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  1. #1
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    Falling behind and it's sad

    Do you think we're falling behind (North America) in Math and Science?

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorrison/2016/11/29/far-east-strengthens-grip-on-math-science-rankings-u-s-students-slip-further-behind/


    The stats seem to point in that direction. Even video game production is outsourced like a mofo (To South Korea, etc).

    How do you think we can improve on a global level and get back to creating some awesome stuff.

    I've seen some pretty online learning places like StudyPug or Math.com but I think we need a boost on a national level.

    Like the same kind of pride which pushed us to put a man on the moon.

    We need more Wright brothers :(
    Last edited by Thomaswown; 21-03-2017 at 09:40 PM.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    Personally, I don't think it's a case of the UK/US falling behind exactly, it's more of a case of others catching up.

    This is likely to be largely due to developed VS developing economies. I'd imagine that a lot of east asian countries will somewhat stagnate in the results at some point in the future too.

    I don't know these tests well, but I think things like the OECD / PISA tests are highly flawed. They highlight some interesting differences, but the conclusions that the media and politicians draw from them are often (imho) entirely wrong.
    They can also be quite variable, with counties moving up/down a number of places in a very short time, despite nothing actually changing in that period.

    There are lots of issues/causes/factors involved... teaching to the test, society pressure, competition in the job market, etc.. so it's hard to break it down or draw specific conclusions about the actual education factors.

    It's also somewhat debatable how well the results translate into real-world economic benefits.
    Japan, for example, always ranks highly in such tables (up to high school level, not so much for Uni) but that doesn't seem to translate into much benefit in terms of productive workers, innovation, startups, etc...
    Japanese companies don't give a crap what you studied in school/uni - because they're planning to break you down and rebuild you in their image of a company worker...

    The whole Japanese education system is basically a giant competitive entrance exam to get into a good company... who will then ignore everything you learned on the way.

    It's also worth pointing out that government funding levels for Japan are pretty awful, Japanese schools generally are ancient miserable prison-like buildings with demotivated staff and a huge lack of modern equipment.
    Hence japanese parents spending a fortune on private cram schools or private schools.

    While I think there are some things that UK/US schools could learn from Japanese schools, almost none of them are academic. Whatever the rankings say, I'd take most UK/US students over their Japanese counterparts if I wanted to make a dynamic and productive company.

    (That said, there is massive variation between schools in the US and the UK (maybe less recently). What Japan has nailed is basically not leaving anyone behind and getting almost everyone up to a decent level... though that's largely due to massive pressure on both parents and students)

    I focus on the Japan comparison because that's what I know best. Other countries may have similar or totally different factors at play. Korea is pretty similar AFAIK, except even more of a battle-royale boot camp.

    [edit]
    With regard to the Wright Bros... the US still has its Bill Gates, its Steve Jobs (or Woz), its Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page.
    Japan, China, Korea have.... ?

  3. #3
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    I think you got India confused with Japan.

    I go to Japan at least once a year (Kyoto). These guys and their technology is like 50 to 100 years ahead of any Western society on the planet. Demotivated staff? They would rather get sick or die then not do their job properly.

    I hope the rest of the world can take lessons from the Japanese work ethic, personal hygiene and tons of other stuff that these guys are light years ahead of. However, I do agree that when it comes to individuals making a difference, we are still leading the pack by miles.

    The reason for that is not education though, it's a more free society. Most Japanese are conservative in that sense but it's obviously working for them and in turn, for the rest of us.

  4. #4
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    I hope the rest of the world can take lessons from the Japanese work ethic (...) of other stuff that these guys are light years ahead of.
    I find my 40 hours per week without having to do any overtime superior.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    They would rather get sick or die then not do their job properly.


    I'm very suspicious thats actually the case and more that they have to appear that way to customers and managers or they will be penalized heavily. Yep thats not a kind of culture I would like to be in. If thats what it takes to be the best I think I 'd like to stay average thank you very much.

  6. #6
    Moderator Grizzly's Avatar
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    I'd like to point out that Germany is also a thing.

  7. #7
    Lesser Hivemind Node LordShadoko's Avatar
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    Doesn't Japan have one of the highest suicide rates of the world ? Same for South Corea (children included) ?
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  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomaswown View Post
    They would rather get sick or die then not do their job properly.
    Yeah, I don't see how this is a virtue or ideal at all. Japan isn't even all that productive compared to a lot of western nations.
    Last edited by Skalpadda; 21-03-2017 at 03:54 PM.

  9. #9
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    I used to teach in Asia. The international school (21 different nationalities, taught 90% of subjects in English) I worked in used Singaporean textbooks for maths. When I came back to the UK and worked in a British school, I found that a large chunk of what was in the GCSE maths paper I saw could be completed by my 4th graders. Yeah I'd say we're falling behind.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus EPICTHEFAIL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skalpadda View Post
    Yeah, I don't see how this is a virtue or ideal at all. Japan isn't even all that productive compared to a lot of western nations.
    Seriously, that's some creepy shit right there. It basically amounts to culturally ingrained slavery, with a thin veneer of "well, at least you get paid to do it" applied to make it look acceptable - if they see nothing wrong with literally working yourself to death, I can't imagine what the attitudes to, say, quitting your job because you're not satisfied with it would be. Besides, "our guys work eleventy million hours a week" is just childish knob-waving, pushing people way over the nominal 40-50-odd hours a week and sacrificing employee satisfaction for the sake of "productivity" just gets you shit products, suicidal employees and a whole lot of unsustainable diminishing returns. It's what backward Communist dictatorships do (see also, the USSR's idea of an udarnik), seeing it in a modern, ostensibly progressive technologically accomplished nation just makes me shake my head.
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  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus L_No's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordShadoko View Post
    Doesn't Japan have one of the highest suicide rates of the world ? Same for South Corea (children included) ?
    This is true. Main cause is the huge pressure placed on people by a society that adheres more value to an individual fulfilling his assigned role than to the happiness of said individual. Like others in this thread have said, Japanese and South Korean workers work an ungodly amount of hours more than people from other countries, but aren't as productive despite spending way more time at work.
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  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    There has been even a lot of studies that say we are more productive the less time we work. In fact I believe there is a concept of the golden 4 hours where we are most productive for 4 hours in a day and everything else will not be.

    https://www.theguardian.com/sustaina...u-negotiations

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomaswown View Post
    I think you got India confused with Japan.

    I go to Japan at least once a year (Kyoto). These guys and their technology is like 50 to 100 years ahead of any Western society on the planet. Demotivated staff? They would rather get sick or die then not do their job properly.

    I hope the rest of the world can take lessons from the Japanese work ethic, personal hygiene and tons of other stuff that these guys are light years ahead of. However, I do agree that when it comes to individuals making a difference, we are still leading the pack by miles.

    The reason for that is not education though, it's a more free society. Most Japanese are conservative in that sense but it's obviously working for them and in turn, for the rest of us.
    Sorry, but none of this is accurate. Japan is more like 50 (well, at least 10) years behind when it comes to technology, and their work ethic, office culture, productivity, etc.. are certainly nothing to envy.

    One reason for the free society difference is that it's hammered into Japanese kids that they shouldn't be individuals, shouldn't innovate, shouldn't stand out from the crowd. That's one of the reasons that Japan produces almost zero entrepreneurs these days and hence very little innovation.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EPICTHEFAIL View Post
    Seriously, that's some creepy shit right there. It basically amounts to culturally ingrained slavery, with a thin veneer of "well, at least you get paid to do it" applied to make it look acceptable - if they see nothing wrong with literally working yourself to death, I can't imagine what the attitudes to, say, quitting your job because you're not satisfied with it would be. Besides, "our guys work eleventy million hours a week" is just childish knob-waving, pushing people way over the nominal 40-50-odd hours a week and sacrificing employee satisfaction for the sake of "productivity" just gets you shit products, suicidal employees and a whole lot of unsustainable diminishing returns. It's what backward Communist dictatorships do (see also, the USSR's idea of an udarnik), seeing it in a modern, ostensibly progressive technologically accomplished nation just makes me shake my head.
    Productivity is a specific measure in this context. It's the amount of profit per worker effectively. E.g. useful work done. You can have lots of workers all employed working over time but if they don't make anything profitable it's not productive. I assume Skalpadda was referring to that sense of productivity. Which is a fairly accurate description of the Japanese economy for a while, most the Japanese giants have suffered badly from China and Korea taking their work and haven't been good at innovating new markets to work with.

    I used to work for a Japanese company and a serious part of the company man culture was that incredibly incompetent managers were never fired. One guy was just given an office with no computer and expected to deal with the dishonour until he quit, but they would not fire him because that would be bad behaviour by the Company.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    Productivity is a specific measure in this context. It's the amount of profit per worker effectively. E.g. useful work done. You can have lots of workers all employed working over time but if they don't make anything profitable it's not productive. I assume Skalpadda was referring to that sense of productivity.
    You can use looser definitions as well. The OP speaks about maths and science but I've seen no evidence at all that Japanese science and engineering is any better than what goes on in other parts of the world, no matter how good they are at solving equations in 4th grade.

    I think if we're looking for ideals in education Finland fits a lot better, getting very good results while not going for the conveyorbelt-fact-drilling model of education and having a Nordic labour market that doesn't expect employees to always put work ahead of everything else in their lives.

  16. #16
    Lesser Hivemind Node LordShadoko's Avatar
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    I've seen no evidence at all that Japanese science and engineering is any better than what goes on in other parts of the world
    If I had to make a guess, I'd say it's a mix of old stereotypes from the 80s-90s - when lots of new high-tech things had a japanese name - and even older stereotypes about japanese culture. Now, there is still that image of high-tech everywhere and to a certain extent Japan is indeed very advanced in certain fields like robotics, but I wouldn't say it's the most innovative part of the world, nor that it's 50 years ahead of us. Besides - but it's a bit off-topic - technological advancment also depends on the needs. When your population is becoming older and older, with a very small birth rate, there is no wonder you'd like to invest in robotics.

    I think if we're looking for ideals in education Finland fits a lot better, getting very good results while not going for the conveyorbelt-fact-drilling model of education and having a Nordic labour market that doesn't expect employees to always put work ahead of everything else in their lives.
    I tend to agree with that. It always annoys me when people bring up exemples like South Korea - okay, they are among the best educated countries, but if it means that children have to work 11 hours a day, go to a private school after school just to remotely have a chance of maybe passing the most prestigious exams, and that my country has one of the highest suicide rates of children in the world, then thank you, but I think I'll pass.
    Last edited by LordShadoko; 23-03-2017 at 02:20 PM.
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  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Also the creative stuff isn't just important for innovation (which is such a fucking annoying buzzword) it's important for a whole set of design and engineering issues. Japanese websites were just appalling when I worked in video games, same for some of the game UIs, they worked and were quite efficient at times. But they tended to look like they were done by engineers like me. Take the PS3 user interface which is a pile of shit, for the PS4 they got the design team in California to design the UI and it's waaaaay nicer.

    There's also a massive hardware bias. We almost never get interesting programming innovation coming from Japan. It's mostly big US companies or Europe that do that. Though that's probably because the driving force behind all that for the last 15-20 years is the internet (OSs, video games still in plain old C) which isn't such a big deal in Japan weirdly. People still prefer hardware blu-ray or PS4 discs over downloadable content like Netflix and Steam.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus L_No's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordShadoko View Post
    If I had to make a guess, I'd say it's a mix of old stereotypes from the 80s-90s - when lots of new high-tech things had a japanese name - and even older stereotypes about japanese culture. Now, there is still that image of high-tech everywhere and to a certain extent Japan is indeed very advanced in certain fields like robotics, but I wouldn't say it's the most innovative part of the world, nor that it's 50 years ahead of us. Besides - but it's a bit off-topic - technological advancment also depends on the needs. When your population is becoming older and older, with a very small birth rate, there is no wonder you'd like to invest in robotics.
    When I was in Japan I was surprised by how old fashioned some things seemed - like almost everyone paying with cash instead of cards, and how flip phones were still a thing.
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    You need last places to have first places. Earth should work on getting smarter together.

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