The Corner

The Confidence Trap in Education

This may be a familiar insight, I suppose, but it bears repeating, particularly given new evidence: American schools have done their students great harm by emphasizing the pursuit of self-esteem over the pursuit of excellence.

In a new report from the center-left Brookings Institution, there is a striking inverse correlation between perception and reality among pupils in developed countries. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. 8th-graders said they were confident in their math skills. Only 6 percent of South Korean kids expressed the same sentiment. But the latter significantly outperform the former on credible international math tests. Similarly, while 66 percent of U.S. teachers said they tried to connect their math lessons to students’ daily lives, only 14 percent of Japanese teacher expressed the same aspiration. But it will be the Japanese students whose math lessons connect to their daily lives as adults — because they will have actually learned math.

John Hood — John Hood is president of the John William Pope Foundation, a Raleigh-based grantmaker that supports public policy organizations, educational institutions, arts and cultural programs, and humanitarian relief in North Carolina ...

Most Popular

Education

The Deflation of the Academic Brand

Trumpism is sometimes derided as an updated know-nothingism that rejects expertise and the input of credentialed expertise. Supposedly, professionals who could now save us tragically have their talent untapped as they sit idle at the Council on Foreign Relations, the economics Department at Harvard, or in the ... Read More
Elections

My Journey into the Heart of Obama-Trump Country

After eight years of displeasure with Barack Obama’s presidency, Carla Johnson was ready for a drastic change. The 41-year-old lab technician from Cresco, Iowa, fell for Donald Trump very early in the 2016 primary season. She loved his “take-no-[sh**]” style, his conservative stances on gun control and ... Read More