On the Differences Between American Education and The Rest / by Muhammad Amir Ayub

From the Economist:

At the heart of the problem is an educational ethos that prizes building self-esteem over academic attainment. This is based on a theory that self-confidence leads to all manner of other virtues, including academic achievement, because children who feel good about themselves will love learning – right?

I'm not sure if our education system prioritizes creativity, self-esteem and sports as much as other developed countries (other than the States), but there are downsides to America's fascination with those fields by sacrificing the "sciences": 

According to the OECD’s latest international education rankings, American children are rated average at reading, below average at science, and poor at maths, at which they rank 27th out of 34 developed countries. At 15, children in Massachusetts, where education standards are higher than in most states, are so far behind their counterparts in Shanghai at maths that it would take them more than two years of regular education to catch up.


In a study of eight countries, American children came top at thinking they were good at maths, but bottom at maths. For Korean children, the inverse was true: they considered themselves poorer at maths than the children of any other country, but were the best. The OECD study, similarly, found that American children believe they are good at maths and, indeed, are adept at very simple sums; but give them something halfway tricky and they struggle.

I'm pretty sure that education everywhere evolves in their own pace and direction, but in Malaysia (at least back then) the system wasn't too good either. In the States I learned basic skeletal anatomy in 3rd grade and world history in 6th grade, stuff that wasn't taught in the Malaysian education system until at least years later (world history was what, Form 5?). And there was much more creative/arts education there, compared with the "churning out results" nature of East and Southeastern Asian education. And let's not talk about sports; it's like a night and day difference.

But hey, in spite of their so-called flawed school education system, they have the highest rate of scientific innovations right? You could argue that it's partly from immigration, but hey you should get my point.

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