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Monday, February 4, 2013

The American School System

Art By David Dees,
Why American Children fail at Math?
The gradual disconnect. In his documentary, Laidlaw found that most American children are performing at or above proficiency in math around fourth grade. Unfortunately, that confidence begins to taper off over time, so that by eighth grade, fewer students are understanding math. By the tenth grade, most students are in bottom tier worldwide, with only one-fourth of students graduating with a full understanding of math. While that may speak to the education system as a whole, it’s up to educators, legislators and parents to enforce an understanding of math and pacing the learning system so that students don’t start strong and end up in the bottom three-fourths of kids by high school grad.
The failing mentality. Let’s face it: As a country, we don’t always take math very seriously. Since it’s known as a “hard subject,” it’s probably more common and more acceptable to receive a near-failing grade in math that it would be say, history or English. This acceptable failing mentality means that the effort isn’t always behind the grade, nor are the parents. When a parent hates math herself, that mentality can be passed down to children, creating a cycle of math hatred and disconnect that results in failing grades an graduating with only a base knowledge in the subject.
The value of math. You might be used to finding the value of ‘x,’ but you might struggle in finding the value behind the activity. After all, when will you solve for ‘x’ or create a unit circle in “real life?” The idea that math is useless after school permeates classrooms across the country, which results in a lack of effort and a complacency with poor grades.
Competitive complacency. As citizens of an industrialized, first-world country, the American population doesn’t often have to worry about global educational competition. Being American is good enough, right? Wrong. While Americans are skipping math class, European and Asian nations are pushing harder than ever to train their students in math and science programs, the same programs that will one day put them ahead in scientific revolution. The complacency based upon being American could be part of what has held the population back: Out of 65 industrialized nations, the United States ranks only 23rd for math scores.

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