It Isn't the Culture, Stupid

Barry Garelick – The news last week that Shanghai students achieved the top scores in math on the international PISA exam was for some of us not exactly a wake-up call (as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan characterized it) or a Sputnik moment (as President Obama called it).

 We’ve seen this result before.  We’ve seen the reactions and the theories and the excuses that purport to explain why the US does so poorly in math.  In fact, there are three main variations used to explain why Chinese/Asian students do so well in international exams:

·         Version 1: They are taught using rote learning and then regurgitate the results on exams that test how well they memorize the procedures of how to solve specific problems. 

·         Version 2:  They are taught using the reform methods of a “problem based approach” that doesn’t rely on drills, and instills critical thinking and higher order thinking skills

·         Version 3: The teacher or the culture produces the proper conditions for learning

 

It’s hard to know where to start with these, so let’s take them in order.

 

Version 1:  In a letter to the N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/opinion/l09test.html?scp=8&sq=PISA;%20math&st=cse) the writer asserts that low scores on PISA may be indicative of a system that rejects the traditional “drill and kill” and direct instruction approach to teaching math.  Low scores are evidence that we are not using the educational techniques deemed to be ineffective by the education community.  The letter writer also stated that our system focuses on critical thinking and “authentic” problem solving and—in a Patrick Henry-like liberty-or-death finish—argued that if it’s a choice between higher test scores in basic skills and a “well rounded critically minded student”, he would take the latter.  Alas, he concludes that we aren’t doing that very well either.

 

Version 2:  This version is a backhanded way of saying that math education is bad in the United States because the various education reforms (e.g., differentiated instruction, inquiry-based learning, discovery learning, problem-based learning, student-centered learning, collaborative learning, small groups, the list goes on) were not properly implemented nor understood by teachers.  They do this by talking about how they use student-centered, problem-based approaches.  In fact, Jonathan Plucker, an education professor at Indiana University states this in an interview with CNN. (http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2010/12/09/exp.am.intv.plucker.cnn?iref=allsearch) He states that the Chinese have a “vastly different curriculum; much more problem based.  Not as much drill and kill as people seem to stereotype as the Chinese are having kids memorize things for tests.” 

It never occurs to the people posing these arguments that math education in the US suffers  because of the reforms and the textbooks written for them.  Nor does it occur to them that what they think they see being practiced in China are not the reforms that they bemoan are not being practiced here.

Version 3:  This is the “It’s the culture, stupid” argument that usually carries the warning “Don’t try this at home.” Dr. Plucker mentions culture as well, as does a paper I happened to find online the day the PISA results were announced—a paper by Chap Sam Lim that focuses on how math is taught in Shanghai, the region which achieved the highest math scores of the 60+ nations participating in the PISA exam. ( http://www.merga.net.au/documents/MERJ_19_1_Lim.pdf )  The author states that “We need to take note of cultural differences, so that we know what to adopt, how to adopt and what we need to modify.  Merely adopting foreign practices into our own culture may not necessarily work as well as we might hope.”

            This argument is based on the observation that the education-valued culture manifests itself in ways that are unlikely to happen here: long school days, after-school math “clubs” in which math facts and procedures are drilled (pointed to by some as evidence that students in China are engaging in rote learning), long hours studying and teachers who know the subject matter extremely well. The “it’s the culture” argument, fails to acknowledge, however, that the Chinese/Asian value of education is not just about hard working and respectful students.  The culture is also responsible for the adoption of a coherent and effective curriculum—one that requires well-written and logically sequenced textbooks and good solid instruction.  Singapore’s math program is an example of such a program that despite differences between US and Singaporean culture, has managed to work well where it has been implemented here.  This doesn’t mean the techniques and methods used in Singapore and China will be ineffective here.  Nor does it mean that teachers here will be unable to teach it.  The “culture argument” also paints a picture of U.S. culture as totally oblivious to educational values and ignores the subcultures that place a value equal to that seen in China and other countries. Those are the students whose goals are to enter the top universities in the US, who work very hard and take AP classes and exams.  Some of the parents of those students have protested against the adoption of substandard math programs such as Investigations in Number, Data and Space, and Everyday Math.  These are the parents who have been told by school boards that the traditional method of teaching math may have worked for some, but not for all.  Those are the parents who have discovered that the traditional methods of teaching math (in the 50’s and 60’s) work very well indeed, and are similar in some respects to how it is taught overseas.

            The Lim paper points to some of the techniques used in teaching math in Shanghai: requiring students to master proofs, providing a variety of mathematical questions rather than having students answering variations of the same drill repeatedly and teachers challenging their students by asking students questions such as “Why?”, “How?”, “What if?” The drills may not be apparent to observers (like Dr. Plucker who remarked that there is no “drill and kill”) because they may not be held in class; they may occur after school in tutoring centers, or at the students’ homes.  The amount of time that students in China put in to studying and working problems is considered on the one hand to be an artifact of the culture, but is rarely seen as a form of drilling.  But regardless of where the drills occur, the fact that they do occur does not undermine the effectiveness of the curriculum. Nor does procedural fluency take a back seat to conceptual understanding and problem solving.

What Will Happen Next

What will happen next is likely a call to look at how the top scoring nations are doing it and what we can be doing better.  But the wake-up call and Sputnik moment has already happened.  We’ve already looked.  The Department of Education in 2005 contracted to have a report done on Singapore’s math program. (See http://www.keysschool.com/Documents/SingaporeReport.pdf)  And in 2006, a Presidential National Mathematics Advisory Panel was formed to examine how K-8 math education could be improved in the US (See http://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-report.pdf ).    Let’s hope we stop bickering about what’s happening overseas and take a look at what we’ve already done.  At the very least, it will save the taxpayers some money.  And it might even help some kids learn math.

 

 

Barry Garelick is an analyst for a federal agency and is also the co-founder of the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math.  (http://usworldclassmath.webs.com/)

Comments


  1. Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

    For confirmation that Mr. Garelick is spot-on, read about the 5th grade teacher in WA State at Schmitz Park School were 5th graders scored the best in the Seattle School District and were at #3 in the state.

    It describes the everyday happenings and how the leadership of a large school district effects instructional materials selection and instructional practices.

    http://crosscut.com/2010/12/14/education/20446/-Outsiders–who-teach-in-Seattle-fly-under-the-radar-to-find-success-with-kids/


  2. Concerned Teacher

    The Asian community values hard work. Play is not important. Children are expected to do their job well, and their job is school and whatever else they are enrolled in. In my area we see Asian children excelling at music competitions (and the participants are heavily weighted toward Asian), ice skating, whatever they are involved in. They work hard and do their best. Asian college students fill the library and they sit and work in groups, another strength of the culture. School, learning and teachers are valued. Respecting adults is a mandate.

    Insofar as curriculum, it is well documented that the math standards throughout the U.S. easily range from 50-100% more in quantity each year than those of other nations. Our teachers are burdened with a broad quantity of skills and concepts to teach annually and it is not possible to teach to mastery.

    We have known these things for years. So, yes, it is the culture. Imbued within the Asian culture is an element of respect, a work ethic and the expectation that students will give their all to their endeavors.

    Our culture, emanating from many homes, the popular culture, etc. often denigrates education, questions the worth of teachers and extols entertainment as virtue. We are culturally very different.

    We can change our math standards, and we should. In the meantime, somehow the culture of instant gratification and pleasure principle needs adjusting and the culture is established largely in the home, the community and with the peer group. Teachers have less influence on students than these other "forces."

    Our students who take rigorous courses, work hard and have supportive parents do just as well, or better, than their counterparts in other nations. I simply do not see a work ethic among well over 50% of our high school age youth.


  3. Barry Garelick

    Concerned teacher:

    Agreed that the Asian culture is as you describe. It is also a culture that has elected the curricula, methods and yes, even drills, which we maintain does not work. The fact that they have a different culture does not undermine the methods they use to teach math. Yet, reformers choose not to see the traditional approaches used in Asian countries and instead see what they want to see: Inquiry-based and student-centered classes. They claim we aren't doing these things right, but that Asians are implementing our reforms correctly. That, in fact, is not what is happening.

    A paper by Alan Siegel shows how refomers see what they want to see, which is different than what actually happens, based on his observation of a video tape of a Japanese classroom. Located at: http://www.cs.nyu.edu/faculty/siegel/siegel.pdf


  4. Concerned Teacher

    Thanks for responding. I love the opportunity to share viewpoints.

    I was not taking issue with methodology, I was responding to the title of your article, which may have been misleading. I do believe culture has an enormous influence on student performance. Culture is difficult to describe in a single sentence. It is certainly far more than what parents expect or do. It involves our perception of reality, values, etc.

    American culture does NOT value education, teachers are not valued (just listen to and read about the teacher denigrating that is going on everywhere today), our popular culture and the complaints of many parents shine the light on what our culture does value.

    I believe public education is embedded in our culture, is shaped by it, reflects it. I also believe our teaching methods, our desire for instant fixes exemplifies our culture.
    Our schools are an effect of our culture far more than they are a cause.

    For some reason our best students seem to fare as well as the best foreign students. Our Asian students in the U.S. who have a work ethic perform and fare well on testing. They are attending the same schools and have the same teachers as the students who are not faring as well, the same teachers and schools that are presently under fire.

    It is a real challenge to isolate a single cause, or several causes. Any real change will only occur when we determine that we care deeply about our childrens' educations and we make a true committment to improving our schools and educational outcomes. We must treat our teachers as professionals who have much to add to this conversation.

    Absolutely, we should look at examples that appear to be working, we might even try some honest to goodness longitudinal studies. In the 1960s we saw the "first grade studies" done on reading methodology. Contrary to popular views today, a single superior method of teaching children to read was NOT identified. The teacher's belief and committment to what she was doing seemed to be a more powerful predictor. Good teachers were able to produce good readers via more than one route, and this became even more evident when the the same students were followed through third and fifth grades. For some reason, we never hear anything anymore about these studies. We seem to suffer from amnesia and we must reinvent the wheel each generation.

    I think we should rethink our math teaching and we should investigate what is working elsewhere. We need drill, but we also need meaning and application. It is like teaching reading, perhaps; we need phonics, but we need comprehension. Neither alone constitutes reading.

    There have been some frivolous programs published, but most teachers know the difference.


  5. Barry Garelick

    Thanks; I too enjoy communicating with you and others who have an interest in this topic.

    I chose the title to make a point. People point to culture as being the reason why the techniques/curricula used in China will not work here. There are some who think reform methods are the be-all end-all of math education, and that the methods used in China/Singapore will not work because they are "rote learning". In my opinion, this is the cultural stop sign, more so than laziness and instant gratification.


  6. Concerned Teacher

    I have never heard that "culture" is the culprit, but then I am a mere teacher and an Earth Science one at that. I don't know many teachers who disapprove of practice and some rote learning is necessary. The problem with an overemphasis on rote memorization bereft of meaning and understanding is obvious. I see it everyday with students who do not understand the concepts and cannot transfer any learning.


  7. Fix Society First

    The lefties always seem to blame issues outside of school such as poverty as a major reason kids can't learn. I have a vivid memory of a college professor stating slavery was the reason black kids couldn't learn to read…what an idiot! Regarding rote and drill you find very little of it in schools today. The "curriculum directors" who are fluky teachers given a promotion considering they play the game always manage to find an excuse on the latest and greatest which has been failing our schools for years.


  8. EduCrazy

    Thanks, Barry, for another terrific read. A quick note to Concerned Teacher — our board chair, along with the Superintendent and a representative from CREC (a regional CT education quasi-government operator of magnet schools) all quite publicly blamed the parents and "culture" at a televised forum on Dec 1, 2010 for low US performance on international exams.

    Like Barry, I've seen the school institution isolate, ignore, and even humiliate parents that value a culture of high expectations and hard work. The school institution is clearly a big part of the problem when you talk about the problems with "culture."


  9. Catherine Johnson

    It's not the case that our best students are the equal of the best students elsewhere.

    Here's a passage from the Baltimore Curriculum Project video, which is available online (links below). In this section, William Schmidt, who headed one of the TIMSS studies, is talking about the best American students:

    8:05 Schmidt: This system of ours has failed the elite kids, too. This is a little known fact because it wasn't emphasized very much, but in the early TIMSS study there was a high school specialist exam for those kids that were the AP physics kids and those that were the AP calculus kids. Those kids were last among their counterparts in the rest of the world. That is, if you took the elite track in the French system that was leading to math and science, these [American] kids were at the bottom. So we're failing those kids just as much as we're failing the kids on the other spectrum.

    video is here: Video: http://www.ezcasts.com/estreamingmedia/doors/bcp/default.asp?producer=980

    William Schmidt Baltimore Curriculum Project
    Dr. William H. Schmidt of Michigan State University
    Leading Minds K-12 Math Education Forum, April 24, 2008 in Baltimore.
    U.S. TIMSS NATIONAL RESEARCH COORDINATOR
    MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
    12th grade: http://ustimss.msu.edu/12gradepr.htm
    http://www.baltimorecp.org/leadingminds/index.htm
    http://www.baltimorecp.org/leadingminds/index.htm

    Original post:


  10. Concerned Teacher

    This has been quite a lively discussion. This topic has meat, too.

    I was at a holiday party last night given by a colleague. As I spoke with fellow teachers from my school whom I rarely have the opportunity to see (I have little time to leave my classroom, I teach, I work through lunch most days…). I was struck by a single theme: within our school districts teachers are not empowered, teachers are technicians. Administrators call meetings, arrive and tell us how it will be. There is no discussion, there is no true collaboration; our input and expertise is not valued. Teachers are left to workout the "details" of the mandates handed down, and this passes as teacher involvement. Teachers collaborate over the minutia.

    Or, in the past when my district put on the charade of teacher involvement (pre-NCLB), committees of teachers were convened to create recommendations, then the administration did what they intended in the first place.

    Folks, almost all teachers KNOW where the shortcomings in our methodology are found. Teachers themselves are wholly frustrated with programs they KNOW do not work. Teachers themselves are overridden again and again as fickle administrators make decisions, and change them every few years.

    Actually, I would like to see a much stronger teacher's union that focuses itself on curriculum and instruction (there is attention on that area, and our state and national magazines actually delve into a variety of issues that have meat, rather than merely bemoaning wages, working conditions and benefits).

    So, just to set the record straight, I wholly believe teachers want improvements, however teachers are never asked and they are shut out of conversations and decision making. Just look at the modern day experts the media relies almost exclusively upon: they are economists, policy wonks and data crunchers; >90% are never teachers or educators.

    This is a complex issue and a variety of things are at stake, thus I do not intend to oversimplify or suggest that better administrators are THE solution.

    For a moment, let us consider Finland and Singapore. From the bit of reading I have done I have gleaned that these two nations made decisions roughly 25 years ago to modernize, to create a 21st century state and economy. They were willing to take the time to build, one brick at a time, and education reform was embedded in a much larger economic and societal reform that the government actively supported. The methods were not destructive, instead they constructed, or reinvented their nations.

    Can we accomplish this, or are we presently too polarized in this nation to work for our own good and the future of our children and grand children, for it is they who will reap the rewards?


  11. Niki Hayes

    The notable writing for me in Barry's article was the following:

    "The culture is also responsible for the adoption of a coherent and effective curriculum—one that requires well-written and logically sequenced textbooks and good solid instruction. Singapore's math program is an example of such a program that despite differences between US and Singaporean culture, has managed to work well where it has been implemented here."

    So the one main "cultural difference" between America and high-achieving countries is the ADULT leadership/ culture within education. That "culture" makes decisions regarding curriculum, which influences textbook content and teaching, which are supposed to re-enforce PROVEN standards and methods, and which will allow our students to be tested on material similar to that found in other countries.


  12. Rich

    To: Concerned Teacher
    Hope you are still monitoring this thread, as I am a 1st grade teacher who is very interested in learning about the 1960s reading studies you mentioned earlier in this thread. I agree—there is no one "best" way to teach, yet that expectation is too often crammed down the throats of classroom teachers in this day and age by the current curriculum guru-of-the-moment, and then the administrators fall all over themselves to insist that we teach according to the current flavor-of-the-month. So, if you could direct me to those 1960s studies I would very much appreciate it. Thanks so much!


  13. Concerned Teacher

    Sadly, I am not able to do so. The Department of Ed. funded a series of studies. Researchers applied for these grants and a number of different reading methods that were around at the time were "pitted against one another," so to speak.

    Jeanne Chall's book had been published and had ignited a brouhaha, so there was an interest in determining what really was best, based upon research. My professor (I was in school during the 70s) was one of the researchers who followed his group through 5th grade, and he often referred to these studies, which were going on simultaneously.

    I find it interesting that a single method of teaching reading did not outshine all others. A phonics emphasis program did produce higher test scores at the end of first grade because students who had spent the most time learning to sound out words could out sound out their peers. However, these differences were no longer apparent by the end of third grade, where more holistically-based programs that placed a greater emphasis upon comprehension produced higher scores. Writing was looked at, too, and not just from the perspective of spelling.

    While phonics will always be an important skill to learn when learning to read, we have been "lied" to by some researchers and policy makers. It is not the end-all and be-all, but it rightly belongs in any beginning to read program. However, many children (I was one, as were both of my children) "intuit" phonics and do not require hours and hours of phonemic awareness and phonics drills in grades K and 1. They should receive short lessons and be allowed to READ.

    Rita Carbo reviewed all of Chall's research in the 1980s and discovered that she was not honest in her reporting of the research. For example, if a study drew 5 conclusions and only one supported her thesis, she referenced that conclusion exclusively, giving the appearance that the primary conclusion of a particular study supported heavy phonics, when it may not have.

    This was initially about math, which math may be somewhat different, I don't know. We do know there are poorly thought out programs and methods. I strongly criticize our math instruction here in the U.S., as do many of my colleagues.

    I suspect teaching math is a little like teaching reading: it must be balanced. You must have the phonics and it must be differentiated in the early grades to meet students' needs, but there is so much more and the more can and should be taught from the outset. Math instruction should include drill and practice, students need to develop a level of automaticity. We should study successful math teachers, but we may find some surprisingly different methods that all work in the hands of the teacher who believes in them and her students.


  14. Concerned Teacher

    "Sorenson attributes the success that Korean students have in science and math, not based on teaching strategies, curriculum, and methods, but the successes of these schools are imbedded in the Confucian culture." "Families in Korea center student's life and focus only on education." "The mother schedules every minute of her child's after-school time at special academies and institutes or in private tutoring." "In Korea, parents work extra hours just to pay for extra tutorial sessions."

    "Google" Confucian cultural circle: culture pervades, shapes and drives every institution within a society. Our public schools were shaped by our culture and they reflect our culture. Our schools are as "strong" as our culture.

    Just look at American sports if you would like to judge the role of culture in the endeavors of a nation.

    However, there is no simple formula, for while the culture "births" its institutions, both cultures and the institutions they create can and do evolve. The question seems to be how to best facilitate change, or even what actually constitutes positive change? Is it revealed as simply a number on a test? We should be asking this question before we condemn our schools over TIMMS or PISA scores.

    Finally, I personally suspect that our culture, which has been influenced by Christian beliefs of heaven and hell, sets the stage for a lessor emphasis on individual achievement as a goal.

    A cursory examination suggests to me that cultures lacking the concept of an afterlife place greater emphasis on measurable material achievement in this life.

    We are not going to change our eductional trajectory by busting teachers' associations, firing teachers, reconstituting schools: using fear tactics.

    But then, some researchers have suggested that this is all a manufactured crisis and that international test scores really may have little, if anything, to do with the economic well-being of a nation.


  15. MathAdvocate

    Rich…
    You asked Concerned Teacher about the study he referred to—look into Project Follow Through. That is the study that came to mind for me.


  16. Concerned Teacher

    I found information on the First-Grade Studies.

    The 4th quarter issue of the Reading Research Quarterly (available in any university library, or even perhaps, online) reprinted some or all in the interest of preserving history. They noted that literacy research does not engage in this practice.

    For an explanation, go to (I hope I type this correctly):
    http://www.reading.org/Publish.aspx?page=RRQ-32-4-Readance.pdf&mode=retrieve&D=10.1598/RRQ.32.4.2&F=RRQ-32-4-Readance.pdf&ke

    Or, "google" "First-Grade Studies"


  17. Concerned Teacher

    Looked again, and found a PDF of the 1997 publication. Poor quality.

    http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED437629.pdf

    Enjoy!


  18. Anonymous

    Thank you Barry, for a very insightful article. Concerning version 2, "they are taught using the reform methods of a 'problem based approach' that doesn't rely on drills, and instills critical thinking and higher order thinking skills," I agree that this has been misconstrued by many in the U.S. Singapore math lessons (and Japanese lessons even more so) are problem based in a couple of ways that are very different from "reform math" curricula in the U.S.: 1) Problems are used to frame the context of the lesson 2) Multiple ways of solving the problem are sought and analyzed, including errors. the most efficient ways are emphasized. 3) As you note, the problems are varied systematically. By "problem," it does not necessarily have to be a word problem. It is common in Japanese classrooms, for example, that the teacher may use the word problem to set up the context of the lesson and then together with the students generate an equation for children to solve, saying something like, "Before we learned divisions like 24/6 where the number divided evenly. Today let's think about how to problems like divide 24 by 5." You can see this more clearly in Japanese textbooks than Singapore textbooks but this approach is evident in Singapore textbooks as well. Drill and practice also play an important role. Unfortunately these have gotten a bad name in the U.S. There are many creative ways to drill and practice. East Asian teachers also use techniques such as differentiation, inquiry learning, etc. but not to the exclusion of what is most important–mathematics. In my recent visit to Singapore, for example, in nearly all of the math lessons I observed, children were working collaboratively. Dr. Yeap Banhar told me that this is very common in order to maximize the limited time they have. He said they work independently after school (i.e. homework). Another important characteristic of math lessons in these countries is that teachers know exactly where they are going with the lesson. They have a goal and you can bet they will get to it. Also, teachers know their math very well. Your readers can see my various articles on mathematics teaching in Singapore and Japan at http://www.thedailyriff.com.


  19. Concerned Teacher

    I assume you (above comment) are Bill Jackson. I visited The Daily Riff and read your article on math. Thank you for this coherent presentation.

    While I continue to believe it IS all about culture, for the culture defines the roles of the teacher and the student, even the standards and teaching materials, etc., I do not argue, nor do I deny, that pedagogy is subject to improvement.

    The culture of excellent education is not present in this country. I believe we do not, and never have, value teachers. The infrastructure to facilitate continuing excellence in teaching is not in place here, nor is the necessary mindset to create it.

    It is clear to many of us that current educational "reforms" will do nothing to change student achievement. Our response to lower than desired scores on the PISA is to undertake cosmetic reforms with no real substance, and to hang the full responsibility for figuring out what and how to change on the backs of individual teachers (value-added scoring). There is no culture of support. In the U.S., because teaching is considered to be a profession that attracts "those who can't" the practice is that we quickly train teachers (Teach for America: 5 weeks), drop them in classrooms, and then threaten them when our test scores don't compete with the best in the world.

    On the other hand, I do not necessarily believe that merely adopting Singapore Math will significantly change our trajectory, either. While it may be a more pedagogically sound program for teaching math, the "culture" that supports excellence in teaching/learning, continual improvement is absent.

    This is the message we must deliver. I suspect if we could change the culture in our schools, the shift toward improved pedagogy would be a natural consequence.


  20. Bill Jackson

    Hi Barry:

    Sorry, I forgot to include my name in the comment. I really appreciate your articles and comments. I'm sure you're familiar with The Teaching Gap, by Stigler and Hiebert. There is a chapter called teaching Is a Cultural Activity that basically confirms what you are saying. here is a link http://51a24ab04446c2d294f27a5616b7459a3e0b18d1.gripelements.com/Documents/BMTL/Research_Base/Teaching_is_a_Cultural_Activity.pdf

    Take Care and happy Holidays!

    Bill


  21. CJ Westerberg

    Barry, glad to see your comment to Bill Jackson's post, "Why Other Countries Do Better in Math" this week on The Daily Riff.
    http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/why-other-countries-do-better-in-math-520.php

    Think there is a great conversation here.
    An excerpt:
    "Many people have suggested that cultural factors are behind the success of East Asian students in mathematics. Although factors such as parental and societal attitudes towards education certainly play a role, I believe that they play a minor one at best. The main reason why these countries are doing so well is the high quality mathematical learning experiences they provide to children."


  22. Barry Garelick

    Bill,

    Thanks. You may also be interested in this paper (link below) by Alan Siegel of the Courant Institute of NYU who analyzes some videos of Japanese classrooms and demonstrates that people see what they want to see in such lessons. I.e., some see discovery and a student-centered class which as the article points out, is not the case. It is located here: http://www.cs.nyu.edu/faculty/siegel/siegel.pdf


  23. edlharris

    "Those kids were last among their counterparts in the rest of the world. That is, if you took the elite track in the French system that was leading to math and science, these [American] kids were at the bottom. "

    Catherine, what was the difference between the top kids and the Americans?
    Is there a breakdown based on race or economic status?


  24. randy glover

    The culture has absolutely nothing to do with ‘don’t try this at home.’ All you have to do is look at a ‘cram school’ full of 70-100 Korean or Japanese motivated kids to realize that there is extremely different cultural pressures on those Confucian societies v. American society. When we can pack a cram school full of hungry math students at 4:30 in the afternoon, then we can compare methodologies in the 2 cultures. So, the ‘what we do v. what they do’ is now a senseless argument.


  25. Pollynkorect

    Chinese schools aren’t cursed with the U.S. Supreme Court, ACLU, multiculturalism, an anti-Chinese ruling elite & hoards of hateful anti-Chinese students that are allowed to disrupt classes and threaten teachers. Chinese schools are HOMOGENEOUS, self-affirming, with common values & a superior gene pool — like America was before WWII & before the Supreme Court destroyed our educational system and our society.


  26. “It isn’t the culture, stupid” | Vollok.com

    [...] by beachs By Barry Garelick   (Originally published December 15, 2010, on EducationNews.com: http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/104502.html Republished on the Betrayed blog with permission from author Barry [...]

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December 15th, 2010

Barry Garelick Contributor EducationNews.org

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