save money in some way.

  25. The more 3rd World the USA becomes, the mote mystified we’re supposed to be about our failure to live up to Japanese or Finnish standards.

  26. Multiracial Americans score quite high in math. The majority must be Eurasian (half Asian and half White), since most Mulatos in the U.S do not self identify themselves as Multiracial, they are like Barack Obama in that they self identify as Black only.

    That would explain the high math score for Multiracial Americans, not too many Mulatos in that category to drag down their score.

  27. One day, for example, the young students would derive the formula for finding the area of a rectangle; the next, they would use what they learned to do the same for parallelograms. Taught this new way, math itself seemed transformed. It was not dull misery but challenging, stimulating and even fun

    Geometric proofs were the only math I ever found genuinely fun to do. In an American public high school.

    Part of the problem is the limp-wristed word problems that the left seems to be writing for math textbooks. If Sarah has three apples, etc. If you want boys to pay attention, you use bullets, artillery fire, James Bond on a train defusing a bomb (how much time does he have), etc. Leftists would rather die.

  28. “Why Do Americans Stink at Math?”

    Feminism. Which is more equal: an A and an F grade, or two Cs?

    • Replies: @anon
    new math lol
    , @Anonymous
    to Wyrd, your question does not give enough information to solve the problem. In the scenario with an A and an F grade, we need to know who gets the A and who gets the F.

    If the white male gets the F and the non-white-male gets the A, then that is more equal.
  29. Was checking over the OECD average for individual nation’s math scores and checking how Japan did in comparison to Northeast Asia, Europe, etc.
    Oh, thank god, they managed to beat out Liechtenstein, WHEW! Was close though, was close. And only two points ahead of Switzerland, double double whew! Close again. It really was close.

    When Japan’s scores start falling below that of Western European nations, you know that there are some major big time problems deeply imbedded within the framework of their national educational system.

    Now if they can only figure out a way to outperform the Koreans. Come on, Japan! Don’t allow national shame to be double weighted. One thing for Hong Kong but Korea? Come on.

    But OECD scores do allow for comparison, no doubt. Falling below other Asian nations and barely squeaking ahead of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, that’s the bad news for today.

    Tomorrow? Their national average math scores might drop so low that they won’t be as good as…..Americans. Horrors. Just plain horrors.

    More Kumon, and more of it now. Desperate times mean desperate measures. Whatever it takes. If the nation’s mettle, character and people can make a dramatic comeback post WW2, as Jared Taylor can ably attest, than anything can happen.

    Hit the Kumon and hit it hard, fast, and now.

  30. SC says:

    @SFG

    Of course Massachusetts does just as well as Germany. They are both about 80% White, and Massachusetts (along with Connecticut and New Jersey) gets cream of the crop SWPLs. Germany is the cream of the crop of Europe.

    The way I see it, Massachusetts White Americans are the Germans of the United States. West Virginia White Americans are the Serbs of the United States.

  31. Note that Japan is south pole of NE Asian countries. Heh.
    Indonesia- they still have cannibals.
    Peru never recovered from Pizarro apparently.
    NE Asian birthrates prove that mathematics is a death force.
    @Svigor, where are you posting from buddy? Idaho survivalist camp? I’m gonna get you.

  32. Fields Medals may a better indicator than PISA scores

  33. Speaking of the Japanese, remember that Japanese guy back in the 80s who wrote an editorial saying America won’t be a first world country if it keeps importing brown people?

    I thought you were referring to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who felt it advisable to make a public apology in September 1986 for some excessively clear remarks he made about the American educational system:

    In a message issued in Tokyo and presented by Japanese Ambassador Nobuo Matsunaga to a closed joint session of the congressional black and Hispanic caucuses, Nakasone said: “I realize that my recent remarks have offended many Americans. I would like to express my heartfelt apology.”

    The prime minister made his apology amid growing outrage in both Japan and the United States over a speech he made Monday to junior members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, in which he suggested that blacks, Latinos and other minorities pull down the educational levels of the United States.

    In the speech, since broadcast on Japanese television, Nakasone said: “The level of Japanese society far surpasses that of the United States. There are many blacks, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans in the United States whose average level is extremely low.”

    Because of the imprecision of the Japanese language, it was unclear whether Nakasone was talking about intelligence or literacy levels.

  34. @Hannah Katz
    I would be interested to see the scores by such rock star math countries as Haiti, Nigeria, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Bengladesh, etc. And how about India? I keep hearing how Indians are so smart in the STEM subjects, so I would like to see their scores.

    Re: @HannahKatz: “I keep hearing how Indians are so smart in the STEM subjects, so I would like to see their scores.”

    Do not under-estimate the oversea Indians. Qatar has the highest jump in 2012 PISA point which might be due to the high immigrant rate. Someone had commented in earlier isteve post on the breakdown of the high performing schools in Qatar. The average sample size per school was about 70.

    The highest performing school was for the children of the Indian Hindu engineers of Qatar NGC. The sum of the math and science score was just slightly below but the sum of all three subjects was slightly higher than those for Shanghai. There were numerous other schools of Indian children listed.

    Look like India suffers massively from brain drain.

  35. @Wyrd
    "Why Do Americans Stink at Math?"

    Feminism. Which is more equal: an A and an F grade, or two Cs?

    new math lol

  36. is there a white american in that class? well that explains it…

  37. @Bill M
    I did say "or modern equivalent". Being from the USSR, you should be familiar with Kiselev's Geometry, which could be used instead of Euclid. I still think Euclid is better than what most math students do these days.

    Thanks. Sure, I was taught by Kiselev’s textbooks, both Geometry, and Algebra. And 4-digit tables of logarithms by Bradis, including logarithms of trigonometric functions. But in my time Algebra has been switched to newer textbook (Barsukov?). To the best of my recollection, Trigonometry was never by Kiselev. Nostalgia squeezes my throat.
    “Ty vsia kak gorla perehvat,
    kogda ego volnen’e sdavit”.

  38. […] not just Americans who are said to stink at […]

  39. Poland scores very high in math, so much for the dumb Polack stereotype.

  40. Akio Morita co-founder of Sony wrote Made in Japan where he stated that the US was becoming a third world country because it had too much diversity and things like Just in Time manufacturing process was invented in the US then ignored and perfected in Japan.

  41. Poor old UK, the GINI index is the only thing we are going up in.

  42. “In the future, America is going to stink even more at math as it’s public schools continue to take in mass numbers of Mestizos and Amerindians from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, etc.”

    Thing is even if population IQ was all the same the US/West would still have the same problem through taking a majority of immigrants from the bottom half of the distribution.

  43. @Hannah Katz
    I would be interested to see the scores by such rock star math countries as Haiti, Nigeria, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Bengladesh, etc. And how about India? I keep hearing how Indians are so smart in the STEM subjects, so I would like to see their scores.

    The average Russian probably stinks at chess, but Russia as a whole produces chess geniuses, and a lot of Grandmasters. Similarly, the average Indian very likely stinks at math, but the people who are lining up for STEM jobs (the college graduates) will probably beat Shanghai-China. In both cases, what you see is the cream of the crop, a selected bunch of people from a large population who have come through a brutally competitive system.

    • Replies: @colm
    Virtually all of "Russian" chess grandmasters were Jewish, except Alekhine (who was a borderline Nazi and conveniently died on 1946 just before a bout with the Zionist-Marxist Botvonik) who was a French citizen when he died.
  44. THE GAME IS A METAPHOR FOR THE LONG AND STEADY EVOLUTION OF COMPUTER PROGRAMMING FROM THE MOST COMPLEX AND SPECIALIZED OF ENDEAVORS TO SOMETHING THAT ANYONE CAN GRASP.

    Lake Woebegon:

    http://www.wired.com/2014/07/the-75-year-saga-behind-a-game-that-teachers-preschoolers-to-code/

  45. @anony-mouse
    from wikipedia's list of countries by fertility rate, the final 5:

    220 Korea, South 1.25
    221 Hong Kong (PRC) 1.17
    222 Republic of China, Taiwan 1.11
    223 Macau (PRC) 0.93
    224 Singapore 0.80

    We'll see if these geniuses can figure out how to reproduce parthenogenetically. Otherwise...

    South Korea has imported quite a few hundred thousand southeast Asian wives. And its elite girls tend to have a liking for Caucasians.

  46. @Numinous
    The average Russian probably stinks at chess, but Russia as a whole produces chess geniuses, and a lot of Grandmasters. Similarly, the average Indian very likely stinks at math, but the people who are lining up for STEM jobs (the college graduates) will probably beat Shanghai-China. In both cases, what you see is the cream of the crop, a selected bunch of people from a large population who have come through a brutally competitive system.

    Virtually all of “Russian” chess grandmasters were Jewish, except Alekhine (who was a borderline Nazi and conveniently died on 1946 just before a bout with the Zionist-Marxist Botvonik) who was a French citizen when he died.

    • Replies: @Chess Fan
    I believe you are confusing grandmasters with world champions. Even so far as world champions go I believe you are wrong: Boris Spassky, Anatoly Kaporv, and Vladimir Kramnik are non-Jewish Russians and were world champions. If we look at all Russian grandmasters there are undoubtedly many non-Jews.
  47. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Wyrd
    "Why Do Americans Stink at Math?"

    Feminism. Which is more equal: an A and an F grade, or two Cs?

    to Wyrd, your question does not give enough information to solve the problem. In the scenario with an A and an F grade, we need to know who gets the A and who gets the F.

    If the white male gets the F and the non-white-male gets the A, then that is more equal.

  48. @Lot
    Is there an easier job in education than math teacher in a NE Asian school?

    Those kids look so far from loud or rowdy I bet they could be taught is classes of 100 so long as they were properly tracked first.

    I taught high school in Japan. Class size was always over 40 students per class. Japanese schools are segregated by test scores. The students I taught were all in the lowest-ranked schools in the area. They were a bit rowdy, but not bad. If any went over the line, the teachers beat them with textbooks! (softcover textbooks).

  49. “Steve, you just posted a table that indicates that African-Americans score higher on standardized math tests than white Argentinians or Uruguayans. Are you smoking something today?”

    A high percentage of the so-called “White people” in Argentina are actually light skin Mestizos, you know the type that if they look a DNA test it would reveal they are 85 percent European and 15 percent Amerindian for example.

    Argentinians on average have less Caucasian ancestry than Non Hispanic White North Americans, but still significantly more Caucasian ancestry than say Mexicans and Central Americans.

  50. Since multicultural math is a thing now, why not take inspiration from Gen. D H Hill’s algebra textbook that he wrote before the Civil War? It even has a review by his brother in law, fellow math prof, Stonewall Jackson. Filled with digs at Yankees, it’s a hoot:

    The field of battle at Buena Vista is 6½ miles from Saltillo. Two Indiana volunteers ran away from the field of battle at the same time; one ran half a mile per hour faster than the other, and reached Saltillo 5 minutes and 54 6/11 seconds sooner than the other. Required their respective rates of travel.

    A man in Cincinnati purchased 10,000 pounds of bad pork, at 1 cent per pound, and paid so much per pound to put it through a chemical process, by which it would appear sound, and then sold it at an advanced price, clearing $450 by the fraud. The price at which he sold the pork per pound, multiplied by the cost per pound of the chemical process, was 3 cents. Required the price at which he sold it, and the cost of the chemical process.

    In the year 1692, the people of Massachusetts executed, imprisoned, or privately persecuted 469 persons, of both sexes, and all ages, for alleged crime of witchcraft. Of these, twice as many were privately persecuted as were imprisoned, and 7 17/19 times as many more were imprisoned than were executed. Required the number of sufferers of each kind? Answer. 19 executed, 150 imprisoned, and 300 privately persecuted.

  51. @colm
    Virtually all of "Russian" chess grandmasters were Jewish, except Alekhine (who was a borderline Nazi and conveniently died on 1946 just before a bout with the Zionist-Marxist Botvonik) who was a French citizen when he died.

    I believe you are confusing grandmasters with world champions. Even so far as world champions go I believe you are wrong: Boris Spassky, Anatoly Kaporv, and Vladimir Kramnik are non-Jewish Russians and were world champions. If we look at all Russian grandmasters there are undoubtedly many non-Jews.

  52. Sorry, that’s Anatoly Karpov, not Kaporv, of course.

  53. > > Speaking of the Japanese, remember that Japanese guy back in the 80s
    > > who wrote an editorial saying America won’t be a first world country
    > > if it keeps importing brown people?

    > His name was Yuji Aida, and he wrote this editorial in the Chicago Tribune in 1991.

    More on Yuji Aida from Wikipedia:

    Aida Yūji (会田 雄次, 5 March 1916 – 17 September 1997) was a leading Japanese historian specialising in the Renaissance. He was active as a conservative thinker, commentator and major exponent of the Nihonjinron. He was born in Kyōto on 5 March 1916. He graduated from Kyoto University in 1940 and had his Master’s degree in history interrupted in 1943, when he was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army. He fought on the Burmese front against the British as an infantryman. He surrendered to the British Army at the war’s end and was detained at Ahlone Camp in the British-controlled Burma. His experiences, especially mental torture in the hands of his captors through their cruel nonchalance towards the Japanese POWs, are vividly described in his best-selling memoir, “Prisoner of the British. A Japanese Soldier’s Experience in Burma” (Aaron Shūyōjo, 1962). On his repatriation in 1947, he began to teach at Kobe University. He was appointed full professor at Kyoto University’s Humanities Department in 1952. He retired from the University in 1979, when he became an emeritus professor. He died of pneumonia on 17 September 1997.

    Theory of European Rationalism

    Aida is best remembered for the theory that the ‘rationality’ of Western civilization was consequential upon the practice of raising and killing livestock. This hypothesis, called the “livestock rearing theory” (家畜飼育説 kachiku shiikusetsu), was set forth in his 1966 book Rationalism (Gōrishugi). He associated the slaughter of domestic animals, which had been hitherto reared with great care, with the nonchalant belligerence of Western soldiers. In his view, Westerners are free from the kind of hysteria Japanese soldiers would often show at the sight of bloodshed. Aida blamed this very hysteria for the excessive acts of cruelty that the Japanese were accused of during the Second World War. Westerners, on the other hand, have so long been accustomed to calmly butchering animals that they developed a rational approach to slaughter, which they extended to human conflict. The Japanese hardly had any contact with livestock owing to the Buddhist taboo of eating meat and were too emotive to master the Western sort of nonchalance.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aida_Yūji

  54. M says:

    http://phys.org/news/2014-07-gender-quotas-tight-cultures-paper.html

    “Quotas probably won’t get more women into the boardroom in places like the U.S. and Canada.

    They have a better chance however in countries such as China or Germany where people place a higher value on obeying authority and conforming to cultural norms

    It all comes down to a culture’s “tightness” or “looseness”—the degree to which a culture maintains social norms, adheres to authority structures and tolerates deviations from them.

    Loose cultures, such as in the U.S., New Zealand and Hungary, tend to be more open to change, and experience higher rates of change than tight cultures.

    “It’s easier for tight cultures to implement (quota policies) like that because of the top-down approach to policy-making,” says Prof. Toh. “In a loose culture however, it’s very hard to say, ‘This is how we’re going to do it, so there.’”

    Same way with mathematics.

    Asian Americans are such a potpourri of different and selected origins its hard to use them as a benchmark.

    The success of Black and Latino Americans is a much better story for the success of US math teaching. These are people who achieve quite well despite Africa and Mexico being very poor.
    —-

    Jefferson : A high percentage of the so-called “White people” in Argentina are actually light skin Mestizos, you know the type that if they look a DNA test it would reveal they are 85 percent European and 15 percent Amerindian for example.

    15% Amerindian should lower a group’s average IQ about 2 points, at most.

  55. Hi! You will find these interesting.

    Misunderstanding Asian education http://goo.gl/AA0gFj

    Online learning – the evolving Japanese “cram schools” http://goo.gl/1cSsqw

    Blended learning and Japanese shadow education (cram school) http://goo.gl/nXD4zo

  56. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The latest Japanese material/teaching method which is getting very popular among American teachers is a math puzzle called KenKen – http://www.kenken.com. It is completely opposite of memorization method.

    It was invented by Japanese famous educator Tetsuya Miyamoto in 2004 under his very unique educational philosophy called “The Art of Teaching Without Teaching”. (Basically, the philosophy is saying that in stead of “teaching” children, let children think by themselves with using their own brain. The process while thinking to reach to the solution makes kids smarter, not teaching, giving hints or giving solution.)

    It is really making math fun for students of all ages, and improves so many great skills – perseverance, problem solving, critical thinking, cognitive skills, number sense etc etc which is very hard to “learn”. The best thing is, this puzzle is so addicting and kids doesn’t feel they are doing math. Very clever.

    It is in NYTimes every day and it gives a great challenge and fun to adult’s brain too. Great brain exercise for math-stinkers.

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