I teach all Asian kids, and they tell me that the math curriculum in British Columbia is a joke compared to the math curriculum in Japan, Honk Kong, or Taiwan. Perhaps the students from Asia do so well, because North American math standards are much lower than in Asia. One of our teachers who did all his school in Taiwan said that grade 12 math in Taiwan is equivalent to first or second year university calculus here in Canada.
Michael Greene wrote:
> On Fri, 26 May 2000 02:40:18 GMT, "Bruce M. Ikenaga" > <email@example.com> wrote: > Interesting post. > > Harold Stevenson at U. of Michigan published some work in > 86 and in 92. His sample of several hundred students, showed > a general trend of all kindergartners starting out pretty > much the same. By 5th grade, there was a significant > disparity in accomplishment and by 11th grade, the disparity > had grown to a chasm. Plotting the two performance curves > side by side showed that the top American 11th grade > quartile failed to beat the bottom Japanese quartile. > > Granting your point that Japan and Taiwan let kids drop at > 16 doesn't explain why the remaining Japanese population > barely overlapped the American population. Presumably the > top American kids should at least be going head to head with > the best Japanese children. > > The 11th grade gap was so large that Stevenson quite > naturally asked if Asian children were smarter. In 92, he > repeated his 86 study and added an IQ component. That test > showed no innate difference between the three populations. > > If you're interested in the original papers, I can send you > the citations. > > Vis-a-vis tracking, I believe Don Blasingame is correct in > saying the Japanese run a heterogenous classroom. > > > We should always try to do better, and if these kinds of > >comparisons encourage us to try harder, that's fine. > > > > I asked a couple of colleagues --- one educated in Japan, > >the other educated in China --- about the success high-school > >kids in their countries had in learning math. They told me > >several things which show that one should be careful in > >making comparisons. > > > > First, high school is apparently not mandatory, at least > >not through age 18, as is common in the U.S. I think the age > >is 16 in Japan, and there may not be a requirement for > >high school in the PRC. > > > > It sounds from my colleagues' descriptions as though there > >is much stronger tracking by ability, and done much earlier, > >than we have here. I asked my colleague from Japan what kids > >who drop out before age 16 might do. He replied that they > >might become laborers --- but also, they might apprentice as > >chefs, or (he said with a straight face) as stand-up comics! > > > > High school admissions also seems to be competitive, based > >on regional examinations. Not everyone *can* go. > > > > I gather from my Chinese colleague's comments that the > >percentage of kids in the PRC who complete high school is > >rather low --- he said around 60% in urban areas, less in > >rural areas. > > > > Both agreed that there were *plenty* of kids who couldn't > >do math. They wouldn't show up in tests of high school kids, > >because they'd never make it to high school. In other words, > >those educational systems aren't universally successful as > >far as math goes. The tests may make them *seem* successful, > >because they are testing only the successful students. > > > > (I gleaned these observations from informal conversation, > >and it's possible that I misunderstood something --- so if > >someone else knows more about the educational systems in > >those countries, feel free to correct me.) > > > > It's not much fun to try to teach people who don't want > >to learn. On the other hand, I'm glad that we *don't* give > >up on kids too quickly. The point is not simply to raise > >test scores, after all --- it is to do whatever works best > >for the society as a whole. > > > > > >----- > >Bruce Ikenaga firstname.lastname@example.org > >Dept. of Math, P.O. Box 1002, ::::::::::::::::::: > >Millersville University, > >Millersville, PA 17551-0302