A survey asked 8th grade students in the United States and Singapore if they agreed with the following statement, “I usually do well in mathematics.” About 40% of students in the United States “agreed a lot” with the statement compared to less than 20% of students in Singapore. This demonstrates that American students are confident with their abilities in mathematics.
However, the actual data show different results. In fact, according to the “Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study” the most confident United States students scored an averaged 541 while the students in Singapore scored 642 on a standarized math exam. Even the least confident Singapore students averaged higher scores than the most confident student in the United States!
The focus on American education has been on confidence and experience rather than actually learning the facts. In my opinion, it is a great idea to teach children to be confident in their abilities, however, at some point in time, they actually need to use those abilities and have the knowledge to use them!
To modify an old expression: “You can tell a kid he’s a good fisherman, but that ain’t gonna feed him!”