Bad at Math? Blame your Parents!

If you’ve seen America’s got Talent, or American Idol, you’ll agree that Americans have inflated egos when it comes to how we feel about ourselves.  But, is this why our students rank low in math internationally?   Raytheon and Eduventures think so.  A recent study found that American parents feel confident enough in their math skills to help their 10-14 year-old children at home with math, but parents in Singapore do not.  Because of this, Singaporean parents are four times more likely to hire an expert tutor for their chidren.  Is this a contributing factor to our failure and Singapore’s success at churning out skilled mathematicians?  Are we giving our kids the wrong answers?  Likely, but we graduated from the same system.  The evidence may lay blame on the parents, but correlation is not causation.  The study goes on to point out that Singaporean students are more active learners in math than U.S. students; this means the education is student-centered, engaging, collaborative, meaningful, and …..even FUN! A Teacher's Load While U.S. teachers scramble to fill students’ heads with facts for the standardized tests, students are filling their short-term memories with information to regurgetate onto an exam.  Doing well on the exam is an external motivation, and teachers’ salaries are dependent on how well their kids do on these tests. In the short term, it works; yeay for classroom pizza parties! But, can these kids remember these facts and apply them later to real-life situations?  Not usually, because they weren’t learned in a meaningful way.  Did these American kids follow stock-market trends, or sell items to raise money for charity?  Did they look at spreads of their favorite sports teams, or design birdhouses?  Some of the lucky ones did, kudos to those teachers.   All of these activities can and do incorporate math skills that will be meaningful to a student, math skills that will stay, because the students themselves push to find the answers.  We could blame the
teachers, but, I blame the system; it’s a system that encourages the quick fix, quantity over quality, shallow knowledge over deep understanding, too many pontificating experts and too little support.  Raytheon has voiced concern that there are not enough problem-solvers graduating from Universities, and have donated profusely to STEM programs in MA.  This is wonderful.  But, if anyone wants to blame the parents, blame them for not attempting to change the system; don’t blame them for helping their kids with homework.Reading this Blog in Second Life

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2 thoughts on “Bad at Math? Blame your Parents!

  1. Stock-market trends and nonprofits sound like they would be fun for kids, I like it.
    By the way, I have the same blog theme with a bright green, but I am loving your shade of blue…cheerful, yet soothing. =)

  2. FYI, Raytheon specializes in defense and homeland security technology for the U.S., and are concerned that they have to go outside of the U.S. to hire the best and brightest. Interestingly, they have games like Code Breaker on the same page as their job listings.

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