Here in the United States, we sometimes get to thinking that the youth of America is no longer made of what writer Tom Wolfe called “the right stuff.”
As if it weren’t enough to read reports about sexual promiscuity…drug use…violence induced by sports, video games and music…and sloppy dress, work habits, and language…our kids just aren't very smart, especially in mathematics and science.
Or so we've come to believe.
Year after year, our mediocre test scores in math and science are said to pale beside those of young people from places like Asia and Scandinavia. If these slackers are the American scientists and engineers of tomorrow, how will we ever build another bridge?
Unless there's some secret cadre of clean-cut kids out in the cornfields of Kansas or the mountains of Idaho who are devouring chemistry and physics assignments, we're sunk.
But wait…this just in! According to the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, Americans' scores have held steady and even increased slightly over the 10 years that tests have been uniformly administered around the world. And scores in brainy places like Sweden and Norway and Bulgaria have dropped like a rock.
Kids in Singapore and South Korea and Japan still lead the way in science and math, and we can't quite figure out why. After all, Japanese 14-year-olds watch 30 minutes more television a day than American 14-year-olds do. Maybe they're looking at math lectures!
At least American kids aren't quite the slouches some thought they were. Perhaps those brainy kids from Kansas and Idaho have been secretly moving to schools all across the country!