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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 07:32AM

I've worked widely over America in various science and technology fields. Most of the Americans that I see area are around fifty and older. All of the younger people in the twenty to forty age range are from India, China, or Europe with only a few Americans. The only exception to this is in the defence arena which requires US citizens for security reasons.

Why is this? Why is America so far behind in science and maths education?

This is a complex issue but religion is a major factor:

"The research, published today in the academic journal Intelligence, reveals that more religious countries had lower educational performance in science and mathematics. The study also shows that levels of national development and time spent on religious education played a role in students’ attainment."

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2017 07:40AM by anybody.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 07:50AM

WOW. This isn't on topic and isn't The United States a country of immigrants?

Where is religion's doomsday here? Is The US going to decline to some religious backwater?

I work with people who are very religious from the places you mentioned. What does that mean?

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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 08:10AM

Nothing wrong with immigration. It just seems that fewer and fewer American students are entering scientific and techological fields. America lags far behind other Western industrialised countries in science and mathematics education.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 01:16PM

Because religion? That is myopic in my opinion.

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Posted by: thingsithink ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 11:57PM

Ask all the Mormon women you know if their religious believes affected their educational pursuits.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 07:57AM

All of them?

I think the culture at large would be more apt to be evoked here.

Religious beliefs in Utah and other predominately religious places probably discourage some things but math and science for women?

I don't think so. I think society and a personal preference for them play a bigger part.

It is simplistic to look for simple cause an effect in this case.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 08:11AM

It isn't an obsession with religion that's hurting America's schooling.

Try lack of parental oversight, and too much time spent on video games instead of books.

Children used to play outdoors when I was a kid. Today especially in cities, they're a lot of latch key children with both parents who have to work. Or from single parent homes.

Teachers complain that kids are poorly prepared to learn once they reach the classroom. With discipline problems, teachers have more on their hands and time than teaching what they were hired for. They end up being surrogate parents to some of their students, and enforcers to others.

The US still attracts the best and brightest from around the world. There are many in this country who compete for some of the same spots the international community vies for. Many of our future doctors have to go offshore to get their medical license, before coming home to practice medicine. The competition is keen on getting into any MD program.

Sciences and math will favor American university students who wish to pursue doctorates, if they qualify for the rigorous programs. They receive stipends and scholarships for those fields. But yeah, many of our top talent still are first generation immigrants to this country. Glad it's still working!

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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 08:59AM

If your parents and community are telling you that the Earth is only six thousand years old, evolution isn't real and climate change is fake -- and the world at large is telling you the opposite -- that just confuses kids and turns them off to science and math.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 09:00AM

I was going to add many of those first generation immigrants come from deeply religious backgrounds and upbringing.

That in and of itself is not a deterrent to getting a quality education in this country or abroad.

ETA: I didn't get the kind of education you infer growing up in the Morridor. We studied evolution, and science in school. Our teachers as my parents encouraged our natural curiosity to learn and grow.

The kids who did the best in school were the ones from the most stable of homes. Regardless of religious life: the more stable the upbringing, the more academically inclined they became. Of course there are always exceptions to that.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2017 09:09AM by Amyjo.

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Posted by: Eric K ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 01:47PM

I don't believe it is because of religion. Since I am an old fart I will mention the following based on my experience. It is entirely anecdotal and based on living in the middle of the US.

Younger folks saw their parent(s) get laid off when they were in engineering or sciences in the 1980's and then again in the 2005-2009 period. Jobs were hard to find and many quit engineering. Pay dropped considerably at those times.

Respect for engineering is low at many companies - engineers are often treated as a commodity or merely an FTE (full time equivalent as necessary overhead). Foreign born workers (Indian) are sometimes brought in at much lower pay. I know a few engineers who had to train their foreign replacements in order to get their severances. That was highly depressing. This may not be very common, but the stories certainly make the rounds and discourage young people from entering the sciences and engineering.

The societal pressure to 'follow you dreams' rarely leads to engineering. Younger folks go into the arts instead. There are more students studying performing arts than engineering in the US currently.

The upside currently is the demand for skilled engineers is high. My income in my final years surprised me. One needs to be a self-starter willing to continuously learn and take some risks. Engineering is a bit boring and rarely does engineering come up in fun conversations. It pays the bills and more. The follow your dreams should be found in family, hobbies and other activities in my opinion unless one is exceptional in the arts.

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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 03:47PM

and I would agree with you especially with the foreign imports for less observation.

The "follow your dreams" thing would be applicable to the phyisical and life sciences though. You certainly don't go into them for the money...

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Posted by: Loyalexmo ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 06:26PM

That's untrue. The visual and performing arts category TOGETHER (including things like graphic design, music education, etc., that lead directly to careers) make up 3.8% of majors, while engineering (quite a small field) make up 3.5%.

By far the most popular major is business, which is usually not a passion project but doesn't actually lead to lucrative careers most of the time.

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Posted by: Eric K ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 07:37PM

Perhaps I read incorrectly. I am often on campus of a liberal arts university where I play in different groups. I know tons of aspiring musicians, dancers and vocalists. I feel for them as they have little chance of a successful careers in their fields. So perhaps my view is clouded.

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Posted by: Loyalexmo ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 08:06PM

The theatre students at our school tend to go on to have successful careers...but many of them become directors, dramaturgs, production managers, stage managers, lighting designers, costume designers, or set designers, or they go on to grad school or become theatre educators or high school teachers or professors. Some work in arts nonprofits or are literary managers of theatres. We've also had many playwrights go on to get large grants and live off of playwriting alone. Some make very good money and some make little, but they still live off their craft. Some programs don't teach students to explore different avenues and only laud performance, which is a mistake, not only for monetary reasons but because there are many rewarding careers in the arts. Many students I've known focused on performance at first and then realized they weren't even really interested in it, but then went on to develop a passion for stage management which pays quite well and has constant work available. Some schools don't encourage that and that's a shame.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2017 08:08PM by Loyalexmo.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 05:56AM

>>Foreign born workers (Indian) are sometimes brought in at much lower pay.

I think that the H1-B visas are being overused in order to keep wages down. The same thing happens in teaching.

IT is exploding as a major at my alma mater, and a lot of women are pursuing it.

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Posted by: getbusylivin ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 04:05PM

The United States cannot compete in the global labor market.

Back when the U.S. economy was safely swaddled between the Atlantic and Pacific, foreign labor was no big deal.

Now it's a different world. I live in Ecuador and work over the internet for California firms. I can charge less than my competitors who live back in the States because my living expenses are a fraction of what they were back there. Multiply me times a couple billion other people and you understand why the U.S. economy is screwed.

Business is global. Innovation is global. Finance is global. Research is global. Creativity is global. Resources are global. Markets are global. Meanwhile American "exceptionalism" is a myth.

The U.S. still has a pretty good hand but no longer holds all the cards, and as each successive hand is dealt its cards get worse and worse. The current push toward protectionism ("America First") will only exacerbate the problem, IMO.

And the days when the U.S. could maintain its hegemony by, to give one example, invading Southeast Asia to protect its access to rubber and other raw materials are in the past. The U.S. still has more guns and bombs than anyone else but guns and bombs alone don't work any more.

Can American workers compete? Don't hold your breath.

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Posted by: dogzilla ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 03:32PM

^^^^ THIS.

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Posted by: Tall Man, Short Hair ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 04:48PM

US News publishes a very comprehensive international rating of countries and the quality of their education taking into account lots of data regarding income, health, access, etc. The US ranks 7th in the world according to their metrics beating out countries like Sweden, Denmark, and Japan.

Also, the study you cite appears to be compiled by a group seeking to advance an agenda against religion (this is my shocked face). They label "religion" as the culprit, but a quick view of their information shows that Islamic countries are holding all the bottom spots. Rather than citing Islam as hurting academics, it's better for the agenda just to say "religion."

Watch this forum for any length of time, and you'll see repeated citations of Pew and Gallup polls that show the contraction of American religious life. Church attendance is falling, as is the percentage of those professing faith is falling as well. With those facts in hand, the influence of religion in our society is clearly decreasing, not increasing.

But our OP has a consistent record of personal disdain for all things related to religion, and this slanted topic is just another example.

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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 06:06PM

I personally am not religious. But -- I would never deny anyone's right to practise their faith as they see fit.

What I am against is religious opression, hate and exclusion. This is what usually happens in the American context. When people say their faith is the only true religion and everyone else should be compelled to believe what they believe, that's what I'm against. America is a land of many faiths -- not just one or none -- and goverment should and must be neutral with respect to religion.

Scientific theories are open to attack as new facts and data become available and they are then updated and refined. That's not the case with religious dogma -- which is in the "the complete and total answer for all questions -- past, present, and future" category.

You are right about the polls and surveys -- but the religious right is demanding more and more political influence. It's not just happening in America. This is happening in other countries as well -- India for example that has a large Hindu majority.

Religion is Pandora's Box and you can't please everyone. Years ago if you grew up in the average small town in America most people would be Christian with a few people of other faiths. America is much more diverse nowadays.

Suppose it's a year where Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, and Eid are all close together. Does the town have a display that says "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays?" Throw Kwanzaa, atheists and Buddhists into the mix too just to make things interesting. All of these celebrations have both a civic, secular component and a religious one. It's bland and boring but just a lot easier for the town to be officialy neutral and just say "Happy Holidays."

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2017 07:21PM by anybody.

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Posted by: Stray Mutt ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 05:07PM

Meanwhile, there are religious factions that claim America's problem is not enough religion.

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Posted by: badassadam ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 05:19PM

Cults and fairy tales hurt America

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Posted by: Thinking ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 05:19PM

I find it interesting pop culture is never brought up as a culprit. People coming to this country are more immune to its mind numbing effects.

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Posted by: readwrite ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 10:38PM

Pop (and Mom) Culture-yes.
So is bureaucracy + the cost of higher education.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 06:18PM

I don't know about other states, but the education standards has become more stringent in New York even since my own children graduated from high school. And the bar was already high for them and their peers.

It isn't easy to get a HS diploma in NYS. There was a Christian club in my kids high school, along with other clubs as after school extra-curricular activities. It was not taught in the classroom, albeit even in New York there are teachers who are believers. Including their science teacher, who taught Sunday school on Sundays.

He was able to balance his religious life with his professional. He like some others that stand out, was one of the exemplary teachers of their growing up years, whom I had a deep respect for - both in his teaching ability and as a person.

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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 06:58PM

No one is saying you have to be an athiest to teach science. I had several professors who were Jesuits. They just kept faith and religion out of class.

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Posted by: dodo ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 06:26PM

Had I spent as much time learning mathematics, science, or anything for that matter, as I did sitting in some boring Seminary class, I'm quite sure that I would understand the world better today and probably would have fared better in the work place. Religion took precedence over academics.

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Posted by: readwrite ( )
Date: March 21, 2017 10:41PM

dodo is right. Seminary is a waste of time - and brain power!

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Posted by: seamaiden ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 12:32AM

I have talked about this is a different thread, Its killing the Globe via environment, this is one of many areas we are shooting ourselves in the foot.

Most if not all of coal country fit in the bible belt! I digress

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Posted by: seamaiden ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 05:47AM

I Love Lee camp, this seems to be the topic of the week! This is more about politics, which stokes the religious population during election cycles...

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/22/2017 05:50AM by seamaiden.

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Posted by: Pooped ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 12:44AM

I think many in the US have heroes like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Jeff Bezos. All are billionaires and I don't believe they were all highly scientific. Gates dropped out of college but was a self-taught computer geek. Bezos graduated in electrical engineering but his strength is his business skills and love for automation. There aren't many students today who think they will reap great rewards financially in a field of science. They are after the big bucks through business endeavors. There are a few seeking rewards through innovative inventions but they are far and few between. Steve Jobs fit here but, again, he left school early. Natural talent in that area beat out hard learned schooling. From other countries the sciences spell security and safety. Their families put a lot of pressure on them to perform academically. I think a lot of families are letting their children grow-up on auto pilot in America thinking it is the school's job to instill ambition and set the example for life accomplishments. The parents are out making and spending the money they make as fast as it comes in. Other countries seem to have more involved parents and more disciplined children. I don't think religion is the culprit but rather changing American social values and the difference in values in other countries. Should your child's smartphone be the babysitter? Money is king in this country.

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Posted by: Wilruff ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 01:30AM

"Don't let schooling get in the way of education"
Mark Twain

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Posted by: AlternativeGold ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 06:32AM

Many people have been and are on a Broad And Straight Path of religion- this is especially true if they're doing alot of proselytizing, church activity, missionary work; letting everyone know, and even via the local paper; wearing Neiru shirts if it's eastern religion they've just "seen the light" via, etc.... This is pretty much an Old Aeon thing however (I'm referring to the moksha Age Of Osiris, or Pisces, which ended in 2012)- people are going to begin be more Straight And Narrow path about such things! The rise of Secular Humanism, or attitude, will mean less Lunch, in certain ways, for vainly religious' egos. You might encounter an Holy Saint sometime, who might tell you they're Atheist- this might reflect the opinion of this topic! Those who are interested in Attainment or Truth generally eschew any significant involvement with current Science, which traps the soul too tightly in the body; not so much Math though, I believe.

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Posted by: catnip ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 07:00AM

It's quarter to five in the morning and I have not been asleep since 2, so I'm here. Forgive me if I am a bit muddled.

First, foremost and for as long as I can remember,language and its components have been far more fascinating to me that anything numerical. Stories? YES! Bring 'em on! NUMBERS, Bah,humbug. . .boring, take 'em next door. They never led anywhere, except to pages and pages of more of the same. Blech.

Reading, writing, learning foreign languages and that sort of thing has been the leitmotiv for my life. Nobody has ever convinced me that any form of science could bring on the "But what happens NEXT?" fascination in stories. I don't know whether this is something that just is implicit within my brain wiring, or whether, if I had had better teachers, my brain (which is anything but stupid) could possibly been directed more productively toward sciences.

I think I turned my brain off very early in school (Junior high, maybe) that science did not interest me, so I simply "endured" whatever classes I had to get through. I was far from "engaged" with the material.

I once had a brilliant friend tell me that math and music were very much alike, once you got past the "arithmetic" stage, which was mostly drudgery. Despite trying hard, I never got past the drudgery, so I never saW the brilliance or the wonder of it all.

My friend isn't very adroit with languages, either, so I wonder if our brains are simply wired differently. And quite possibly, this attraction to word functions vs number functions shows up at a very early age. I'm guessing that it is already set, and once a kid realized which way his mind works, is likely to resist being shoved in the other direction.

Pure, sleepy speculation here.

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 10:38AM

catnip Wrote:
Great post, catnip :)

> I once had a brilliant friend tell me that math
> and music were very much alike, once you got past
> the "arithmetic" stage, which was mostly drudgery.
> Despite trying hard, I never got past the
> drudgery, so I never saW the brilliance or the
> wonder of it all.

You should see what I can do with differential equations, both describing and predicting natural behavior. It's the sweet, clear, inspirational music of the cosmos!

> ...I wonder if our brains are simply wired
> differently. And quite possibly, this attraction
> to word functions vs number functions shows up at
> a very early age. I'm guessing that it is already
> set, and once a kid realized which way his mind
> works, is likely to resist being shoved in the
> other direction.

There is room -- in fact, need -- in the world for those who love and work with words, and for those who love and work with numbers. There's no need to argue about which is "better." Celebrating those who are adroit in either (and many other fields) makes the world a better place. Here's to your words -- long may you play with and share them.

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Posted by: dogzilla ( )
Date: March 22, 2017 03:48PM

Interesting story here.

A couple years after I graduated from college -- with a degree in journalism -- I was in my home state visiting my mom and she insisted that I go through some boxes in my old room and get rid of whatever I didn't want. When I did that, I came across this folder where, evidently, I'd collected all of my standardized test scores and report cards and school awards in one place. I put everything in chronological order and you'll be as surprised as I was when I tell you what I noticed.

From second grade on, I basically had the same results: My math scores were my lowest, in the low-90s percentiles (nothing to sneeze at; that's still pretty damn respectable), my social studies (if tested) scores were next highest and then my English/Language Arts/Reading/Writing scores were always above the 95th percentile.

But my science scores? My science scores have been OFF THE MAP -- well over 100th percentile -- for my entire life. I had no idea. Nobody ever noticed, or pointed it out to my parents, nor encouraged me in the sciences. Ever. Not once. (Although I suspect my high school chemistry teacher went through student records and knew about my science scores because she was always trying to talk to me about a STEM major -- and I insisted that math and science were my weakest subjects.) I assumed my ELA scores were great, so that's the direction I went in -- I wanted to become a writer. I'm not a great writer, but I am a great editor, so that's what I do.

When I applied for this job, I put together a portfolio -- samples of my work over the years. As I presented it to the interview committee, I noticed a trend: Every single magazine article I had written had something to do with science. I wrote about sharks (biology), I wrote about lightning (meteorology), I wrote about Nitrox diving (chemistry), I wrote about solar-hydrogen power (more chemistry -- turns out I'm really good at chemistry).

But if you looked at my science class grades, which were pretty good in general, they didn't really reflect the ability that the standardized test scores revealed. And I finally figured out that it had a LOT to do with learning styles. I have trouble with abstract concepts. Letters aren't numbers and numbers aren't letters, so when the algebra teacher tells me x = 0, I cannot wrap my brain around such an abstraction. When the chemistry teacher made me fill out these huge spreadsheets showing different molecules created from different mixes of elements, my mind just boggled. But when she pulled out the color-coded molecule model, it all clicked. ("Oh, red = oxygen, blue = hydrogen, 2 blues plus 1 red = water!") I was awesome at trignometry and geometry because those are spatial maths. I can picture a parallellogram or a triangle and from there, I can relate the abstract to something that is real to me, a shape or an angle. I would like to go back and make all my science and math teachers teach me spatial relationships rather than simply trying to make me memorize abstract concepts.

It may not be so much that you're "bad" at math, it might be you simply weren't taught using a methodology that works well with your particular learning style.

Speaking of being bad at math, I have always claimed myself to be terrible at math. "I can barely count to 20 with my shoes on." LOL But my last job required me to manage a multi-million dollar budget and I was one of the few people in the company with a grasp on a very complex and confusing part of the budget. Why? Because I was able to imagine a spatial relationship and the budget wasn't just a list of numbers to me. Those numbers related to something and the rest was just arithmetic, which is what Excel is for. I didn't even have to take off my shoes!

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 03/22/2017 03:52PM by dogzilla.

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Posted by: Breeze ( )
Date: March 23, 2017 01:39PM

Ask any of us who graduated from BYU if religion got in the way of a decent education.

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