East Asian students top in math, science, reading: studies

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  • -4

    basroil

    “At the eighth grade, clearly the East Asian countries ... are pulling away from the rest of the world by a considerable margin,” the report said in its executive summary.

    And by 12th grade, they are far behind. Especially true of Japan's "no child left ahead" policy of making everyone equally stupid. They learn practically zero international history, they get stuck at rudimentary algebra, and most people can't differentiate between a cation and a cataract.

    Sure their averages may be statistically higher, but then again average individuals do average jobs that mean nothing to a country or the international community.

  • 0

    alliswellinjapan

    At least Japan is showing some recovery from the infamous era of the yutori kyoiku. Hope the upward trend continues.

  • -4

    smithinjapan

    Agree with alliswellinjapan... while this ultimately doesn't mean a lot, and we are only talking about Elementary School students when it comes down to it, at least Japan seems to be edging its way back up in a couple of subjects.

    As for other subjects, like subjects where they have to voice an opinion or what have you, how do they rank there?

  • 0

    TheXyco

    Meanwhile, none of those students in Japan can speak a word of English -- and only seldom have any access to the non-Japanese world.

  • -5

    jeff198527

    Xyco, why is it important for foreigners to learn English? The Western world is on its way out. Wouldn't it make more sense for English speakers to learn an Asian language?

  • 2

    lucabrasi

    @jeff

    ...why is it important for foreigners to learn English? The Western world is on its way out. Wouldn't it make more sense for English speakers to learn an Asian language?

    For better or worse, English is now the language of global communication. A French company will communicate with a German company in English, despite German being the number one language in Europe. A Vietnamese professor will communicate with a Japanese professor in English, despite the fact that Chinese is number one in the world.

    English doesn't belong to us native speakers any more. It's too big for that.

  • -3

    jeff198527

    Yeah, and America isn't even in the top 20 in education. Say all you want smithinjapan, but Asia is leading the world, not Europe nor North America.

  • -1

    ka_chan

    If you read the report, Japan's average performance seems to have been slipping since they started the research. In math, the average hit a high in 1995 and declined into 2003 where it's been flat ever since. Korea start with the same number in 1995 but improved every year until now they have an A performance compared to Japan's B. Some things I couldn't believe as half of Japanese 4th graders could not identify the parts of a flower. With all the symbol of Japan involving flowers, how could they get it wrong?
    Most of the countries and areas that were at the top, girls did just as well or better than boys. In math, the girls in Japan are falling further behind but the boys are down too. Probably some of the fault is the end of Saturday school since in Math there was a decline between 1995 and 2003 that has never been made up. In Science, it's back to 1995 levels. But there is a good gap between Japan and it's neighbors that weren't there in 1995.

  • -1

    ka_chan

    An interesting note, Korea decided to end the Saturday day, again the protest of Korean mothers. In 4 years with next set of tests, we shall see if the same fate fall on Korea that fell on Japan.

  • -3

    basroil

    jeff198527Dec. 12, 2012 - 10:31AM JST

    why is it important for foreigners to learn English? The Western world is on its way out. Wouldn't it make more sense for English speakers to learn an Asian language?

    You do realize that almost all the important papers on everything from bio-medicine to astrophysics are available in at least English (and perhaps the native language of the author). All business transactions are also now done in English, and medicine and engineering have gone to English as well (formally french and German).

    jeff198527Dec. 12, 2012 - 10:38AM JST

    Yeah, and America isn't even in the top 20 in education. Say all you want smithinjapan, but Asia is leading the world, not Europe nor North America.

    If you check college rankings though, USA is by far the top scorer in terms of top tier schools. Averages don't mean much because the average human is dumb as dirt. What countries need to get ahead in science and technology (and even economy) is the best of the best, the rest of the people take the bad jobs that trained monkeys can do. Middle school kids here might be better than the average kid elsewhere, but the elites here sure don't hold a candle to the elites here, it's simply not possible because of the education system.

    In the USA, the best and brightest can learn up to about linear algebra (for larger schools, halfway advanced calculus in smaller ones) and dynamics (again, larger schools, perhaps some sort of physics 101 level at smaller schools) IN SCHOOL, while in Japan they must go to a juku to even get anything entertaining, let alone difficult, since most districts end math education at algebra and trig. Hammering the nails improves the averages, but destroys the top end as well.

  • 1

    Ms. Alexander

    I think juku is what makes Japanese kids excel in math. If there were no jukus, I wonder how they'd place...

  • 0

    CoffeeHulk

    They're great at test taking, but their ability to take that knowledge and apply it in a creative, constructive way is somewhat lacking. Take for example, English. Many people here do have a large vocabulary but are unable to apply that and actually speak the language. I see many many students sleep their way through school only to study when it comes test time. They're not actually learning the subjects, they're just learning how to pass. Unfortunately this style of teaching is starting to spread in the US. Thanks No Child Left Behind!

  • 1

    Eve Aphayboun

    @ basroil

    You are absolutely right. English is, the language of business, global business. And it would appear, Japan still does not really grasp that concept very well. Whether it's due to the educational system or society, they need to understand and really take on the English language.

    @ Ms. Alexander

    Very excellent point. Where would they be without jukus...? I'd speculate theyd place a bit lower. Same with the other Asian countries. Obviously there are private schools and tutors here in North America as well, but definitely not as prevalent as in Asia.

  • -1

    lambda

    Reading the comments, there seem to be a couple of things that need clarifying.

    1. The nail that sticks out, gets hammered down. Many commentators have argued that it's not the average student that we should be placing on our bets on, but the top performers. Aside from the social issues this approach entails, the PISA study has shown that the countries that have the most uniform educational systems also produce most top performers.

    2. What does being a top performer at school mean? I would argue not much. Even Einstein is said to have been an average student at best during his early education. What the schools are measuring might not be the stuff that really is important. Even if the grades were to correlate with say, IQ, it's been shown in several studies (and in popular literature argued in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers) that above a certain threshold, IQ doesn't mean much in terms of success. If schools don't concentrate on this other stuff, largely social education that is difficult to quantify, much potential is lost down the drain.

  • -6

    basroil

    lambdaDec. 12, 2012 - 04:37PM JST

    The nail that sticks out, gets hammered down. Many commentators have argued that it's not the average student that we should be placing on our bets on, but the top performers. , the PISA study has shown that the countries that have the most uniform educational systems also produce most top performers.

    Japan is a very manufacturing oriented country. As such, it needs many specialists, and practically nobody needs to be ok at everything. The vocational school system here is very lacking, and those that go into vocational schools are often ridiculed or at least made out to be different in a not great way. The current Japanese educational system confines everyone to be equal, and thus talent is stamped out.

    Lets also not forget that PISA studies are done on 15 year olds, which certainly fit the comments above. All the comments are practically the same, good education until middle school, then horrible highschool education and not much improvement in college.

    Aside from the social issues this approach entails

    What "social issues"? The typical idea brought up in those terms is that you create inequalities based on schooling ability. Those in bad areas have less chance to excel, etc. However, people regularly ignore the plight of the gifted. Why should brilliant students be forced back, discriminated against, simply because their "peers" are incapable? Equality is an ideal that is impossible to achieve because people are inherently not equal, trying will only frustrate the incapable and waste the potential of the talented.

    What does being a top performer at school mean? I would argue not much.

    Yes, certainly not much, but that also depends on where you are and what you do with the potential. In Japan, people have stopped applying their potential and accepted mediocrity, except for those who live to excel in academics. They tend to do well in tests like PISA ones, but after having seen plenty of "top" college students, I can tell you a tiny portion is anywhere near as capable as even lower-upper portion of college students in the USA.

  • 0

    jeff198527

    If Asian education is so bad then why do the Western economies the ones having riots and protests. Why is it the West that depends almost entirely on Asian-made goods to survive? Top tier colleges in America? Which ones? Yale, the one "Dubya" went to?

  • 0

    jeff198527

    All the excuses being made here are why North America and Europe are failing. You can scream that the West is better educated all you want while your infrastructure collapses, your people riot, and your social programs implode, but that doesn't make it true.

  • -1

    volland

    @basroil You are of course correct, but you missed the fact that they are talking about maths and science. Those are subjects that are simply to grasp by maximising effort and learning time , and useful for computer jobs. It also says: “….Hong Kong and Singapore among the top performing countries in fourth-grade reading comprehension.” Both of those have English as an official language, whereas Japanese children when they enter school, instead of learning how to learn, as in western states, have to waste years of their lives learning kanji after kanji…. This has the useful effect, useful for the state, that learning things by heart and being anle to repeat them like a parrot instead of actual thinking, is taken by the populace as education. The west may be on its way out, but most those parts of the world that still count, use english as their common language. If you ask 8th to 12th graders about the great literature of the world, they know basically nothing. This is the sad state that Japanese politicians have absolutely no interest at all in changing. Which is the actual real problem and explains so much about the way Japan functions….

  • -1

    basroil

    vollandDec. 13, 2012 - 06:29AM JST

    You are of course correct, but you missed the fact that they are talking about maths and science. Those are subjects that are simply to grasp by maximising effort and learning time

    Math and science are not simple to grasp simply though hard work. Sure multiplication and even geometry are easy enough if you study the easy but ridiculously time consuming methods, but because real math (calculus and above) is not understandable by all (some people just cannot grasp the concept of infinity or infinitesimally small), they refuse to teach it in Japanese schools. As such, by the time they graduate, the students know LESS than their peers elsewhere even if they were "more advanced" in 8th grade as this article states.

    Unless the study is done on 18 year olds, as a random sample of the population and not just those that remained in school, you can't actually see any reasonable comparisons that actually make sense. After all, it is exceedingly rare that even an advanced 8th grader knows as much as an average high-school graduate, and rarer yet for them to actually know enough to do well in life. The only reason for this 8th grade choice is that it is the cutoff for mandatory schooling in most countries, especially asia. It has nothing to do with the actual education level of the country, only the education level of children that aren't even educated enough to understand their world.

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