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Why America's School "Lag" Has Never Mattered

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the simple-but-effective dept.

Education 361

The Organization for Economic and Cooperation and Development (OECD), a forum of the top 34 developed economies, has released an annual education report, and guess what? The U.S. has once again ranked poorly in relation to many other developed countries. An article at TechCrunch argues that we needn't worry because it doesn't matter: "However, the report implies that education translates into gainful market skills, an assumption not found in the research. For instance, while Chinese students, on average, have twice the number of instructional hours as Americans, both countries have identical scores on tests of scientific reasoning. 'The results suggest that years of rigorous training of physics knowledge in middle and high schools have made significant impact on Chinese students’ ability in solving physics problems, while such training doesn’t seem to have direct effects on their general ability in scientific reasoning, which was measured to be at the same level as that of the students in USA,' wrote a team of researchers studying whether Chinese superiority in rote scientific knowledge translated into the kinds of creative thinking necessary for innovation."

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Because (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355301)

AMERICA IS AWESOME!!!!!! We're #1! We're #1!!!! WHOOOOO!

Re:Because (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355495)

Yes keep saying that to yourselves. Comparing Chinese students to current American standards is like comparing America 50 years ago to now. Wait until China gets up to speed in a decade or so. Then lets do this test again.

Re:Because (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355679)

As a college professor, I have developed my own phrase for Chinese Students:

Cheatin' Chinks.

Yes, that's right - those diminutive, hideous Gollumesques don't know the meaning of hard work. They're mindless regurgitators and baby-girl murderers. They're being forced to marry their cousins because there are so few available women. Your conjecture doesn't scare me, for in 50 years they will be too inbred to do even simple algebra.

America, FUCK YEAH. we rule the roost, and anybody who insults us will be blown the fuck up. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some football to watch, the real kind, not the fake kind with men wearing daisy dukes and girl shirts. Go Chargers!

Hey, hey Retarded USA (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356197)

They removed that Mr Nixon because he had similar thoughts like you. There are countries who have the ability to wipe American civilization off the face of this earth. Look up "Topol M".

And, yes, it is good to have a bear who keeps you trigger-happies in check somehow.

Soon, AI Will Make Your Education Obsolete (1)

qbitslayer (2567421) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355735)

You will be no more valuable, economically, than a dishwasher, a fry cook or a gardener. What will you do then? Sorry, I had to ask.

Re:Soon, AI Will Make Your Education Obsolete (0)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355797)

It's a fair question, and one which will eventually have to be answered.

Fortunately, I have never worried much about my economic value.

Instead I strive to make economic value as irrelevant as possible to a person's comfort.

Re:Soon, AI Will Make Your Education Obsolete (1)

m00sh (2538182) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356111)

You will be no more valuable, economically, than a dishwasher, a fry cook or a gardener. What will you do then? Sorry, I had to ask.

You also say that breakthroughs in computer visions combined with robotics will make the job of a dishwasher, fry cook and gardener obsolete.

The key point is that those breakthroughs that would make that happen hasn't occurred yet. Breakthroughs don't happen on a time table so soon might turn to be a long long time.

Virgil Rellidee in the Year 2000. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356189)

Back in the late 1980s, there was an Australian popular science show called 'Beyond 2000'.

Every episode was chock full of stories about Virgil Rellidee, and how he would one day soon rule our lives.

Every episode featured some bald guy wearing ridiculous goggles pretending to be playing a game in one of Virgil Rellidee's Holodeck-like rooms.

Even back then it was cringe-worthy -- nobody who knew anything about the state of computer science and technology believed we'd be sipping tea with Commander Data by 2002 -- but I can't even begin to imagine how laughable it would seem now.

AI replacing workers within 50 years?

I'll believe it only when Virgil Rellidee says it's so.

Re:Because (0, Flamebait)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355987)

Given that innovation seems to consist of "inventing" rounded corners and the like these days, I am quite certain that scientific knowledge, or lack thereof, will not have any impact.

We don't need a bunch of innovators! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355311)

We need a few innovators and a whole load of minimum wage drones.

Re:We don't need a bunch of innovators! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355403)

We need a few innovators and a whole load of minimum wage drones.

Then China has the US beat.

AI Will Make Both Innovators and Workers Obsolete (1)

qbitslayer (2567421) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355785)

As I said above, in spite of all your high education and expertise, you will be no more valuable, economically, than a dishwasher, a fry cook or a gardener. What will you do then?

Re:We don't need a bunch of innovators! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355407)

Somewhat true. We also don't need a bunch of engineers. It' seems most of my EE colleagues are doing mindless paperwork.

Re:We don't need a bunch of innovators! (4, Interesting)

GPierce (123599) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355729)

In many ways, it hasn't changed tin the last fifty or so years. In the 1960's, about 5% of engineering graduates actually got to do any engineering. The other 95% were engaged in 'highly skilled" activities such as finding the cheapest resistor/capacitor combination to build the gizmo that one of the 5% got to design. And because the defense industries were operating in a system where their bids got extra brownie points for the number of BAs MAs and Phds in the company, the companies were willing to hire a graduate engineer to push a broom. It improved their chances of getting the next contract.

It was similar in programming. About 5% got to work on the unique innovative stuff. The rest were assigned to program maintenance. At one point, Johns Mannville corporation almost self destructed because they hired an entire IT department of brilliant talented software engineers. Corporate politics takes on a whole new dimension when 95 really smart guys are all fighting to position themselves to be in charge of one of the two or three really interesting new projects schedules for the following year. And no, doing a really good job on your current project didn't count - (see Dilbert for guidance.)

Re:We don't need a bunch of innovators! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356309)

At one point, Johns Mannville corporation almost self destructed because they hired an entire IT department of brilliant talented software engineers.

[citation needed]

Johns Manville manufactures insulation, roofing materials, and engineered products. They were a leader in asbestos, and filed for bankruptcy in '82 because of asbestos-related lawsuits.

So WTF are you talking about?

Re:We don't need a bunch of innovators! (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355471)

If a job's worth doing at minimum wage, it's worth doing badly.

All those Foxconn factory workers are earning a hell of a lot more than the Chinese minimum wage+benefits, you know.

Re:We don't need a bunch of innovators! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355831)

That's what we've had for generations, and continue to have today. We maintain a few innovators in the US and a whole load of (less than) minimum wage drones in China, Indonesia, India, Mexico, the Philippines ... The benefits of carefully managed global economic hegemony.

Demographic disconnect (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355317)

If you take away the minorities, the US would probably score like Japan. It's not popular to say that; but it's true.

Re:Demographic disconnect (3, Interesting)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355413)

I blame those Japanese minorities, always bringing down our math scores.

Anyway, a rat race of artificial scarcity is a stupid way to run the world. What matters is not that we're the best, but that we're good enough - to maintain nutrition, health and shelter. Everything else can be done at leisure.

School is NOT to train workers!!!!! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355595)

What matters is not that we're the best, but that we're good enough - to maintain nutrition, health and shelter. Everything else can be done at leisure.

Was it Finland or some other Scandinavian country where the goal of their education system was sorta like that? Just teach the kids, let the kids be the kids and the learning will come.

As a result, not only do the kids actually learn but the kids are happier and more creative because they are allowed to let their minds roam and just be kids and NOT BE FUTURE WORKERS IN TRAINING.

School is to have an educated electorate: not for free training for business.

If businesses can't find people who are trained well enough for them, then they need to go all old school: train them. D'uh!

Again, socializing the costs (in this case job training) and privatizing the profits.

"I don't want America to be like Europe!"

Famous Presidential candidate.

Indeed.

Re:School is NOT to train workers!!!!! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356159)

What matters is not that we're the best, but that we're good enough - to maintain nutrition, health and shelter. Everything else can be done at leisure.

Was it Finland or some other Scandinavian country where the goal of their education system was sorta like that?

Ironically, these Scandinavian countries were inspired by the great American John Dewey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dewey

Re:Demographic disconnect (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355535)

If you take away the minorities, the US would probably score like Japan. It's not popular to say that; but it's true.

If you take away the MAJORITY OF SOME minorities, the US would probably score like Japan. It's not popular to say that; but it's true.

Re:Demographic disconnect (3, Insightful)

fiziko (97143) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355741)

If you take away the ones with the least financial backing, making it less likely their offspring will attend post-secondary and more likely that they have to get jobs as students and have less time to compete with others, you'll see a huge difference in any country. Sadly, removing the minorities will remove most people with poor socioeconomic status, but they are not equivalent actions. There are brilliant and productive members of every minority I can think of, as well as members of the majority who detract from their country's performance as a whole. One of the reasons your statement is unpopular is because it is focused on skin colour, and not the actual root cause: racist members of society or racist past policies that denied millions of capable individuals the opportunity to capitalize on those capabilities.

Even so, doing this will still not produce a "fair" comparison unless this is done with every country in the study. If those of us in North America want to make our part of the world better, we need to find a way to make sure each school age student has no undue concerns. Once every student has caring and supporting home environments, no apparent risk of starvation or lack of other needs, no abuse from any source, no problems with racism, etc. then the country's performance (assuming the school curriculum is properly designed) will improve dramatically. If those conditions are met world wide, I would expect to see little or no variation in studies like this one.

Respected International Agency says: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355347)

USA also sucks in schools.

Film at 11.

so what we're saying is... (2)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355383)

...China is shit in one way, but America is shit in another.

Combine the best of both worlds and you have something good.

But combine the worst and you have something awful.

Polyculture, like many human endeavours, tends to increase both risk and reward.

Expect this to be misinterpreted as "We're #1!"

I'm not sure if the US version is shit.. (3, Insightful)

mozumder (178398) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355913)

The Chinese education system is great for rote memorization at the high-school level. If businesses could be developed from the fact that you can pass high-school algebra or geography, then China would have us beat. But unfortunately for them, businesses happens through people that push the state-of-the-art, instead of just getting by with a passing grade. And the state-of-the-art is still at a very high level only achievable by few. Maybe post-grad linear algebra or combinatorics would be useful, but at this point China competes against the US university system, of which there is no peer.

And it's not necessarily through engineering that pushes the state-of-the-art, but through the other fields as well.

For example, can anyone name a single high-end chinese fashion designer, or a movie director? LOL.

Re:I'm not sure if the US version is shit.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356135)

can anyone name a single high-end chinese fashion designer, or a movie director? LOL.

Ang Lee

ah but that's today's results (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355387)

that is today's results. the results in 10 years might be the same percentage but China has 4 times our population that means they have 4 times as many "innovators" to come up with new ideas.

Meanwhile the US is failing behind In 20-30 years when the actual results will matter America is going to get left behind.

of course American politicians are short sighted enough not to see results 4-10 years later. the longer term view in china is going to bite us in the ass.

Re:ah but that's today's results (3, Insightful)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355553)

There's this common perception that throwing money at education will solve the problem. History has shown that this isnt true. Why is it that charter schools get better results with fewer resources? It's simple: they don't have teachers unions. Teachers unions allow them to get high pay for doing a shit job.

I know this is anecdotal, but in the movie Waiting for Superman, they covered a teacher who was filmed by a student reading a magazine while his students were playing craps. The principal fired him. Because of his union, a year later he got his job back and received back pay for all of the time that he was off. They also showed a room that they would have all of the teachers who broke the rules just sit in and do nothing all day while getting paid a full salary, just because the unions prevented them from getting fired.

There was also that story on slashdot a while back about how teachers unions were trying to block online education in the name of their job security; education be damned. And of course, that famous video of a speech of a union bigwig saying that the union isn't about the students or about education, but about power, and he was cheered on by the audience.

Re:ah but that's today's results (0)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355615)

To be fair, the nature of a union is to gain power. The same as a corporations nature is to gain money. The outcome may not be better for you and me, but it is what they are built to do

Re:ah but that's today's results (2)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355749)

To be fair, the nature of a union is to gain power. The same as a corporations nature is to gain money.

A union IS a corporation.

Re:ah but that's today's results (4, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355617)

Isn't it odd how the most socially and economically advanced production powerhouses like Germany tend to have strong unions?

Isn't it interesting how desperate, fallen empires like the UK and the US are to demonstrate that unions don't work?

Also a union is not "about the students or about education", in the same way that you don't take your paycheque home at the end of the day "for your company". The purpose of a union is to address the interests of the workforce, not the customer / service user. It can do that well, by resolving differences between labour and management, or it can do that badly, running the organisation into the ground. IOW "power" is exactly what a union is about - strength in numbers.

Re:ah but that's today's results (3, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355813)

Probably because unions in Germany are altruistic, whereas American unions are greedy self interested asshats. Don't take my word for it:

http://math-www.uni-paderborn.de/~axel/us-d.html#unions [uni-paderborn.de]

Re:ah but that's today's results (4, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355937)

They are more well-functioning than American unions, but it's nothing to do with their being altruistic - on the contrary, they give power to their members. Indeed, German unions are far more powerful than American ones. But German unions tend to handle themselves better, partly thanks to a government which understands the need for (i.e. provides law for) management and labour to cooperate for the good of both sides of industry.

Neither the UK nor the US get this - even though unions create a low-turnover workforce interested in productivity and self-improvement because workers know that, in return, they're going to enjoy better treatment and security of employment.

Re:ah but that's today's results (3, Interesting)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356053)

What makes you think Germany is doing better than the USA?

Per capita GDP? USA: $48K, Germany: $37K

Human Development Index? USA: ranked 4th. Germany ranked 9th

Quality of the education system (since that's what we are talking about): USA 60+ universities in the top 100. Germany: 5 in the Times Higher Education Rankings

Where is German innovation? Compare the number of US high tech companies with German. Compare the ease of obtaining capital for entrepreneurs in USA v. Germany. For that matter compare the popular culture where Germany almost completely copies the USA.

Even with big geographic and demographic advantages, Germany is still lagging behind the USA and the reason is that the burden of the heavy regulation, taxes, welfare state and the unions is too much even for the German worker to carry on his back.

Re:ah but that's today's results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356149)

For that matter compare the popular culture where Germany almost completely copies the USA.

They did not copy a fanatical devotion for David Hasselhoff from us.

Re:ah but that's today's results (3)

bmimatt (1021295) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356209)

I'll bite.  In simplest of terms to increase the chance of you being able to digest it.

<quote><p>What makes you think Germany is doing better than the USA?</p></quote>

Quality of life.

<quote><p>Per capita GDP? USA: $48K, Germany: $37K</p></quote>

Buying power.

<quote><p>Quality of the education system (since that's what we are talking about): USA 60+ universities in the top 100. Germany: 5  in the Times Higher Education Rankings</p></quote>

Divide by number of people in the country.

<quote><p>Where is German innovation? Compare the number of US high tech companies with German. Compare the ease of obtaining capital for entrepreneurs in USA v. Germany. For that matter compare the popular culture where Germany almost completely copies the USA.</p></quote>

See the automobile industry, clean energy industry and national debt share per capita.

You are a blind moron and people like you are exactly what keeps the US from becoming a leader again.

Re:ah but that's today's results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356283)

It is very funny to see you comparing the number of universities of two countries with very different amount of population. And, regarding to that HDI info... Please. Take a look to the list of homicides per country (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate). I'd rather be "underdeveloped" than dead.

By any standard, any european country is a better place to live than the US (except, perhaps, Greece, which is as a crazy hell as the US, but they are in crisis).

Also, it is funny to see how do you solve that stats problem, by removing the minorities. You see, killing black people is never a solution. You should learn that once and for all.

Re:ah but that's today's results (2)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356317)

Isn't it odd that in some places, to be considered for a job, you have to join a club that supports political causes you might not support? And everyone just thinks that's ok?

The problem with teachers unions is that they can wrap their labor concerns (fair enough) in a think-of-the-children argument (dirty).

The problem with public sector unions is that the tax payers are continuously extorted for more money, as if the public was simply there as a method to fund however many government payrolls the government employees feel like having.

Charter gets better results? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355681)

How about we roll back that premise first, because they don't.

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/studies/charter/2005456.asp [ed.gov]

Re:Charter gets better results? (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355895)

How about we roll back that premise first, because they don't.

Yes they do. And they don't. It all depends on how you interpret the statistics. Charter schools tend to be located in poor and minority areas (because there is more demand for them there), which lowers their average results. On the other hand, more motivated parents are likely to choose charter schools over public schools, which raises their results. By correcting for one of these factors, but not the other, it is easy to skew the results either way.

From what I can see, charter schools don't make much difference in student performance, but they do tend to give comparable results at significantly lower cost. So they still offer some advantages over traditional public schools.

Charter school are not better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355691)

If you remove the "new school effect" from the data, youn find out that charter school are not better.

Re:ah but that's today's results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355789)

Why is it that charter schools get better results with fewer resources? It's simple: they don't have teachers unions.

It's simple, they have entrance exams so filter out the hard to educate special ed students, and any discipline problems they discover after the fact get pushed back on the public school system. In any school, special ed and disruptive students are the most expensive to educate, so it's very easy to do more with less when you cut out that kind of overhead. If the charters had to accept every student who asked to come on a first-come first-serve basis, competing on a level playing field with the public schools, their results would be very different.

Re:ah but that's today's results (4, Insightful)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355877)

So kick the asshole students out of public schools. They were the reason I hated school. Not only do they cost more to educate, but they drag down the other students. If they want to be janitors when they grow up, so be it, we could use more janitors, garbage men, and cotton pickers. Reform is always possible later in life, they can change later if they want to, but don't allow them to fuck everybody else early on.

Re:ah but that's today's results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356005)

So kick the asshole students out of public schools.

That's illegal.

Re:ah but that's today's results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356327)

So kick the asshole students out of public schools

Then do what? Where do they go? Let's assume they never spend more than three years in school: what do they do when they become adults? You don't have many options here.

Re:ah but that's today's results (2)

xs650 (741277) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355867)

Why is it that charter schools get better results with fewer resources?

On average charter schools don't do better than regular public schools when the data considers similar groups of students ion both schools.

Data is not the plural of anecdote.

Re:ah but that's today's results (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355979)

The same union that prevents those teachers from being fired protects the teacher that dares to mention evolution in a biology class.

Re:ah but that's today's results (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356047)

they don't have teachers unions

I never get this. Why must there be only 1 union for a profession? Where I live, I can go to several different unions, regardless of my profession.
They then can do deals depending on the industry or even with separate parts of an industry or even individual companies.
When I change jobs, I do not need to change unions.

Also I can be in a union, but I do not have to be. From a employers point of view, there is absolutely no difference. No one will ever ask.

Sure, there are things that you could do wrongly and abusing power is one of them. The basic reason for a union is indeed about power. It is about having the same power as the company. It is about the leveling the playing field. A company and an individual are not equal partners. Unions has the ability to make them just that.

Re:ah but that's today's results (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356173)

Actually, as much as I believe public sector unions are a logical absurdity as well as harmful parasites on the society, I don't think they are the number 1 problem with the education system.

The problem with the public schools is caused by the lack of competition between schools for students, which is exactly what makes American universities the best in the world. The lack of competition is caused by the system where the school districts get money directly from the government rather then from parents and where they are guaranteed students who do not have a choice of school. Instead of paying money directly to the school district, pay it to the parents who can then make a choice where to spend it which will force schools to improve. Competition works.

Re:ah but that's today's results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356255)

Public school teachers, unionized or no, do no get high pay. Charter schools do better because they have better learning conditions, such as small class sizes, work areas, and work hours, conditions that are available because they can limit how many students they take in while public schools cannot. Whenever teachers strike to demand smaller class sizes, better work areas, and better work hours, the news reports that they want more money and the public outcry is heard. Then, the teachers at public schools once more get refused their constant requests for those things that charter schools have, and then people like you point out how charter schools are doing better.

Congratulations on taking a few mangled anecdotes to lie about the world, but you do not know what is going on with public education and if your 'solution' is put into effect the system will continue to fail in the ways that it always has.

American Advantage (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355401)

American advantage boils down to 4 things

1) American't honestly think they are special. True competition would kill this. If you are the 10th smartest person in a class and you don't have head to head competition that tells you differently you can think you are the smartest. In asian you know you are number 10. This allows Americans to believe they are capable of great things. That means we try far more often and THAT is why we succeed more often in innovation.

2) Americans have more wealth. If you want to program buying a computer is not a big deal, or a milling machine for $10,000. In many countries the milling machine is impossible. Business takes money and living in a country with money and free time really really helps.

3) This is an advantage against Europe etc. America values success. Its a virtue. If you hate the 1% then doing something that causes you to be part of that 1% can actually be discouraged. Australia is a good example, there the most successful are mocked while in the USA the most successful are giving special privilege.

4) Americans can always go back to school. Many countries set in stone if you are smart or dumb with test scores and you have a much harder time going back to school for a premium education if you screw up your youth. This lack of class structure both in terms of education and in terms of inherited wealth makes for a more competition based economy.

And thats why I think we are not totally outclassed by the better education systems around the world.

Re:American Advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355543)

Gag gag gag...

1) Really American's don't think they are special? How about whenever people get into chants like USA USA USA. Naaa nothing special at all.

2) Really have more wealth? Some do yes, but it is nothing like 30 years ago. These days the problem is that you have a set of folks that have money and others that do not.

3) Oh give me an effen break. European's hate success. Yes that's right because nobody drives any European cars, or buys any European products. No Europeans don't hate success. What Europeans hate is the difference in wealth between the poorest and the richest. If you think giving rich people privileges is right, then let me introduce you to King Louie XVI.

4) People can go back to schools in other countries as well.

Personally I am not here to mock the US, for the US is a country of opportunity. However, there are too many with their heads up their arses (eg yourself) to show the potential.

Re:American Advantage (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355829)

> 2) Really have more wealth? Some do yes, but it is nothing like 30 years ago. These days the problem is that you have a set of folks that have money and others that do not.

The US standard of living has always been higher and Americans have more disposable income. Even Europeans that are supposed to be well off live in conditions that most American professionals would consider intolerable.

It helps to actually get out and see the world so you don't have to listen to anyone else's propaganda.

Some things might seem better in Europe if you don't bother to scratch the surface. It's very easy to selectively present information or cook numbers to suit a particular agenda.

Re:American Advantage (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355567)

3) This is an advantage against Europe etc. America values success. Its a virtue. If you hate the 1% then doing something that causes you to be part of that 1% can actually be discouraged. Australia is a good example, there the most successful are mocked while in the USA the most successful are giving special privilege.

There is a difference between valuing achievement and valuing accumulation of wealth. As America passes from the former to the latter, it takes a walk from the throne room to the bathroom.

4) Americans can always go back to school.

In most of Europe you get not less than one free go - in the US you get between zero and one free go. This potentially makes for a more class-based economy in the US.

However, failures like France tend to very much grade to a test curve rather than on practice ability - e.g. medicine depends on repeatedly creaming off the people who pass with the highest grades at various exams and throwing out the rest, before anyone has spent one minute actually being a a doctor. This produces a country of people who have revised well for the test.

France not a failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355661)

The only wrong thing in France is that they spend too much on all sorts of programs. Their industry is highly capable. It were Exocet missiles which sunk two anglo frigates. It is a partially french plane which is the largest in commercial passenger biz. They lead in CAD/CAE. I could go on with this list for at least 200 more words. They do the maximum for their size of country.

Captcha: incest

Re:France not a failure (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355757)

Exocet missiles which sunk two anglo frigates

Building a missile which can hit an unexpecting ship is hardly what I'd call the peak of human engineering. The British military were known to have shit for missile defences and the warhead lodged in the Sheffield for a few days didn't even explode.

It is a partially french plane which is the largest in commercial passenger biz.

Airbus is certainly mostly European but I'd barely call it "French" as far as engineering is concerned. Anyway, single examples of excellent (and Airbus are excellent) are not what takes a country forward, but a wholly well-educated workforce. There is nothing productive in a university system which randomly kicks out people who have the potential to be perfectly competent (even brilliant) merely because they haven't passed some theoretical exams in the top x%. This is the worst possible way of nurturing talent.

I could go on with this list for at least 200 more words.

Aim higher.

They do the maximum for their size of country.

In what sense?

Ok Hazel (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356085)

France is about 60 million people, the US about 360. BUT, they have

* their own fighter program

* an own engine for their fighter

* an own radar for their fighter

* their own ballistic missile subs (not designed by the US)

* their own ballistic missile (not designed by the US)

* their own nukes, which designed and tested BY THEMSELVES. Not like the lazy brits got them from America.

* their own tanks

* a first rate SAR satellite system (flown by Germany, designed by France)

* their own designed tank

* the leading industrial gas company (Air Liquide)

* still several car makers, unlike Britain

* CATIA (look it up)

* the TGV, which is the fastest wheeled train

* lots of nuclear power so that they can economically heat with leccy

* the reactors are their own design

* the nukes are of course built by themselves

* their role in Airbus certainly is the MAJOR role

* the major role in Arianespace, one of the most modern sat launchers

* a real, catapult-launched aircraft carrier

So, for a country of this size, you can simply not do more. And if they are kind of exhausted, it is exhaustion from very hard work. Don't believe the bullshit stereotypes.

Besides (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356121)

They are definitely #1 in luxury stuff like wine, perfume, leather handbags and good food. Go there, try out. Believe. And all of that is big business. Companies like Danone, Perrier, LVMH.

Yeah, and I think they deserve more recognition than the purveyors of crap like McDonalds or Burger king. Because they don't aim for max calories but for max taste.

Study philosophy (2)

CyberLife (63954) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355409)

Being good at general scientific reasoning requires a firm understanding of scientific philosophy. This is not a subject many people encounter directly unless they're on a scientific track at a university. Very few, if any, will pick it up just from engaging in scientific activity.

Time spent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355429)

There's probably auite a simple explanation to Chinese spending twice the time to get equal results. I spent some time studying in Asia, and it was based very firmly on remembering rather then understanding. The students spent most of the time studying on math exams trying to mesmerize all the equazions, while here in Finland we could take the equazion book with us to the exam, and the test was about how well we understood and could implement.

However I don't understand how somebody could assume you don't have challenges with your educational system based on that alone. You're problem is not really quality as much as consistency. You have the best schools and some of the smartest students, but you also have some pretty bad schools... I assume you'll be on top on any test which looks for the best, but tailing behind if the test measures an average over all students in the whole country.

Re:Time spent? (2)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355887)

The [Chinese] students spent most of the time studying on math exams trying to mesmerize all the equations, while here in Finland we could take the equation book with us to the exam, and the test was about how well we understood and could implement.

For decades scholars have pointed out how Asian schools focus on rote memorization while western schools focus more on practical application. It has created an environment where the west invents and the east refines.

The United States has started shifting towards a more eastern approach due to the federal "No Child Left Behind Act" which requires extensive testing using standardized exams. Dynamic learning is being replaced by rote memorization. I could see this significantly hampering creativity in the youth of the US. But many people like to see simple definitive reports on the progress of their youth. Standardized exams provide that. It is much harder to evaluate complex and abstract thinking.

You have the best schools and some of the smartest students, but you also have some pretty bad schools...

There are about 5 million Finns versus 300 million Americans. Even if Finland produces a higher rate of doctorates per capita than the US, the simple fact that the US has 60× the population means that the US going to produce more overall.

And a major problem is the US is that the quality of the schools are very inconsistent. In areas heavily populated by poor minorities or in the Bible Belt, schools will often be substandard either because they lack the funding or because the areas lack an emphasis on (or have an outright aversion to) strong education. Once you get out of those areas, the quality of education becomes comparable to northwestern Europe.

The real problem with these studies (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355433)

Is that they report the mean result, when they really should focus on something like the mean of the uppermost quartile, or somesuch.

You don't need the whole herd to drive innovation - you need just need to make sure you have a critical mass of sufficiently creative and intelligent people.

Re:The real problem with these studies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355473)

(and a lot of dumb ones to drive the fanboi populations)

Re:The real problem with these studies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355871)

Something I realized when I got to college and my exams started coming back to me with mean, std.dev., median, mode

Re:The real problem with these studies (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356161)

Mod up, especially true in large geographic nations. If you compare a score in Singapore (a city state) to Malaysia (which includes KL, Penang, but also Borneo), the nation with smaller borders does better in tests because there is less farming etc. geography. Singapore used to be part of Malaysia, which is why I use it in the analogy.

America fuck yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355439)

Almost as good as development countries!

Different reason (3, Funny)

udachny (2454394) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355469)

Yeah, American "school lag" does not matter, but it doesn't matter for a different reason. It doesn't matter because education is irrelevant in USA, there is no new manufacturing, old manufacturing is leaving. The people who care about their kids will send them to private schools and probably those kids will not have a 'lag' or it will be a smaller 'lag' and kids that are not sent to private schools are on a lower socio-economic status, probably would have been factory workers in the past, but since today there are no factories, they'll end up serving fries and in other various service sector jobs until the service sector economy melts down and once it does, it won't matter at all what your education was in the past life.

The only thing that will matter in the new life is how well you are able to survive in really harsh economic conditions, no jobs, no money. Does education lag matter in those conditions? Unlikely.

The medium of wealth (1)

QX-Mat (460729) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355517)

An economist would say that, if you take away money, you don't become less wealthy. For a long time the wealth has been a measure of your ability to produce which essentially boils down to the amount of tapped (exploitable) man-power you (and your country) have

Re:The medium of wealth (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355599)

Citation please.

I don't know what economist would confuse money with wealth. Money can be converted to wealth, but money itself is not wealth.

Great, let's forgo schooling altogether! (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355551)

I wonder how that will work out? Seriously, since at least a century, we often had the best and brightest immigrants and I wonder how much that is skewing results? Something that MAY NOT continue. Especially if our fortunes go down, or our IP laws appear too restrictive.

Perhaps it's too early to measure China, or they suffer from too rigid a school system, or like Japan, their language is cumbersome it takes up a significant portion of schooling to just learn it, or as the one Ted Talks suggest - normal schools built on the factory model kill creativity, and so the asian ones must be doing that to an even greater degree.

But at least, like the fast food model, they ensure a minimum standard coming out. But that is public school's entire downfall. One size fits all. The person who wants to become the next doctor or scientific researcher is forced to do the same basic schooling as the person who just wants to fix cars until a ridiculously high grade.

I'm pretty sure by age 12, you can pretty much tell who the academic stars will be, who is mediocre and who the lazy slobs are. But that's 6th grade and still 3-4 more years are wasted on keeping everyone more or less the same. I'm pretty sure gymnastic teams or iceskating coaches need that long to spot who will be the talent and who will be the also ran.

But this is more than spotting stars in order to nurture them. Not everyone who does bad in school does bad in life. But the answer for them isn't always perpetually more years of school. We bought into the hype that formal education is the answer to everything that HR departments are requiring degrees for every little job and totally ignoring education outside the classroom that may be much better suited for training towards the work at hand. (I.e. the German model of apprenticeships).

also ignoring tech / trades schools (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355793)

And it also does not help that some of the tech and trades schools are being pulled into the degree system when they should more drop in / cert like.

Now when you have places like tribeca flashpoint that is only a 2 year program but gives you real work skills but you still have places like TV channels that want you to have a 4 year Communications degree to work master control.

Now master control is a very tech job and you need to have skills on how to work the hardware / equipment. Now a Communications degree at college is more on the theory / how to write (aka newspaper writing) then working with hands on part.

Not only does a college degree come with a lot of filler it also comes with a high level theory view and also at times is still stuck in some of the old medieval times views / ideas on college and some college classes are very slow to be updated for to days tech.

There are lot's field where what the theory is and whats in the books is not the same in the field and you do need the field skills and people in the fields need some of the book and theory but not years of it.

We don't need a factory full of foreman and we also need at least some of the foreman to be able to jump in from time to time to do the work. And we also need take the idea that not all works are cut out to be a good foreman / bosses. AKA the peter principle.

Re:Great, let's forgo schooling altogether! (1)

m00sh (2538182) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355995)

I wonder how that will work out? Seriously, since at least a century, we often had the best and brightest immigrants and I wonder how much that is skewing results? Something that MAY NOT continue. Especially if our fortunes go down, or our IP laws appear too restrictive.

Most of the immigrants are college level and beyond. I doubt they are doing scientific reasoning testing on college and graduate students. So, I don't think that factor plays into it. Or, did you mean that the kids of the best and brightest immigrants do better on the scientific reasoning test? Or maybe they do test it on college students? It doesn't say from the article.

Perhaps it's too early to measure China, or they suffer from too rigid a school system, or like Japan, their language is cumbersome it takes up a significant portion of schooling to just learn it, or as the one Ted Talks suggest - normal schools built on the factory model kill creativity, and so the asian ones must be doing that to an even greater degree.

I'm sick and tired of all the pet theories people have about China. Seems like everyone has a handful of these now.

But at least, like the fast food model, they ensure a minimum standard coming out. But that is public school's entire downfall. One size fits all. The person who wants to become the next doctor or scientific researcher is forced to do the same basic schooling as the person who just wants to fix cars until a ridiculously high grade.

Suburb public schools are miles better than downtown city public schools. Then, there are private schools and prep schools. Public schooling has a whole spectrum of quality.

I'm pretty sure by age 12, you can pretty much tell who the academic stars will be, who is mediocre and who the lazy slobs are. But that's 6th grade and still 3-4 more years are wasted on keeping everyone more or less the same. I'm pretty sure gymnastic teams or iceskating coaches need that long to spot who will be the talent and who will be the also ran.

This where the college you go to comes in. MIT, Caltech like schools choose the top students in engineering, others in athletics and so on.

But this is more than spotting stars in order to nurture them. Not everyone who does bad in school does bad in life. But the answer for them isn't always perpetually more years of school. We bought into the hype that formal education is the answer to everything that HR departments are requiring degrees for every little job and totally ignoring education outside the classroom that may be much better suited for training towards the work at hand. (I.e. the German model of apprenticeships).

Most jobs are given through word of mouth and not through HR departments. HR departments are there to find out what's wrong with you and not what's right with you.

Wrong Country, Wrong Issue (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355573)

Fine, China isn't any better than the U.S. at training skilled workers. But India is, judging from the accents I hear in the workplace.

Anyway, the OECD rankings are about skill levels, not classroom hours. More teaching doesn't necessarily translate into skills, but better teaching certainly does.

And let's not forget that we not only can't afford to lag, we can't even afford to just keep up. Americans don't work cheap, so if they want to work, they need to work better.

Muhahaha (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355755)

India having solid education ? They are just parroting the stuff developed in America. Nearly no innovations by themselves. The Chinese have at least done some of their own engineering, looking at Huawei and their space program. They are highly disciplined while the Indians are all greedy cynics. India is still a shithole while Chinese discipline has made them more modern than America in some aspects (e.g. high speed rail). Of course not in all aspects.

Re:Wrong Country, Wrong Issue (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356003)

It sounded as if you said workplace rather than some other scientific environment the summary seems to imply... therefore I'm thinking you refer to outsourcing potential rather than scientific prowess.

While that is tangential to the main discussion, I'll add that it's safe to say India's skilled worker training is a product of their MUCH wider pool of ENGLISH speakers (they can easily interact with us in the modern English-speaking consumer world).

China's masses are different in that they just can't compete with India's advantage. But they are very good at mass production contracts, and you only need one tongue for those --the salesman's. Everyone else can just work, but there little innovation to be found in an assembly line.

Falacy of the Average (5, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355607)

The ratings you see in the OECD summary are averages. The thing is that the US has a much more diverse population and spread in economic status than most other, often much smaller countries in this measurement.

Results in US suburban schools are generally as good as the top rated countries, and the results of the top students in these schools ranks very highly indeed.

In any society you don't really need that many innovators to propel growth - and the US has a good population of high achievers due to the broadness of the distribution of educational results it gets.

The real problem with US society is the size of the tail on the other side of the curve. This represents a real drag on the US economy.

Re:Falacy of the Average (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356137)

So you are saying that because of the large numbers, the numbers on the end of the scale are larger as well? Wow.
Using percentages evens this out.

Re:Falacy of the Average (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356201)

You have that low a uid, but you can't read yet? Wow.
There are some arguments to be made about the parent post, but you sure didn't make them.

asia is big on the TEST and cramming for a test (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355619)

asia is big on the TEST and cramming for a test.

And they also do solo work as group work.

Error in logic (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355625)

If I'm understanding this correctly, what they're saying is that the average american does as well at reasoning problems as the average chinese person. Well, that's sorta obvious: Racial, cultural, and geographical differences in populations haven't shown to influence intelligence. But the conclusions they reach are total crap -- I could change the wording and say that "Why Nigeria's school 'lag' has never mattered," and make similar comparisons and reach similar conclusions, but few people are going to say that Nigeria's educational system couldn't use a big upgrade.

I can replot this data and reach a far less politically correct conclusion: The "lag" is based on economic averages, not most common realities. We have a massive wealth inequity problem in this country, but you'd never know it by simply averaging all the numbers together. Cut off the top and bottom 10% (the edge cases), and suddenly your data looks a helluva lot different. The helluva lot different conclusion is... we suck.

The real issue contained in the report... (5, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355631)

... is that if you click through to the graph, on page 2 [dropbox.com] , you can see that the US is stagnating, whereas pretty much every other country is bettering itself.

The US started at a relatively high position on the graph, so the educational issues haven't been too much of a problem, but the US is being rapidly overtaken by a whole host of other countries. It is disingenuous (see one of the articles between the summary and the graph) to claim that it has never mattered that the US's educational system is poor, so everything is peachy. Sure, it hasn't mattered *until* *now*... How does it go ? Past performance is no guarantee of future success...

Simon.

Re:The real issue contained in the report... (2)

dumcob (2595259) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355951)

I don't think countries matter in this conversation. Bright people will follow the best opportunities and settle in locations with highest standards of living. The US still has both.

But how are American doing at following orders? (0)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355635)

School it there to institutionalize students. To make them compliant, and to teach them not to question authority. Learning is something you do on the job.

Apples and Oranges (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355687)

For instance, while Chinese students, on average, have twice the number of instructional hours as Americans, both countries have identical scores on tests of scientific reasoning.

So what? One set of students is studying Chinese, which is not easy and a never-ending process. The other set of student is studying English. One set of students is learning how to clean their own classrooms, clean their own toilets, grow their own food, learn good socialist "morals", and learn to behave like a military unit. The other set of students is really not learning any of those things.

Besides even in China, there are vast differences between schools and between the different populations they serve. This guy is really comparing apples and oranges. He already has an opinion, and he's just picking up vague facts that sound like they might support his opinion. That's just too bad, because the question he was asking was actually pretty good. It would have been interesting to read an objective informed opinion on this issue.

The Nazi Scientist Supply Has Run Out (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355727)

America would not have made it to the moon without the nice SS Sturmbannführer (Major) Wernher von Braun before the Russkies, if ever (he was a glowing American in his role as a NASA director later). Two guys from my home town of 10000 people near Stuttgart developed films for the Corona program. They were gobbled up by America immediately after the war.

America has lived off solidly educated people from foreign countries for a long time. Now that supply has become a small trickle. China is running huge R&D programs in both government and academia and many good Chinese go back to their country. I guess Americans must ratchet up the standards or be relegated in the economic pecking order.

Bad Statistics (0)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355769)

This is an example of bad statistics. Much like the newborn survival statistics. They're warped because some countries simply don't count children less than 100 days old which is when most deaths occur. Similarly with the education statistics some countries count only the students who are prepping at the advanced level or warp the stats in other ways. This is then used by various groups to further their own agendas such as increasing teacher pay, etc. Lies, damn lies and statistics.

The real reason it doesn't matter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355773)

$$$

These benchmarks are meaningless for many reasons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41355783)

Some of the leading countries (ex. the East Asian Tigers [wikipedia.org] ) are products of recent merit-based selection. Only the smartest most ambitious people came from Mainland China to Hong Kong or Singapore, or at least made sure they were on the right side of the 38th parallel. (Perhaps even Switzerland has attracted the most ambitious Frenchmen / Germans / Italians?) This would obviously affect things like hereditary intelligence, parental pressure, work ethic, and thus student test scores in the positive direction... USA also experienced such an effect at some point, but to a much lower degree, with more of the immigrants being the "wretched refuse" of Europe's "teeming shore"...

All of the leading countries have a significantly lower fertility rate [wikipedia.org] than the USA. It reaches as low as 1.22 in South Korea, 1.15 in Singapore, 1.1 in Hong Kong - that pretty much means that the population would be cut almost in half with each generation! Many of those countries have a much smarter immigration policy than the USA, making up the difference with the best and brightest professionals rather than the best swimmers of the Rio Grande... (No offense to anyone who got to USA "illegally" - I'm not calling you dumb, just not a product of a meritocratic selection process that favors intelligence, and I do hope that you can stay.) Furthermore, children in single child households tend to receive more parental attention, spend more time interacting with adults, and be more introverted - all of which is conducive to higher test scores.

USA has much variation between the states, with the formerly agricultural regions still weighing it down. You see the same effect in Europe as well, with the countries that never had much feudalism and were the first to develop capitalism and industrialize having much higher scores.

South Korea has an advantage over other East Asian countries in that they use the world's awesomest phonetic alphabet that anyone can learn in a day, which means students don't have to spend myriads of time learning Hanzi characters. (This makes the achievement of Hong Kong even more remarkable - Cantonese just might be the #1 hardest language in the world, with a writing system that was really intended for Mandarin!) English spelling, on the other hand, requires almost as much irrational memorization as the Hanzi characters, which takes student energy away from science and math.

Some countries (ex. Norway) have huge amounts of natural resources per capita, which are nationalized (or highly taxed), and that results in huge funds being available for education.

Some countries (ex. Finland) are very homogeneous, and base their whole new national mythos around performing well on those tests...

And of course some of the leading countries have school choice...

--libman

What scientific reasoning? (2)

m00sh (2538182) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355859)

The US is littered with policies and regulations built up on shaky statistical evidence. As an example, the policy of student confidence correlation with academic achievement. The idea was that since they are correlated if we increase student confidence we will increase academic achievement. We rank freakishly highest in student confidence but academic achievement isn't increasing.

The nation of the top scientific reasoners are satisfied with such statistical garbage is beyond belief. Does any of these statistical measures mean anything? How much is theories POTA (pulled out of the azule) and how much is statistically tested with all the factors accounted for. Even respectable papers do a bit of factor hiding. There was a paper that found that overweight patients in hospitals survive more from illness than normal weight patients - completely hiding the age factor in the statistical analysis. Normal weight patients who are admitted for illness were much much older than overweight patients!

Then the reaction of these news stories is always the same patterns: people with preconceived world view trying to fix the news to their views. Ooh, it doesn't say what happens 10 years into the future, ooh it shows public school policy X is bad etc etc.

matters or not (2)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355885)

I have experienced a few education systems (including the US), some myself, some through my sister, some through a lot of relatives, some through my academic contacts' recollections and stories. And I have to tell there are several sides to this matters-doesn't-matter in the case of the US (you know, compulsory Babylon5 reference of the 3-sided sword: my side, your side and the truth).

So, thing is, the education in the US is as it is, but:
- There is a constant high influx of students and researchers from abroad, who become part of the system on the higher level, provide talent, and contribute to the US scientific and economic growth. There are not many countries for which this applies as well as to the US.
- Education in the US might be inferior from some points of view, but there are not many countries where e.g. university labs can afford to spend that much money as at many US universities. And that can count _very_ much, access to journal subscriptions, to expensive equipment, technologies which for a lot of university labs abroad are simply unreachable (some of them for financial reasons, other for export rule reasons, etc.).

Does it matter that the US education system is sometimes inferior? Well, in the long run it might matter, and I personally can't understand how the US managed to stay afloat from this point of view. You know, geniuses manage to find the way to the top even in a bad education system, but in such a system a lot of middle-average level people who might be very very important contributors to the economy might not raise to a level to actually turn out useful, but instead they remain below, simply beacuse the system doesn't help them enough to reach their full potential.

Hard and full and proper basic education (I mean sub-university levels here) is also very important, in some sense much more important than the university level, since this creates, establishes and retains the average level of intelligence of a country. I think this is a very important point and much more emphasis should be put there. Money-wise and policy-wise as well.

Mark Twain said it best. (2)

Type44Q (1233630) | more than 2 years ago | (#41355917)

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

-Samuel Clemens

Talking about scientific reasoning (3, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356021)

I sense a little fallacy behind first comparing American education to the developed countries and then comparing them to China on scientific reasoning.

Not really (1)

clevershark (130296) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356177)

America works right now because it has the capacity of importing the knowledge workers it needs. When I worked in IT in the NYC area I'm pretty sure that I worked with a greater number of non-Americans than Americans, overall.

With the United States getting ever more restricted and paranoid in immigration matters, that may not be possible for the future. Let's also not forget that the US's success in attracting that sort of immigration was pretty much entirely reliant on being the one big fish in the pond, which status will not last.

Perhaps it's that standarized tests don't matter. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356215)

Much. Or at all when comparing across cultures and languages.

Skills AND Intelligence are required! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41356225)

As a working/published scientist I can tell you that what is needed is a combination of both practical skills and scientific reasoning/understanding/"feel".
I kick myself every day for not paying enough attention in school. "Memorization is for idiots," I said. It would greatly enhance my output if I'd memorized all of the things I was supposed to memorize at the time, instead of being full of myself for how much smarter I was than the other students.
An example: I once spent most of a day to derive the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%E2%80%93Penrose_pseudoinverse [wikipedia.org] which I needed, but had not been exposed to in my limited self-taught Linear Algebra. Sure, I guess I'm smart. Still, one feels like an idiot to realize they spent most of a day sweating over something that diligent students learnt in an hour.

BOTH understanding AND rote-learning are necessary. Take it from me, I very much learnt this the hard way.

If you can't win the competition, change the rules (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356229)

"Hey, China beat us again!"

"Aw, that ranking doesn't matter anyway . . . who cares . . . ? We're better, like, at, you know, stuff that you can't measure . . . got it . . . ?"

In other news... humans dont need food or air! (2)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356269)

That there edjumakation is fer city folk.
Lewann and me and the 8 wait 9 kids dont need no more book learnin we already have a sweet doublewide an all them welfare checks we gettin.

oh wow (3, Insightful)

Velex (120469) | more than 2 years ago | (#41356285)

lol

Allow me to elaborate. It's the culture, stupid. While the older generation has a tendency to proclaim that the younger generation is somehow in decline, I think that the objective truth that it may just be the case here is made a bit more real to TechCrunch's reaction to these numbers.

So, essentially, the OECD is saying once again, "Hey, America, you're still hopelessly behind." Now, we have TechCrunch taking a teenage attitude about it. Absolutely amazing.

What are these mystical "gainful market skills" anyway? How are those measured? I've met more than enough HR bunnies and management majors who can't reason their way out of a paper bag. They got their job because they're an alumnus at blablabla university and know so-and-so, not because they even understand basic principles of even keeping an accurate employee roster on file. But hey, solving their asinine problems makes me money, so why am I complaining?

It's clear that the USA is running on little more than momentum anymore. Maybe it's true that all you need is a few innovators, but for every Elon Musk who got lucky and made it big, there are 10 rent seekers who got lucky and made it big and 100 "innovators" who are of the same caliber as Musk but just didn't make it big. All that talent is wasted working meaningless jobs where the only innovation they may do is to innovate how to take a broken, unorganized spreadsheet of employee info and somehow feed it into a computer system for tracking absentees.

Where's a job where I can actually put my talents to some gainful use for the human species? They aren't there, because the market wants someone who can talk buzzwords, foresee "what if" scenarios while being wise enough not to confuse the client by discussing contingencies in a rational manner ahread of time, and somebody whose talents are wasted on reorganizing spreadsheets for arrogant, egotistical figureheads who only have their position because they knew somebody.

Most people call me the arrogant one, and I'm sure I'll get more than enough flames agreeing. For a long time, I worried that I actually was arrogant. What I learned though is that I'm not arrogant; I'm merely talented. It's the figureheads who are arrogant, who confuse their 6 figure income with having talent. Instead, what I've learned to do is to stroke egos. What a waste. But hey, it pays the bills.

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