“So the U.S. education system is actually doing fine in many areas and is not being outpaced by competitors. The one exception is math, where the U.S. really does underperform. Poor math education isn’t a problem for U.S. technological dominance; the country can always take in more skilled immigrants to fill engineering and research jobs that native-born workers can’t do. But it’s not fair for native-born Americans to be shut out of high-paying STEM jobs because of the low quality of the nation’s math education. The U.S. needs to do better.”
Why do US students do badly in math?
“It might simply be because the US directs more resources toward reading and verbal education to the detriment of quantitative skills. It stands to reason that if American kids can learn to read better than kids from Taiwan or Germany, then they’re smart enough to make up some of the gap in math. Another problem might be a culture that believes too much in the importance of inborn ability rather than hard work and persistence. Students often tend to view math as an intelligence test rather than a skill to be learned, causing anxiety that worsens their performance. Additionally, evidence suggests that more active student participation and the cultivation of a mathematical mindset are effective approaches. It’s also possible that U.S. math education has never fully recovered from a failed experiment in teaching methods in the 1960s and 1970s.”