American Caste (b)

America has a national crisis in math capacity, competence and merit. American students sharply underperform students in many countries all over the world. Including Vietnam, which is a poorer country than India per capita. We will heavily refer to the 2018 OECD PISA report in below paragraphs, but the below chart graphic is from the 2015 OECD PISA scores report because math scores are reported for more countries in the 2015 report. Perhaps the 2018 report will be revised to add more countries in the future:

In my view  a level 5 PISA score is the minimum requirement for a person to be considered a high school graduate who is literate in math, able to function in the modern global economy, or be qualified to attend college. The PISA report defines a level 5 PISA score or better as a fifteen year old that “can model complex situations mathematically, and can select, compare and evaluate appropriate problem-solving strategies for dealing with them.” How does America perform in the 2018 PISA report?:

  • United States: 8% of students scored at Level 5 or higher in mathematics
  • OECD average: 11%
  • Six Asian countries and economies had the largest shares of students who did so:
    • Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China): 44%
    • Singapore: 37%
    • Hong Kong (China): 29%
    • Macao (China): 28%
    • Chinese Taipei: 23%
    • Korea: 21%

Note that these six countries were among the poorest countries in the world in the 1950s, far poorer than poor Americans or poor Europeans or poor Chileans can even imagine. In 1979 China was unbelievably poor. Much of the population of China–perhaps as many as 100 million–had starved to death because of extreme poverty in the 1970s. Poor children around the world are outperforming American children in mathematics despite extremely low education spending per student and very low socio-economic level of their legal guardians, where socio-economic level is defined as:

  • income
  • wealth
  • formal education of parents

Do any American high school student subgroups perform well in Mathematics? Yes, “people of color” or “minority” Americans perform well in Mathematics. America’s “people of color” or “minority” students are orders of magnitude more likely to get an 800 on the mathematics SAT than European Americans. If we assume this is an extreme tail end distribution issue related to European Americans having a lower standard deviation and non standard distribution in mathematics performance relative to “people of color” or “minority” Americans, we can explore the breakdown of Americans who score between 750 and 800 on the Mathematics SAT. Here European Americans perform far better relative to “people of color” or “minority” Americans.  In 2015 16,000 European Americans scored 750 or higher. 33,000 “people of color” and “minority” Americans scored 750 or higher. We further know that 51% of SAT test takers were European Americans and 49% were “people of color” or “minority” Americans.  “People of color” or “minority” Americans are [33,000/16,000]*[51%/49%] or 2.15 times as likely to score 750 or higher on the mathematics SAT compared to European Americans.  If we examine the 107,900 test takers who got SAT math scores of 700 or higher; 59,900 are “people of color” or “minority” Americans, versus 48,000 European Americans. “People of color” or “minority” Americans are [59,900/48,000]*[51%/49%] or 1.30 times as likely to score 700 or higher on the mathematics SAT compared to European Americans. For data junkie geeks like me there is a lot more data on SAT math score distributions here and here. The Greta Anderson article’s comment section in particular has some very intelligent commentators who have studied the American SAT score distribution. This is likely to be the subject of many future blog posts and Brown Pundits Podcasts.

What about this is worrying?:

  1. European Americans in particular are sharply under-performing both very poor children around the world and “people of color” and “minority” Americans in mathematics.
  2. American mathematics SAT scores have fallen between 1972 and 2016. 1972 is the earliest year for which I could find comparable SAT mathematics scores. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 the SAT mathematics exam was completely restructured to make scores no longer comparable to SAT mathematics scores between 1972 and 2016.
  3. 90% or more of current jobs and businesses are likely to be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI), brain electro-therapy (meditation . . . practiced by civilizations around the world for over 5,000 years), brain sound therapy (naad or mantra yoga and their equivalents in Native American, Egyptian, Sumerian, Taoist and other civilizations around the world for over 5,000 years), bio-engineering tissue, genetic editing, and fused AI-brain interface synthesis intelligence. Almost all of these future disciplines are complementary to mathematics.

Future articles and podcasts are planned all six of these future disciplines. If you are curious about fused AI-brain interface synthesis intelligence, please watch my main man Elon Musk:

Some say that the tension and relationship challenges between America’s four big castes–European Americans, European “Latino” Americans, Black Americans and Asian American–are driving low math scores for European Americans “AND” other Americans. One example is where thought leader Mark J Perry explores the possibility that tension between the European American caste and the Asian American caste are lowering American  mathematics performance. Excerpts of his article are reproduced below:

Here’s a little creative editing below of the Star Tribune article “Bipartisan bill to build Minnesota’s ranks of white teachers of color sputtered: Legislation added less than bipartisan backers sought to increase ranks of color whites”

.  .  .  .

Minnesota is increasing spending to hire and retain white teachers of color as the state struggles to close a persistent achievement gap between whites and students of colorAsian students (see chart above).

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a former schoolteacher, and legislators recently increased funding for the effort in the coming years, to $3.1 million more for various programs. But that represents an increase of only $299,000 from total investments of the last two years.

Advocates — who were seeking $80 million overall — said they were disappointed that lawmakers did not invest more to create a diverse teaching force with more white teachers to close the Asian-white achievement gap (see chart above). They said some of the additional funding approved will help retain minority white teachers, but ultimately it is not enough to increase the percentage of white teachers of color overall.

“We’re struggling just to move the needle one percent a year,” said Paul Spies, legislative action team lead for the Coalition to Increase White Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota. “The Legislature refuses to appropriate the money and make the policy amendments needed for systemic change to address the Asian-white achievement gap.

A growing body of education research shows that increasing the number of white teachers of color can help narrow the achievement gap between Asian students of color and their white peers. Teachers who reflect the students’ racial background are critical to keeping students engaged, in class and successful, researchers say.

Advocates lobbied the Legislature this year to fund a range of existing and new programs, such as student-teacher grants, scholarships for aspiring teachers, teacher-retention funds, expanded pathways to teaching careers and bonuses to entice white out-of-state teachers of color to work in Minnesota to address the achievement gap between white and Asian students.

In the end, a new program focused on retaining white teachers of color — who are already in the pipeline through mentoring, training and fostering racial-affinity groups — was awarded $1.5 million for the next two years.

Meanwhile, white teachers of color in Minneapolis and other school districts have formed white racial-affinity groups as an “informal” way to mentor and support one another, talk about difficulties and find ways to recruit and retain more minority white teachers to address the achievement gap between Asian and white students.

Many European Americans respond to low American mathamatics performance by saying that we don’t need to learn mathematics because mathematics is racist. I shared my deep meditative feelings (ananda maya kosha) and intuition (vijnaya maya kosha) understanding about the beauty of mathematics here:

Post Modernism (d)

Because many European Americans think mathematics is racist or otherwise not correlated to college, career and business performance, they are trying to prevent the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) System from using standardized mathematical tests to determine college admission. There is a high probability that the State of California will comply in the near future. If this happens, this would likely sharply increase the number of European American students admitted to UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego and sharply reduce the “people of color” or “minority” Americans admitted.

In my view this is dangerous for three reasons which will be elaborated on below:

  • If done in a nontransparent and misleading way it could increase American caste tensions between European Americans and “minority” and “people of color” Americans.
  • The vast majority of Americans students enrolling in college have been mathematically illiterate for some time. Many or most of these Americans students DO NOT learn math in college and suffer from admission mismatch. The results for American society in the long run are likely to be ruinous.
  • It avoids dealing with the main crisis–low mathematical literacy among American K-12 students. Especially disastrously low mathematical literacy among European Americans.

“People of color” or “minority” Americans will be the first to celebrate increased European American university enrollment and reduced “People of color” or “minority” American enrollment IF this is based on Yogyataa and Adhikaar (worthiness). However if increased enrollment is not based on merit, capacity and competence, the admitted students will suffer from admission mismatch. US Presidential candidate Andrew Yang (who I think the world of) warned that only 59% of European Americans admitted to college graduate. (About 72% of European Americans who graduate high school are admitted to college.) This is often disastrous for 41% of students admitted to college who fail or drop out with a lot of college debt and many years of their working life potentially partly wasted. I suspect that most of these 41% who drop out of college partly did so because of weak math preparation before entering college.

Another of America’s greatest problems is the soaring number of college graduates who are functionally illiterate in english and mathematics (where the standard for literacy in english and mathematics is extremely low). One of the world’s greatest thought leaders who embodies the merging of human heart with wisdom–Glenn Loury–explores this phenomenon:

Michele Kerr is a teacher in a tough Fremont California school.  She discusses the crisis in illiterate college graduates and unqualified teachers. [She has amazing ideas on how to improve K-12 academic performance that I think could be discussed in a future Brown Pundits podcast.]

Another reason American society as a whole should publicly acknowledge that most Americans who enter college lack mathematical literacy (causing high college drop-out rates and high percentages of recent college graduates who are functionally illiterate) is to  encourage humility on the part of college attendees in their interactions with non college attendees. Aside from very elite universities and stem degrees–does college attendance tell us much about mathematical literacy any more?

If European Americans want preferences at the expense of “minority” and “people of color” students in college enrollment, we should recognize that it is unlikely to improve American math literacy.  Having said this, we can try to minimize the damage to American mathematical literacy through transparent, open, explicit race based affirmative action that tries to minimize college mismatch. Preferences to benefit European Americans can be modeled after Bumiputera in Malaysia. Aside from the UC system and Caltech, most prestigious US universities employ a non transparent race based affirmative action. Race based affirmative action has sharply increased the number of European American students admitted and sharply reduce the “people of color” or “minority” Americans admitted because “people of color” or “minority” Americans academically outperform European Americans at the top right of the distribution curve. European Americans suffered less from preferential admission related admission mismatch because in these cases the universities could still sort out European American applicants who were not good in mathematics. Because of this, we would all be better off with race based affirmative action than going to a world where colleges were not required to consider mathematical performance in standardized tests. This would satisfy European American demands for more preferential treatment and increased college admissions. I think “people of color” and “minority” Americans would accept this if Universities were explicit in exactly how these preferences to benefit European Americans worked.

If America goes down the Bumiputera route, certain high academically performing “Asian” “European Americans” should be re-characterized as “minorities” and “people” of color so that that affirmative action benefits are concentrated to academically low performing European Americans. These high academically performing “Asian” European Americans would include:

  1. Jews
  2. Israelis
  3. Lebanese
  4. Iranians
  5. Armenians
  6. Azerbaijanis
  7. Russians
  8. Bulgarians
  9. Romanians
  10. Slovenians

[I would prefer a third option other than not considering mathematical performance for admission or race based affirmative action where European Americans were the primary beneficiary, but that is for another blog post.]

How to be good at Mathematics

I think the way to be good at mathematics is to fall in love. In this romance sometimes hours or days fall way as equations fall into place. We lose all external awareness. And then we find out a day has passed. When we come back to the world our body may have pain or bleeding  that we did not know.  It takes us beyond this world to music and dance . . . to an inner music softer still:

Mathematics is a pathway to what neuroscientists might call a nonsexual orgasm. Beyond gross thought. To goose bumps throughout the body where the hair stands on end.  Goose bumps up and down the back and with loving still sweetness in the brain A synthesis of the peripheral nervous system with the central nervous system perhaps? An awareness of many subtle parts of the brain and nervous system that always are but rarely observed. A slight observation of our autonomous nervous system? The parasympathetic nervous system begins a series of reactions. Our Vagus nerve slows our heart beat and breathing. Oxygen levels fall extremely low. Our glands start producing large quantities of endorphins and psychedelics (aushadi). A psychedelic high of drunk ecstasy as drops of bliss fall down:

Stanford’s Dr. James Doty (who we might interview) says that this resolves 80% of health challenges, sharply improving physical health, mental health and intelligence:

If we can meditate in action while doing mathematics vibhuti (spontaneous answers) come. If we can take tests this way miracles happen.

Mathematics becomes beauty. Becomes art. Patterns in patterns . . . a symphony.  Insightful concepts, products, process, academic papers flow unasked. The waves slow. The tanmatra of sight say some. Sacred geometries unlock. Spatial intelligence. General Intelligence or G increases:

Higher mathematics becomes possible. But I think this is only the smallest hint. Could G be a subset within a superset of deeper intelligence (Buddhi)?  If the brain and nervous system is a machine as Dr. Richard Haier believes, then the brain machine can be altered  in ways that transform our our big 5 psychological traits, unconscious brain, unconscious patterns, sensory inputs, preferences and subtle intelligences (Siddhis) . Ancient civilizations around the world have long explored the subtle intelligence (Siddhis) that meditation (electro-brain therapy) manifests. Mark Gober would say that meditation allows our brains connect with conciousness.

The education system needs to be transformed to increase mathematical competence, G (General Intelligence), deep intelligence (Buddhi), subtle intelligence (Siddhis), and connection with consciousness.

In addition to encouraging a lot more sports, exercise, stretching, breathing, music (brain sound therapy) and meditation (brain electro-therapy), America needs to:

  • fire a very large percentage of teachers and ask them to reapply. No one is entitled to be a teacher. The old saying that there are no bad students, only bad teachers is partly true
  • bring in large numbers of highly capable foreign teachers.
  • be willing to increase class sizes if we can’t find qualified teachers, maybe by a lot
  • hire special teachers for pre-school to 3rd grade who do not need to be literate in english and mathematics who can hug and serve as surrogate moms, dads and mentors for children who lack functional families
  • pay teachers a lot more where their pay is based on performance with no tenure pay
  • keep schools open from 7 AM to 7 PM including some weekend and holiday hours
  • hire idealistic tutors who do not have teaching credentials
  • implement strict discipline in disorderly schools and if necessary suspend and remove many children from schools
  • inspire through all 5 senses. Some neuroscientists speculate that we have 33 sensory inputs instead of 5 sensory inputs. If this is true, inspire through activities that integrate all 33 sensory inputs.

A series of other blog posts and podcasts are planned to elaborate on the above. Below are successful examples of how to bring in foreign teachers to teach American K-12 children math:

This next part is very hard to say. There is an ancient popular saying in the east:

Manusmriti 4.138:

सत्यं ब्रूयात् प्रियं ब्रूयान्न ब्रूयात् सत्यमप्रियम् ।
प्रियं च नानृतं ब्रूयादेष धर्मः सनातनः ॥ १३८ ॥

satyaṃ bruuyaat priyaṃ bruuyaat na bruuyaat satyamapriyam |

Truthfully (satyam) speak (bruuyaat); Sweetly (priyam) speak (bruuyaat); Don’t (na) speak (bruuyaat) truth in a way that is not sweet (satyam a priyam)

priyaṃ cha naanṛtaṃ bruuyaat esha dharmaḥ sanaatanaḥ ||

Sweet (priyam) untruth do not (cha naanrtam) speak (bruuyaat);

this (esha) is Dharmah Sanaatanah (Sanathana Dharma or eternal Dharma)

Many Americans have been intentionally speaking sweet untruth for a very long time about a great many things in an effort to be sweet and because they don’t want to hurt feelings. This makes it very hard to be truthful without completely and traumatic shocking many Americans.

To help others we need Yogyataa (worthiness), merit, capacity and competence. To use STE (spiritual transformative experience) terminology, we need physical strength, mental strength and spiritual strength to help others. Most people who try to help others lack this and inadvertently hurt the people they are trying to help. Many or most challenges and conflict in the world comes from people trying to help others and inadvertently hurting them. If we do not have physical strength, mental strength and spiritual strength it is enough to love others.

Krishna in Bhagavad Gita 18.25 warns “Anapekshya (disregarding) cha Paurusham (one’s ability) mohaad (delusion) aarabhyate (is begun) karma (action) yat (which) tat (that) taamasam (ignorant) uchyate (is).” Or when we disregard our ability out of delusion and begin action this is tamasic (or ignorant).

Love is not nothing. Love transcends thought and transforms our brain and nervous system. (Please read more about electro-brain therapy a couple paragraphs above.) Love helps us become better in math, improves our physical health, improves our mental health, increases our G (General Intelligence), increases our deep intelligence (Buddhi), increases our subtle intelligences (Siddhi), our connection with conciousness. Love increases our capacity, competence and merit. Love in time gives us the Yogyataa (worthiness) to help others.

To help others academically we personally need to be good at math. If we are not good at math, then we should love others with all our hearts, all our soul, all our minds, and all our might and step aside. Love gives us the wisdom and courage to not help and not suggest how others can help.

I think this is why one of the world’s greatest heroes, Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895), famously said in 1865 during his “What the Black Man wants” speech:

  • In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us… I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot box, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone, — your interference is doing him positive injury.

  • Let him fall if he cannot stand alone! If the Negro cannot live by the line of eternal justice, so beautifully pictured to you in the illustration used by Mr. Phillips, the fault will not be yours, it will be his who made the Negro, and established that line for his government. Let him live or die by that. If you will only untie his hands, and give him a chance, I think he will live. He will work as readily for himself as the white man. A great many delusions have been swept away by this war. One was, that the Negro would not work; he has proved his ability to work. Another was, that the Negro would not fight; that he possessed only the most sheepish attributes of humanity; was a perfect lamb, or an “Uncle Tom;” disposed to take off his coat whenever required, fold his hands, and be whipped by anybody who wanted to whip him. But the war has proved that there is a great deal of human nature in the Negro.

The wisdom of Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) applies not only to black Americans but to all poor people and all struggling people everywhere who are trying to learn math. I believe this only applies to people who lack Yogyataa (worthiness) to teach math. We should also try to inspire the small minority of Americans who are good at teaching math to help others learn math.

The example of Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) lit a fire that Booker T Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois grew into an economic and academic miracle of success and excellence. Black Americans dramatically improved academic performance between 1865 and 1938.  When  the US Army tested Americans from across the country to recruit soldiers for WWI the world was stunned learn that American blacks outside the south substantially academically outperformed European Americans who lived in the south. American blacks who lived outside the south also had substantially higher measured IQs than European Americans who lived in the south. Black wall street in Oklahoma was a mecca of excellence and achievement between 1906 and the 1920s. Most astonishing though was the outstanding performance of black Americans in Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech–New York’s elite high schools between 1900 and 1938. In 1938 Black Americans were represented in Stuyversant almost proportionate to the percentage of New York City’s population which is black. Or that black kids substantially academically outperformed non Jewish European American kids in 1938.  (Please read chapter 9: Mental Abilities in Wealth, Poverty and Politics by Thomas Sowell.)

It is hard to explain how extraordinary this was. This is 1938, long before the Asian economic miracle and the rise of nations all around the world. The US had almost half of global income and wealth compared to only one sixth today. New York was by far the most successful, important, rich, admired, professional city in the world by an ENORMOUS margin. New York had the largest pockets of excellence and achievement in the world with the best companies, the world’s undisputed financial center, best museums, best research and development, best schools, smartest people, best culture. Blacks kids were competing and winning with the best, hardest working and smartest kids in the world. Many of these children were Jewish–the smartest people in the world. [Full disclosure I am a complete total Judeophile.] To be in Stuyvversant in 1938 would probably put a child into the top 0.1% academically of all children in the world. This is the very right extreme of the distribution of performance. This is vastly more impressive than performance at the median, mean, or 75% or 98%. For so many black Americans to be in Stuyvversant meant either that blacks had a large standard error of performance or a high mean. I am betting on the second. Black American  must have been knocking mathematical performance out of the park.

Black Americans and the rest of us were inspired and lead by giants of men. Heroes such as Fredrick Douglas, Booker T Washington,  George Washington Carver, W.E.B. Du Bois. Leaders that belong to our entire species. May they inspire us as long as our species flourishes on this tiny earth (blue marble as the Native Americans call it). Their legacy lives through our continued excellence today.

Several paragraphs above we discussed how many believe that low American math performance is driven by tension and sub-optimal relations between America’s big four castes–European Americans, European “Latino” Americans, Black Americans and Asian American. I have read an enormous amount of literature and seen a lot of video content of academics and thought leaders making this case. The more I study their arguments, the less I understand what they are saying. I would like to steel man and present their arguments in a way that they would regard as descriptive, but I don’t understand them well enough to do this. Can anyone explain them to me in the comment section? Professor Wilfred Reilly finds that many or most of the supposed incidences of caste relationship challenges–also called “hate crimes”–either have not happened, or are ordinary crimes or are exaggerated. These “hate crimes” are incredibly rare and statistically insignificant.

My observation is that America’s big four castes deeply love and respect each other, intermarry and intermingle seamlessly . . . forming a beautiful unity in multiplicity of heart and soul. A symphony of grace moving towards synthesis. Beautiful, sweet and mysterious are the relations between America’s castes as the castes dissolve away.

I understand when Glenn Loury speaks of trans-humanism and christian charity. Because this is what I see. I understand when Kmele Foster (another of the world’s great thought leaders) does not see American caste or identify with the American caste of black American. This makes sense to me.  Maybe there are no castes at all.

Maybe the solution to our challenges, math and otherwise, are unrelated to caste. Do the phrases “minority” and “people of color” have no meaning?

Maybe we can all fall in love with math instead!

In the following interview, Glenn Loury and William “Sandy” Darity discuss the idea of “caste”–or “blackness”, “hispanic-ness”, “asian-ness”–having little meaning (5 to 10 minutes in):

Professor Glenn Loury–one of the world’s greatest economists has very considerately agreed to be interviewed by the Brown Pundits Podcast.  We will likely discuss education. Please send your questions for Glenn Loury.

We are also about the interview one of the world’s greatest thought leaders on socio-economic data, violent crime, hate crime, education and intelligence on Brown Pundits Podcast, Professor Wilfred Reilly. Hopefully we will be able to discuss how to improve mathematics performance. Please leave your questions for Professor Wilfred Reilly in the comment section:

Is there an interest in interviewing global heart-throb and male model paragon of male attractiveness Gad Saad and asking his perspectives on how to improve our capacity, competence and merit in mathematics? Please let us know.


American Caste (a)

American Caste

Published by


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Razib Khan
3 years ago

i think the term ‘caste’ in the american context really only applies to black americans, who have a specific and delimited history.

3 years ago

SAT is more studyable than people think. I went from a 1970 to a 2340 (800 W 790 M 750 CR) over about 50 practice tests and 2 years.

I know some formal data sets show this isn’t true. However, I saw time and time again, kids of all races go to certain SAT bootcamps run in NJ (often by strict Koreans, Jews, Chinese, or Indians) where one would be locked into a room over a weekends for a couple years and forced to learn and take practice exams.

I was an SAT tutor for years and the key factors to me seemed to be motivation of the student to understand underlying principles the exam was testing and how strong of a reading base the student had. The reading base was toughest to teach. The math was doable. The grammar rules on the writing were teachable. The formulaic essay they wanted was teacahable. The vocab was painful to do but flashcardable, especially via spaced repetition resources.

People like to jump to the “hur dur” racial IQ differences better fast. But there is more to it than that stuff.

Math can be painful at first to learn. Few of us liked the spanking we received, if we got a multiplication question wrong, even at 5 years old. Yes that isn’t true math, insofar as it is not mathematical thinking so much as it is memory, but even that stuff was critical when moving forward to making models and solving word problems. Math really builds on itself. A small early lack of interest or disadvantage can really magnify over time.

3 years ago
Reply to  thewarlock

“SAT is more studyable than people think.”

I did SAT, GMAT, GRE and LSAT test prep and I would agree with some important qualifications. Any honest test (as opposed to one rigged with impossible trickery, which tells us absolutely nothing about the test subject) can technically be learned and therefore “beat” if you will. But as you say the student has to be motivated to understand. A high raw g-level (“IQ” is actually the unitary measure of g via a test, and like all other g-correlated psychometric evaluations can also be learned) tends to be correlated with such motivation.

I do agree with your comments on math. I remember one bright IGO-employed Vietnamese young lady in for GMAT classes telling me before the first lesson that she “wasn’t a math person.” At the end of the session she came up to me and said excitedly, “I think if I’d had math presented that way earlier on, I’d have been motivated to go further with it!” Interestingly a lot of the techniques I taught for GMAT math were closely related to the hated “Common Core” math which encourages students to think about physical numbers and patterns and number properties.

Not that I support using common core in most elementary schools. I would like to say I did but in the real world it is impossible to implement on a large scale to salutary effect. If it is taught right it is an excellent methodology. If it is taught badly – and most teachers and books implement it badly – it ruins everything.

3 years ago

Most interesting to me are non Brahmin S Indians, a sizeable proportion of IT immigrants and their kids in the US, who happen to dominate as well as if not stereotyped as better than many of the big groups (ie Patels, Sikhs, etc).

They are a good wrench in some of the over simplified race IQ stuff. Granted, selection bias will always be questioned. But there seems to be no regression to the mean. On the contrary, their kids do better.

Jai Shree Ameen

Ali Choudhury
Ali Choudhury
3 years ago

US Asians came third. US whites came seventh and beat Japan and South Korea. I believe China doesn’t test a cross-section if students anf only allows good performers to take it so their high ranking is exaggerated.

3 years ago
Reply to  AnAn

I started at about a 700 in the 10th grade and a 650 in the other two. I did well on the Math 2 subject test (got a 780 or 800). I think it’s a more difficult and better test. Got around that on chem, bio, and US history subject ones. Took 13 AP tests and got 9 5s (macro, calc BC, bio, chem, US History, english language, and a couple others I don’t remember) and 4 4s (english lit, Spanish, micro, and world history- took latter two for fun with no studying for the hell of it because did well on the practice test I did for fun for both).

Otherwise, aptitude test wise I only took the MCAT. Scored a 36 (97th percentile) after 3 weeks prep (14P 10V 12B) but my practice scores hovered around a 37 (12.5 P, 12 V, 12.5 B). I was kind of mad at my verbal underperformance. I had a lot of art passages rather than science and econ ones. I do noticeably worse on art passages, probably because I never did much reading in that area.

Med school STEP exams are the opposite of IQ test. Heavy knowledge heavy licensing exams. Ended up at about 1SD above the mean (85th percentile) on both of those.

Never had IQ tested. We took a few IQ tests in school for gifted and talented program. I qualified for the middle school program, when I took it in the 5th grade. But I didn’t qualify for the elementary school one in the 2nd grade. No idea what their cutoff was. They never released scores.

My sister was really bad at the SAT and lazy student. I think she scored only a bit better than the national average (like mid 500s each section). She does better in college, especially biology. Shows you how much rote memory college bio is. I regret majoring in it myself. A ton of med school is rote memory too, but I knew that going in. Anki becomes your best friend.

3 years ago

Lots of facts and figures, along with some philosophy, which is excellent. One thing I would like to say is that ANY discussion which revolves around race, ethnicity or national origin is a non-starter. Identity isn’t a determinant. No race, group or nationality is inherently superior or more or less capable. Identity-based politics or examination of public policy is doomed from the start, because it is based on a false premise.

Behaviors are the differences that should be examined. These are not identity-based, they are simply behaviors. What behaviors bring good outcomes? What family behaviors? What societal behaviors? What educational behaviors? How can positive behaviors be encouraged while disincenting less successful behaviors? What is the role of government… in a free society… in reinforcing or weakening behaviors?

Education and learning are actions. They are things that require doing. If you do not read the book, you do not know what’s in it. You must do… or not do. Each is an action. The groupings described in the post are useful only in so far as telling you where to look for examples of successful and unsuccessful behaviors. If Asian students outperform anyone or all, then there are likely behaviors to be found that foster successful outcomes. It’s not about them being Asian. It’s about what they do to produce positive outcomes.

The author’s use of the New York schools and black performance is indicative; ability has nothing to do with identity. So what changed? It wasn’t their race. The root cause of success or failure is never identity. Look for root causes.

Identity-based discussion is derived from and feeds into the illusion of legitimacy for cultural Marxism. There are no longer peasants (caste) to rile up against the bourgeoisie (patriarchy) so the proletariat must be attracted from other sources. The necessary otherness must be based on something simple, easily recognizable and prone to resentment. Identity is that source. Don’t feed that animal in any way.

Look for root causes. Family dynamics, community support for or against educational values, access to information, availability of resources… all have impacts and are not determined by identity, but by behaviors. If a group of people that is recognizable exhibit better outcomes, look at the behaviors within that group that can be replicated, not simply the fact that they’re Asian, white, black or any other identity-based concept. Simply examine the successful behaviors versus unsuccessful behaviors.

So what you’ve accomplished here is to identify places to look for WHY some students are outperforming other students. It’s not inherent. We can rule that out because we know that to even think that way is racist. It’s because of things they are doing. Is it cultural? Is it familial? Is it a combination? What are they doing that inculcates good learning behaviors, the ability to study, encouraging further education and good work outcomes? Once you’ve figured that out, you perhaps have a hope of recommending public policy that could encourage the positive behaviors and disincent unsuccessful behaviors.

3 years ago

I mostly agree with your arguments. I think that the article summarizes the problem very well. What can we say? Everyone knows that math is the key to the success to the career advancement. However, not many white Americans don’t want to compete in the field. Of course they can thrive in sectors like law and business. However, when AI devours those jobs, can they still survive?

Lakia N Queen
Lakia N Queen
3 years ago

I’ve really enjoyed the article and agree with a lot that is being said here, but I would like to add that the argument about Black children being disadvantaged early on in their educational process is true.
In many school across the country, Black students are falling behind due to not being taught the foundational skills in math early on in their educational careers. I would say partly that some teachers are to blame because of there lack of knowledge as you mentioned, but I would also say that Black students are not being challenged and held accountable as much as other students from other races. In many cases, Black parents are not available (due to work or other or other obligations) or they too have never learned the foundational skills of math and they are therefore unable to support their kids at home when they are having trouble. Also, because a great majority of schools are under funded and teachers are underpaid, there are no other alternative classes for students to attend for them to get the proper training they need to learn. Lastly, Black students are lacking teachers and mentors that look like them, which makes it difficult for them to build rapport with people they have been either socialized to fear or hate and vise versa.
Finally, I would suggest that Black students (some, not all) are lacking both the desire and will power to succeed academically, especially in math. Kids are not motivated and they are not encouraged to do well because it is no longer regarded as something special to be an exceptional student or to dominate subjects such as math. There are so many more “important” things being encouraged through social media such as focusing on your physical attributes, or material possessions, etc, but no emphasis is really being placed on what it takes to afford those very things they desire, which is doing well in subjects like math and later getting a great job or starting a business to obtain these worldly possessions as well as the lavish lifestyle. It’s true that people in the US, not only Black students, are no longer in love with math. They no longer desire to discover the mystical world of numbers or to solve relative equations that often times relatable to their day to day life’s experience.

Brown Pundits