Math Skills Suffer in U.S., Study Finds

On Friday, the New York Times reported on the American Mathematical Society released study of “Cross-Cultural Analysis of Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving” which was to investigate any differences, if any, between gender (or other demographic factors) and mathematical skills. One not surprising fact that arose, according to the Times article, was that American society does not value mathematics (and I would argue, intellectualism). Professor Janet E. Mertz of the University of Wisconsin is quoted saying:

“Kids in high school, where social interactions are really important, think, ‘If I’m not an Asian or a nerd, I’d better not be on the math team.’ Kids are self selecting. For social reasons they’re not even trying…”

The article also points out that the first American girl to compete on the USA Mathematical Olympiad team was in 1998, and that “Thirteen girls from the United States have competed in the last two years, according to the study, and all are of Asian descent except one…”

I’m not pointing out anything new that Asians and Asian Americans are stereotypical characterized as being nerds or good at math, but it seems like this stereotype is being reinforced more and more, rather than
less and less – especially given some recent studies disproving this “model minority” myth.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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