It is no secret that the math skills in the United States have fallen
significantly behind the skill level of the rest of the world. This
is a sincere shame as much of the American educational tradition has
been one of many great achievements in mathematical fields.
The United States is currently the world's only superpower and that
is due in large part to the nation's economic skills. These skills,
however, are not based on luck. They are founded in a long tradition
of stressing education as a strong education provides the wheels that
keep the government and the nation's free market private sector moving.
Leaders have always recognized this and this is why the government
stressed educational scholarship.
In the 1950s, the United States was not the only superpower as it
shared this status with the USSR. When the USSR first launched the
space satellite Sputnik into orbit there was a bit of embarrassment
felt in the USA that the nation's competitor beat the USA to become
the first into space. A realization was made that the key to keeping
up with the USSR would be found in increasing the skill level of America's
students in math and science. A great deal of resources was put into
boosting skills in these areas and the USA eventually eclipsed the
USSR in the space race and other scientific fields.
One would think that such a proven formula for success would have
forever instilled in the world that its future always lies in its
student's math skills. Sadly, many students skills have declined greatly
and now the math skills in the USA pale in comparison to those in
other parts of the world. This could prove quite disastrous as solid
match skills are critical for a future in an economy that is becoming
more and more high tech.
As of right now, America's junior high school students are currently
ranked around 27th in the world in terms of math scores. This is simply
far too low of a number for a nation the size of the United States
and a nation that is filled with so many gifted young people. Yet,
children in Europe and Asia have pulled ahead of American scores significantly
despite having fewer resources at their disposal. What makes this
even more perplexing is the fact that the United States spends far
more money on its educational system than other countries. Granted,
you can not spend a student into performing well or studying. You
can only lay the foundation for learning and help coach the student's
performance. But, in the face of such declining scores it would not
hurt to examine whether or not the teaching module is right or wrong.
So why is there such a disproportion found in math skill levels?
One of the reasons for the higher scores in Asia and Europe is the
fact that the actual number of hours spent on math and academic subjects
is much higher than the United States. In the United States, the time
required for match courses is often cut back to fit in other subject
matter that has become part of the educational curriculum. This is
neither good nor bad. It simply is.
If there were any parting words that could be provided it would be
that America's math skill average is a collective average of individuals.
That is to say, the individual can always rise above the average if
that person is willing to put the proper time and effort into developing
the skills. Who knows? Perhaps if enough students take this initiative
then the average of those scores may end up going back to their prior
glory days after all!