Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Education United States News Science

U.S. Students Struggle With Reasoning Skills 488

sciencehabit writes "The first-ever use of interactive computer tasks on a national science assessment suggests that most U.S. students struggle with the reasoning skills needed to investigate multiple variables, make strategic decisions, and explain experimental results. The results (PDF) are part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress that was given in 2009 to a representative sample of students in grades four, eight, and 12. What the vast majority of students can do, the data show, is make straightforward analyses. More than three-quarters of fourth grade students, for example, could determine which plants were sun-loving and which preferred the shade when using a simulated greenhouse to determine the ideal amount of sunlight for the growth of mystery plants. When asked about the ideal fertilizer levels for plant growth, however, only one-third of the students were able to perform the required experiment, which featured nine possible fertilizer levels and only six trays. Fewer than half the students were able to use supporting evidence to write an accurate explanation of the results. Similar patterns emerged for students in grades 8 and 12."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

U.S. Students Struggle With Reasoning Skills

Comments Filter:
  • No suprise there (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:44PM (#40372659) Journal

    US adults struggle with reasoning skills too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It seems to be particularly prevalent in the US House of Representatives and the Catholic Church.
      • The Congress is a great example of pure classic conditioning, except the reward isn't cheese, it's money.

        You reward even the mindless and they will do what you want. They also see their buddies getting revolving door jobs and that acts as a delayed gratification. This is why you get nothing but the money hungry in Congress now. If your gratification is helping your constituents you don't survive very long.

        • Re:No suprise there (Score:5, Informative)

          by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:21PM (#40373215)

          :"Dangers of a Salaried Bureaucracy," 1787

          "Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have, in many minds, the most violent effects."
          Benjamin Franklin

      • Re:No suprise there (Score:5, Interesting)

        by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:48PM (#40374809)
        Interestingly enough, the study separates Catholic schools from other private schools. I didn't see a reference to grade 12, but at grades 4 and 8 Catholic schooled children outperform publicly schooled children and are on par with privately schooled children. I don't know the statistics about how many Catholic schooled children grow up to be active Catholics; it seems like you have a better shot of being good at reason if you are trained by them.
    • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:46PM (#40372675) Journal

      Blatantly false. Since US kids have a problem with reasoning and I am not a kid I must not have reasoning problems.

    • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:48PM (#40372691)

      I ain't paid to reason, I paid to go to meetin's.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:49PM (#40372721)

      Broader than that: Humans struggle with reasoning skills.

      • Re:No suprise there (Score:5, Interesting)

        by catchblue22 ( 1004569 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:27PM (#40374425) Homepage

        Broader than that: Humans struggle with reasoning skills.

        I would suggest that your comment indirectly implies an important root of the problem. Many in the social sciences attempt to study human society as if it were an ant colony, from a distance, as if the observer is separate from the observed. As we look at human beings and their foibles and faults, we seem to be led to the conclusion that humans are nothing like what we would wish. We don't seem to be rational. We often don't seem to be moral. We in fact seem to be rather despicable creatures. Leaving it at that, we are tempted to throw up our arms and say "to hell with humans, we are beyond help". All our idealism, our attempts to be rational, to be good seem hopeless and futile.

        However I would like to take this further. Humans tend to be irrational. Humans tend to be selfish evil creatures. Our natural tendencies imply that we must try harder to overcome them. Because we tend to fall into irrationality, we must fight to be rational. Because we tend to be selfish and shallow means that we must try our best to nurture "the better angels in our nature". We will never "win" this battle. We will never vanquish evil and selfishness. But if we try, maybe, just maybe we can make our civilisation into a system that gives most of us a better and more fulfilling life.

    • by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:11PM (#40373085) Homepage

      After watching the Republican primary debates, I certainly NEVER would have guessed that Americans had poor reasoning abilities.

  • by djlemma ( 1053860 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:49PM (#40372705)
    The headline implies that US students have more difficulty with reasoning skills than other students as a whole, or that this difficulty is unique to students from the US. I could easily imagine that these skills are lacking for students around the globe...
    • by thepike ( 1781582 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:55PM (#40372815)

      Agreed, I'd like to see the scores from other countries.

      Also, I'd like to see this with adults in different professions. For instance, are scientists better at this than artists? And what about creativity scores?

      My gut says that a) all children will probably not be great at this and b) adults probably aren't either. And sadly it probably doesn't match up as well with profession as we might like. I'm a molecular biologist and plenty of my colleagues would probably struggle with these tasks. I wish I could take the test to see how I do (but I'm also afraid I would fail miserably).

    • by gmack ( 197796 )

      Indeed, I'm in europe right now and I can tell you that reasoning and critical thinking skills are not exactly top notch here either.

    • The headline implies that US students have more difficulty with reasoning skills than other students as a whole, or that this difficulty is unique to students from the US.

      The way I interpreted it is that they only tested U.S. students, so it'd be premature to assume the results extrapolate to students elsewhere. If you have a bunch of green and red apples, and you try a few of the green ones and they taste bad, the correct declarative statement would be "The green apples taste bad." It implies nothing ab

    • No, it implies that they are bad at reasoning; Probably too bad to productively live in the real world. It does not matter where they stand on an international scale when they are this bad at reasoning.

  • by KraxxxZ01 ( 2445360 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:49PM (#40372709)
    game developers are to blame for making games too easy and mentally unchallenging.
  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:49PM (#40372713) Journal
    -- instead of teaching them how to actually think.
    • by elsurexiste ( 1758620 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:56PM (#40372837) Journal

      ...teaching them how to actually think.


    • ya in college I had a professor who simply asked questions during his class, and had us discuss them and defend our answers I'd always leave his class with a serious headache, because damn thinking is hard. It certainly isn't something you're taught in school, school is all about absorbing facts and parroting stuff back it isn't about critical thinking skills at all.
    • That's just a communist attitude right there..

      Next you'll be saying that they shouldn't be taught how to become good corporate citizens.

      Buy more! Buy more now.
      Can you be more specific?

    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      -- instead of teaching them how to actually think.

      Paradoxically, this test proves otherwise.

    • This, this, a thousand times THIS!

      The us education system (and many others) for K-12 seems almost entirely devoted to learning by rote and teaching to standardized tests. There are certainly schools and individual teachers that buck this trend, but it's not until college that you've got a reasonable chance at actually being challenged to THINK.

    • -- instead of teaching them how to actually think.

      My wife is a second grade teacher and the whole teaching paradigm now is all about learning by discovery. Back in my day, we sat in rows and columns and memorized. If today's kids are struggling with reasoning skills more than yesterday's kids, it's not the teaching methods that are at fault. Unless being forced to memorize everything is actually the better way.

      If you ask me, it's the TV shows they watch nowadays. No wonder they all have ADHD.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Rows and columns? Back in my day, we had to sit in hilbert curves, and we liked it!

      • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:28PM (#40373357)

        I see a lot of comments about "schools don't teach you to think anymore." On the other hand, you can't reason the right answers out if you have the wrong basis (facts, memorization, etc.). It's like saying that elementary school math doesn't teach you how to solve large multiplication problems anymore, they just teach times tables! ... but it's hard to do a multiplication problem without knowing what 6 * 8 is off the top of your head. Memorization of some things is extremely important to reasoning skills.

        I also wonder if it has to do with books. Reading is out, other forms of media is in. Visual media doesn't make you think a whole lot. Even adults that do think can watch a movie, totally zone out and entirely ignore how things are presented, what views the movie is expressing (if any), whether or not it's realistic in any way, etc. Some movies push you to think; most, though, push people to turn off their brains.

        And since visual media (games, TV, movies, etc) are getting more and more prevalent ... I wonder if the lack of reasoning and thinking is related to the lack of necessity of imagination that is stimulated through reading books?

        • by slew ( 2918 )

          Actually, I'd take a more epistemological angle to the problem. I think we may have accidentally taught young people that knowledge is something that need to be "searched" for rather than "discovered".

          I think schools have always given a hint to students that ther superiors have the knowledge that they seek and all you have to do is seek it out, but due to the lack of available research resources in the past, both teachers and students have been forced to improvise, almost accidentally teaching students to

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      The problem is, teaching people to think isn't exactly a useful life skill. Being able to think is by and large less useful than being able to regurgitate facts, and much much less useful than being able to shmooze with the right people.

  • Congratulations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:49PM (#40372715)

    After billions of dollars we have produced an education system churning out children that cannot think for themselves.

    • But they get excited for the next ipad, so we have that.

      Sorry... with a story like this it's just too much of a temptation to let the karma burn.

  • by __aaeihw9960 ( 2531696 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:49PM (#40372717)

    bashing commence.

    Critical reasoning skills = critical thinking skills. Parents are just as vital in the equation here as teachers. Yes, teachers have a job to do there, but, in my opinion, this shows a failure of the culture, rather than education.

    From early on, we're conditioned to be mindless little consumers. Why think about problems when you can take a pill and make them all go away? Why consider alternates to problem solving when you can just spend the problem away.

    You want mindless drones, you get mindless drones.

    How to counteract this? Get rid of those freaking standardized tests, for one. Invest heavily in the arts in primary grades, and cross-teach the arts/sciences. Bring connections between drawing and engineering, math and music. And finally, take the politics out of my classroom. I don't need you to tell me how to teach. I take P.D. courses every year, have two advanced degrees, and years of experience telling me that I can generally figure out what's best for each. and. every. individual. student.

    But this is all just my opinion.

    • by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:01PM (#40372933) Journal

      But you are assuming that a government run school wants to produce students who can think critically.

      If they did, then these people may actually ask the hard questions. "Why are you in office if all you do is lie to the public, cheat to get ahead, and steal from the public coffers?", "Why is the drug scheduling system based on "Potential for abuse" and not "Danger to the health of the individual?", "How can you violate the 4th amendment to the constitution by passing security acts and not amending the constitution?"

      See, they don't want people who can think. They want people who will shut up and do what they are told.

      This from someone who's daughter asked the hard questions in school about drug policy. Thus he was visited by the police to discuss it in detail. (Not a drug user but the mere argument was enough to get them to stop by for a chat.)

      • This from someone who's daughter asked the hard questions in school about drug policy. Thus he was visited by the police to discuss it in detail. (Not a drug user but the mere argument was enough to get them to stop by for a chat.)


        My wife and I do not use any illegal drugs, but are both completely against the war on drugs, and we live in an extremely conservative, authoritarian area of the country.

        For the past few years when our young kids have had their "anti-drug" week in school, they've come home spouting mindless propaganda. In response, we've tried tried to explain it to them in as nuanced a way as we think they can handle.

        Looking forward to my "visit" one of these years.

    • I'm the very first to bash public schools, but this time the first thing that popped into my head was "these kids never had to debug a problem with a desktop PC" (swapping parts with a working one, etc). And that, of course, was just the modern variant of working on cars, which in turn was the new version of farming (if I plant seeds in this fashion... or if I train my horse in this fashion...). What all three of these have in common is working with the hands. As Dr. Maria Montessori said, "The hands are

    • by Dan667 ( 564390 )
      I think a large problem with current schools is the idea of fairness. Not all teachers are equal and certainly not all students, but all teachers are lumped together and students are generally taught to the lowest common denominator. Life is not fair, it should be taught in school, and those that excel would be allowed to.
      • by __aaeihw9960 ( 2531696 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:14PM (#40373123)

        Do you know why they teach to the lowest common denominator?

        Let me tell you a story that happened just this year:

        We have an autistic student in the grade directly below the one I teach. Low-functioning, highly aggressive and combative, generally a disruptive force in the classroom. When we present the principal, then superintendent, then school board with evidence, research and suggestions, they all agree that he needs to be in a self-contained classroom. Realistically, what this kid is getting != what he's taking away from every other student during the day. So, we call a meeting with the parents, special needs advocate and a ROE representative just to cover all of our bases. What do the parents also bring to the meeting? A lawyer. A lawyer from ~ 600 miles away from the nearest urban center (yes, the words big city lawyer come to mind). Why? Because if we pulled their child away from his friends (he has none), then they would sue fast, sue hard, and sue often.

        In this day of reduced spending, teachers being paraded around like well, like someone that's paraded around for public scorn, what choice did we have?

        Realistically, the other 25 sets of parents should be able to say, "no, you assholes, your child does not get to sap mine." BUT, because we can't tell anyone about what specifically transpired in these meetings using names and what-not, no one knows. All they know is that there are 25 little kids that already hate school, because of one precious little snowflake.

  • by Lucas123 ( 935744 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:51PM (#40372741) Homepage
    Multiple choice, standardized tests don't promote reasoning, just memorization. It's time we revamp the education system and our testing methods. Let's focus on students completing lengthy projects and being graded on their success.
    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:00PM (#40372919) Homepage

      Multiple choice, standardized tests don't promote reasoning, just memorization.

      You're not kidding.

      I took a first year logic/critical reasoning class later in university because I still needed a first year credit and that sounded interesting.

      We were talking about confidence intervals ... and confidence interval of 0.05 meant you were 95% sure. On the exam, the question asked about a confidence interval of 0.5, which I answered as 50% sure.

      The professor marked it wrong, and said that since we'd only covered 0.05 in class, it was a typo -- nobody was expected to know about 0.5. I told her that since it was a class on critical reasoning, she was an idiot and demanded she mark my correct answer as correct. I had to go to the department head to get her to do it.

      When the teachers can't follow reasoning, how the hell are they supposed to teach it? In this case, she was expecting blindly repeating the example from class, not doing any thinking (even though as written all of the people she marked right couldn't have been).

      • by BetterSense ( 1398915 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:36PM (#40373489)
        I still remember getting this one wrong in grade school:

        How many 'states of matter' are there?
        a) 1
        b) 2
        c) 3
        d) 4

        I would answer 4--Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma--because I read books. But we weren't expected to know about plasma, so the correct answer was always 3, and I was marked wrong. The teachers never gave me credit, because I don't think they knew what a plasma was either.
        • by TemperedAlchemist ( 2045966 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:25PM (#40374379)

          Well, there are far more than four, if we're to get technical. For the correct answer to be three, the test would have to indicate that it's referring to classical states, but if it merely asked for states of matter, none of those answers are correct.

      • This makes my insides hurt. This makes me want to go back and become a teacher just to go screw with the straight-A-memorizers. The only questions I plan to ask are tricks. Good luck little miss "I-made-color-coded-flash-cards-but-dont-understand-a-single-god-damned-term-on-them".
    • by Klync ( 152475 )
      The problem is that decision makers need actionable data in order to inform decisions. Whether this is for legislators parceling out funding or administrators deciding on admissions, it applies across the system. The system is designed so that the system works smoothly; not so that children are educated nor that society is improved. I would love to agree with you and say "let's just fix this glaring problem"; But, how? Just about everyone I've ever met who's associated with the education system knows that s
  • I'd probably suck at that test too.
  • When I was going to American public schools prior to my college career, I found that my teachers all taught only the content that would appear on standardized tests, in an effort to fund themselves and the school more.

    In fact, when my cohorts and I would refuse to take the portions of said tests or would write satire about how we hated the tests on the essay portions, the teachers would forcibly make us redo them according to the directions. Interesting, considering these tests were not recorded on my "p
    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:55PM (#40372825)

      Why did that surprise you?
      Teachers are doing a job. If that job is evaluated based on standardized tests, they will make sure that job is done well.

      Do you not work for income? Would you not focus on the parts of your job that are actually evaluated?

    • First off - everyone exists to justify their own existence. Do you blame the teachers for wanting to keep their jobs, not be ostracized publicly when their scores tank, and well, keep their jobs?

      Anyway - so NCLB sucks; that's not news. What would you have them do instead? People demand metrics about how their little precious baby learns, but no one is willing to pay to have it done correctly. People demand top-rate education, but no one is willing to fund it outside of mandatory fees (and even then only if

  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:52PM (#40372771) Homepage Journal
    My three kids are capable of reasoning, but they have a lower tolerance for the amount of time it takes to arrive at an answer through logic. They expect correct answers to be displayed, not deduced. They do play chess, but angry birds as well.
  • by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:54PM (#40372809) []

    Philosophy can be integrated into the curriculum as early as Elementary school, and has wonderful effects that extend beyond developing reasoning skills.
  • by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:56PM (#40372831) Journal
    Although humans are called the "rational animal," I think it is, at best, only correct to call us an animal capable of reason. Logical reasoning isn't necessarily innate: it's something that takes teaching and practice. And even then, as we all know, people who are otherwise very good at reasoning things out can be downright dimwitted about applying that logic to other situations.
  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:57PM (#40372847)

    reasoning skills needed to investigate multiple variables, make strategic decisions, and explain experimental results

    Those skills are all anti-american. You're supposed to follow the herd and believe whatever the preacher and TV say. Anything else isn't cool.

    They need questions like:
    1) Sally takes three plants and puts one in the dark, one in the shade, one in open sunlight. What is the most likely thing to happen next:
    a) The DEA agents find the plant in the dark and bust her
    b) The DEA agents find the plant in the shade and bust her
    c) The DEA agents find the plant in open sunlight and bust her
    d) Sally switches into the far more lucrative prostitution trade and dies of a half dozen STDs.

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:58PM (#40372863) Journal

    No one wants us to be able to think for ourselves. Not the corporations, nor the Government. People that are able to reason, and think for themselves, see the bullshit that is going on, and will call it out. Unfortunately, the bullshit runs this country and the corporations.

    Or you're like me, able to reason and so tired of how stupid most everyone else is, that you gave up and just going to watch the world go to hell.

  • One of the biggest reason failures I see going around involves the overloading of the word 'fact'. There is 'fact' as in the opposite of fiction, and then there is 'fact' as in the opposite of opinion.

    What we see is 'reasoning' that goes like this...

    1+1=37. This is a fiction, and thus isn't a fact. It is the opposite of a fact, so that makes it an opinion. Opinions are by definition not wrong, so 1+1=37 isn't wrong. since it isn't wrong, it must be right. Since it is right it must be true. Since
    • by 0racle ( 667029 )
      Truly you have a dizzying intellect.
    • Yes, that kind of circular reasoning is called induction. A car example, specially for Slashdot: A Trabant is no car. No car is better than a Bentley. Therefore a Trabant is better than a Bentley.
  • The death of logic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by snarfies ( 115214 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:59PM (#40372901) Homepage

    Noted sci-fi author John Barnes recently wrote something about this in his blog: []

    tl;dr version (though its quite a good read, as his books that I have read so far): Girl in her class tried using angry pounding shouting as a debate tactic, and when asked about it, she declared it was "logic." "I was totally logical. I pointed things out real loud and told people they were dumb if they didn't believe it, and I yelled so they'd get the point."

    Yeah. Back in my day "Logic" was a little bird tweeting in the meadow, nowadays its "agrees with me."

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Johann Lau ( 1040920 )

      Oh wow. You know, the people in Idiocracy are at least likeable.... what will actually happen might be so much worse. Also, it will not take 500 years, no siree bob.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:00PM (#40372917) Journal

    Kids live in a world even more arbitrary and capricious than that of adults. This is especially true in primary and secondary school. Why, then, would they develop reasoning skills? Those that do end up challenging authority and getting arbitrarily slapped down, so there's negative incentives as well as a lack of positive ones.

  • I wonder if a case could be made that cognitive dissonance experienced at a young age has prevented the development of proper reasoning skills. If you're told repeatedly that something is true that you can see is false, (or vice-versa) or told at a young age that something did not happen when you have direct experience that it did, the experience does strange things to your brain.

  • Teach Logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:03PM (#40372955) Homepage

    I'm coming around to the opinion that we've got to teach logic at a very young age, as was done in classical education. Ultimately it's the foundation to all of math and the scientific method. If the first time you study basic logic is in college, then your entire education is built on shifting sand.

  • Survey after survey has shown that the self confidence of US students are high and they rate themselves at top of the scales. If they are struggling with reasoning skills they would not have this level of confidence. The more accurate description would be, "the US students have poor reasoning skills, but they don't even know that, and they assume their own faulty analysis is world class."
  • No more metrics (Score:2, Insightful)

    Everyone hear on slashdot probably worked for an employer who utilized these and quality went down everytime where job performance was measured. Every MBA and even undergrad taking business management courses knows that quality always sufers when metrics are used inappropriately as game theory dictates that everyone's goal is to keep ones' job. Not help the company out. So if someone figures out a way to reduce inventory to save costs the VP of manufactoring has a hissy fit as his metrics suffer on amount o

  • Suh-weet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Abalamahalamatandra ( 639919 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:23PM (#40373275)

    I'll be 44 in a couple of weeks.

    Another name for this is "job security".

  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:31PM (#40373423)

    I just have to ask, is it really reasonable to assume that everyone should have great analytical skills? The study says that about one third of the students had the necessary reasoning skills. This sounds about right to me. Most people are not very analytical. This is why professions that require good analytical skills (medicine, engineering, law, etc.) tend to pay good wages.

    Anyway, this study would be more interesting if we could compare current results with results from the past, or results in other countries. As it is, it's about as interesting as saying, "One third of students were over five feet tall." Without some sort of context to put that in, we can only speculate on its significance.

    • I've also heard that around half of school children have below average reading comprehension and geometry skills.

  • Big surprise? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kaz Kylheku ( 1484 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:34PM (#40373447) Homepage

    Most people are not going to become scientists. At the elementary school level, people are not yet pre-selected for thinking roles; you're looking at basically a more or less random sample of the population.

    Out of a thousand elementary school kids, how many will become scientists, engineers, etc?

    Now if, say, third year engineering students across the USA are were found to be struggling with reasoning skills, oops, that would be troubling news.

    Unfortunately for those kids who are struggling with reasoning, though, a lot of the kinds of jobs that they might have easily gone into after high school fifty years ago are now overseas.

    • Out of a thousand elementary school kids, how many will become scientists, engineers, etc?

      Reasoning skills aren't only important to scientists and engineers. They are also important to (and this list is not exhaustive) managers and administrators, accountants, lawyers, teachers, counselors, law enforcement officers, soldiers, guardians of children, people managing households, and -- in a democratic society -- citizens.

  • Overly critical. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @02:54PM (#40373833)

    Anyone who thinks American students are bad with reasoning obviously hasn't spent much time outside the country. Those people haven't seen anything, especially Asia. And the problem isn't just reasoning skills, it's simply entertaining your own opinion as opposed to trying to please a superior. I've been in situations where an employee was asked what they thought about something and they'd sheepishly avoid the answer. Even when pressed they seemed unable to come up with a response. Lack of creative and independent thinking continues to be a problem, even in Japan.

    That said, I think America is moving too far in the opposite direction. Sometimes rote memorization essential. And you need standardized tests to glean some sort of progress. They might not be perfect, but there's no better alternative.

    The fact of the matter is that you need the fundamentals before you can progress. It's similar to artistic technique. Too many people hide behind the label of modern art to excuse their lack of talent. In order to have flexibility you need underlying ability. It's essentially the same principle here. And the fact is that kids don't necessarily have the knack for reasoning that people acquire with age. So why waste excessive amounts of energy trying to drill that into them?

    But certainly, Americans have the ability to think independently and creatively. And I find them to generally be better informed and less prone to falling for myths, urban legends and other such nonsense. I'll concede, it could be the part of the country where I live. But overseas and amongst immigrants I've found that the consensus is that the US has the best educational system in the world.

  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:00PM (#40373933)

    Kids don't have any reason to learn how to use their brains or learn any skills. What would they need them for? We've managed to offshore just about every profession requiring either.

  • Christian country (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sir-gold ( 949031 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @03:37PM (#40374617)

    It is no wonder that we have a lack of reasoning skills when we have a popular religion that instructs us NOT to reason, and to simply accept things the way they are without question.

    Having children who can properly think and reason leads to uncomfortable questions like : "why are there no dinosaurs in the bible?" or "how can the entire earth flood in only a few days?" or "where did Noah store all that food?"

    In other words, The US is full of stupid people, because their religion tells them to be stupid

All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing without thinking.