Originally Posted by HaHa
What is more relevanmt to my thesis is that in our quality US universities, more Phds in science and math are earned by non-US students; and in various international comparisons of primary and secondary school achievement, US students are near the bottom of the industirialized world.
Enougth for me*
I hear you, and I don't disagree.
But my kid takes Kumon math in addition to middle school. In Kumon you get the assignment, you work through the problem, you get the answer, and you move on. You have to be able to plug through a certain number of problems in a certain amount of time at a specified degree of accuracy to move to the next level. (It's like a video game with a monthly subscription fee.) Once you learn how to do the problems, it's pretty much rote repetition of 40 or 50 examples.
She's much more frustrated by middle school because the teachers don't just expect her to plug through the problem-- they expect her to explain how it works, in her own words, frequently in a written essay. She can do probability calculations for hours but she has a hard time explaining whether or not to draw to an inside straight. And despite hours of my patient tutoring she still hesitates to double down on a soft 17 when the blackjack dealer is weak.
Most of those international comparisons are based on multiple-choice exams, although a very few are starting to include "show your work" and "write an essay". So I think that the exams are very good at measuring rote learning, and not so good at measuring comprehension & creativity. It's also unfortunate that the big colleges still put way too much emphasis on SAT/ACT scores, although the students are rapidly learning to game the system.
I'd like to know how America's visa system affects a foreign student's education vs employment decision. It may be easier to stay in school on a student visa (and thus end up plugging away through PhD) than it would be to get an H-1 employee visa with an American company. Or maybe a PhD is the reason a foreign student comes to America in the first place, and returning home without it would mean major shame. Meanwhile the American undergraduates are being encouraged to get that bachelor's and then get out to the real world for some real experience before going back for that MBA. I'm not saying that's the reason for more foreign PhDs, but I think it bears studying.
has it right-- give me a small college, maybe even a liberal-arts one, every time.