Friday, November 16, 2007

Excellence in math and science of Confucian Asian students

There's a report today saying that students (about 13 years old) from Singapore, Taiwan, S. Korea, HK and Japan -- the "Confucian Asians" (China should be part of this group) -- are the best in math and science around the world. Below:

East Asian students shine in study of math and science scores
By Sam Dillon
Published: November 15, 2007

”Students in Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan significantly outperform American students on math and science tests, according to a new study from a U.S. nonprofit organization. But U.S. students, even in low-performing states like Alabama, do better on math and science tests than students in most other foreign countries, the study found. "In this case, the bad news trumps the good, because our Asian economic competitors are winning the race to prepare students in math and science," said the study's author, Gary Phillips, chief scientist at the American Institutes for Research, a nonprofit independent scientific research firm….”

I wonder why Chinese students are not in the top list. I am among those who believe that "Confucian ethics" is one of the important factors why many East Asian countries experience veryfast economic growth. The ethics are simple, like "hard work and frugality is a virtue". You compare that with the growing "entitlement mentality" in many developed countries today.

The neighboring countries of these Confucian Asians, mainly the Malay Asians -- Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc. -- are somehow "infected" with these ethics and discipline by virtue of closer proximity. It's just that many governments of these Malay Asians have tried and got burned, with socialist or dictatorial governments, which explains for their slower economic growth than their Confucian neighbors.

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