Comments about ‘Mary McConnell: Tiger mothers and Lake Wobegon kids: is it time to 'Shanghai' our math students?’

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Published: Saturday, Jan. 15 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

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Logan, UT

John Adams said, "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, . . . in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry. . . ." Do we work to live or live to work. If only the best is worthwhile then almost all of us are not worthwhile.

Kaysville, UT

Amy Chua now has thousands and thousands of people eating out of the palm of her hand.


Write a really controversial article that hedges on slamming a large group of people, and...

...then you sell a TON of books! :)

What a smartie! Must be because she's Asian.

plano, tx

If it works use it if it doesn't find something that does.

Salt Lake City, UT

You never hear our asian-americans calling for reparations or creating bogus organizations like NAAAP or characters like Obama/Sharpton or begging for welfare......they just flat out WORK!

Salt Lake City, UT

I want to see one of those Singaporean textbooks. It can't be so bad, granted I went to one of the highest scoring schools in one of the highest scoring counties (Frederick) of one of the highest scoring states (Maryland). So I doubt that... ah crap, one of the articles linked here explains how the Singapore textbooks put the county next to mine in over their heads. That's not good...

A Guy With A Brain
Enid, OK

What's more important, having your kid get an A but destroying them in the process?, or nurturing them (which ALSO includes pushing them at times) where their spirit grows but they get a B?

I'll take the B.

A's, and the opportunities that come with them are nice, but if a child is damaged in the process, where they think they are ONLY good and worthwhile if they "get an A" (or some other worldly measuring stick), what good have you really done as a parent?

Balance is what is needed.

BTW, my 2 oldest kids (a senior and a sophomore in high school) both have over 4.0 GPAs.

Alpine, Utah

While I do not believe that we need to belittle or threaten (well, maybe threaten a little) our children, I DO believe that there needs to be a large increase in effort and accountability. We talk and talk about how to improve education, but when the rubber meets the road it comes down to what each individual is willing to do to gain that education. I believe that our children would fair just fine, self-esteem and all, if they learned that they CAN do hard things, do them well, and to be accountable for their learning. If that means less tv or video game time, that is just a double bonus.

And why do we so often talk about math in a derogatory way? Math is a wonderful and amazing science, and is great fun for those who have the right attitude. We as parents need to be careful about passing on a positive math attitude to our kids. Open your ears and start to listen to all the negative comments that are made in regards to math. You will be surprised how prevalent they are.

A Guy With A Brain
Enid, OK

I'm a dad of 4 kids, husband to a perpetual PTA volunteer, and a constant observer of our federal government.

Want to help our kids excel in school?

1 - Get rid of the Department of Education. All of it. We don't need it. They damage virtually everything they touch, anyway.

2 - FIRE worthless, underperforming teachers! did you know that the state of New York has rooms (I think they are referred to as "rubber rooms"?) where bad teachers go, the ones who are no longer trusted in a classroom with students, and sit and watch TV or play cards all day, and get PAID for it, because the school districts have such a difficult time firing bad teachers? FIRE THEM!

3 - Get rid of teacher unions. See #2 above.

4 - Challenge the kids in school. They'll rise, or sink, to what you expect of them. Give them more homework. It would do them good to have less time to sit in front of the TV.

5 - Parents need to get involved. Know what classes your kids are taking, know their teachers, know how they're doing in each class, help them with their homework.

Bountiful, UT

This lady may view her way as superior, because she is so likely to raise a child prodigy, however she is also unlikely to raise a child who is likely to become an expert in some field as an adult and thus push the frontier of knowledge.

Reason for this is she pushed too hard and thus burns her kids out at a young age, when they get older they will shun the work and dedication necessary to produce excellence at a higher level.

That said, it is possible to offer a child an excellent education and at the same time allow a child adequate unstructured and free time, which is a necessary component to help develop creativity and a love of learning and knowledge.

In America our schools are inferior because the quality of the material, especially in math is only so so. In China their education is inferior because they push their students too hard.

Students raised the Chinese way are quite likely to understand Relativity at a very deep level if they end up studying physics, but they unlikely to discover relativity or anything else as significant.

Saratoga Springs, UT

How do you get above 4.0?

we do singapore in our homeschool starting in 7th grade. definitely challenging but pushes kids to really understand mathematical concepts.

when i first read the new york times article i was motivated to "toughen up", but i agree there must be balance. we have to ask ourselves what success means to us.

lehi, ut

A major problem is that Teachers don't spend enough time helping students understand the real life benefits of math. They spend the majority of the time sticking to a rigid curriculum and students have difficulty understanding the significance. Teachers need to dedicate significant time teaching about different career paths and how math is applicable to those specific paths.

durwood kirby
South Jordan, UT

Guy with a Brain: This is a math discussion. How does one get above a 4.0 GPA? Must be on a scale of 10.0.

We hear about how the teacher unions are ruining education, that we have lousy teachers, blaa, blaa, blaa.

Ever tried to teach math to 30-40 kids at once? Perhaps a more significant investment in our kids would make it more likely that math teachers (or any teachers) could actually teach with an occasional chance at real interaction.

But as long as our state brags about how "well-managed" our fiscal situation is, and funds education at the lowest in the nation, you won't see much progress.

Salt Lake City, UT

At my school in Maryland honors and AP classes (stuff like that) had a weighted GPA of 5.0. So we had both weighted (out of 4.0 for all classes) and unweighted GPA's (where the harder ones are out of 5). It helps distinguish who has been taking harder classes rather than a bunch of strength training classes for athletes.

Salt Lake City, UT

I wish I could edit... anyway in my previous post flip weighted and unweighted around.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

From having observed some math teaching in an inner-city school in the United States I would say that some American math teachers teach relentlesslty to the test. The school district in question also ranks very low in all test scores. Teaching to the test is often counter-productive.

If students know math, they will do well on tests. If they know how to try and figure the thought process of the test, this is less certain.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

In my high school besides having weighted classes where one could get a 5.0 (actually even higher, see below) we had A+s. Since all As is 4.0, A+s are by definition above 4.0, so if you have say 3 As and 3 A+s you will be above a 4.0.

Arguably this is an example of grade inflation, which is also arguably one of the problems we have in our education system.

Osawatomie, KS

Saying there is only 1 way to parent, is like saying there is only 1 way to solve a math problem.

Neither are true.

What both America and China need--is to quit looking for the "easy" answer--the miracle "pill" that will "fix" all children, make all children prodigies (which really--you can't do--kids either come with (to the planet) it or they don't. Believe me!), and fix all education problems.

What is possible is not a miracle cure. What IS possible is working at it every day--over and over--trying constantly to do better.

THIS is what students need to learn in order to succeed.

I've known plenty of people who could recite an answer to any math problem you gave them--but couldn't figure out how to pay their bills on time.

I've worked with students from China--who for the FIRST time in their lives, as graduate students in America--they were given the FREEDOM to choose at least SOME of their classes.

So--you have a choice--continue to desire success that is forced and dictatorial--

Or live with the risk that FREEDOM permits.

Alpine, UT

I'm not sure what the answer is here, but this is my experience. A few years ago, I was a math tutor here in a fairly affluent neighborhood. Tutored 5th through high school kids who were doing very poorly in math. Soon after I helped them master the basic multiplication facts, I would lose my job. Not because parents weren't happy with me. Because once they had these down, the kids were able to pay attention to the concepts being taught by their teachers and no longer needed extra help. It's really hard to listen if you're trying to figure out if 6x8 is 38... or 44... or is it 48??

Kearns, UT

This teacher and her article and insight are well beyond her years for most her age. Math is the backbone of living.

The one reader is right, get rid of the BOE and block the UEA, NEA, and PTA from all access to education policy and funding. And that's just the beginning.

These groups and organizations have put road blocks in the path of parents participation of their childrens education. Business and government is in charge and parents are a nuisance. Education has become a process to puppetize the population. And why are teachers allowed to stalk and monitor students in public?

The passive attitude of parents that assume a child wants to learn is wrong, they want to play. Parents must be in charge of a family, not the children and their friends complaining about why Bobbie can't come out to play. If a child is not forced to learn then they won't learn.

Parents from the X-gen (80's and later) are the first victims of technology based education attempts, it failed them too. This generation is clearly not in charge of their lives and rely too heavily for government directions.

Aurora, CO

Chinese moms are also better looking too.

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