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Why Do Americans Stink at Math

As a mathematics student, I have often wondered why Americans struggle with math. The article “Why Do Americans Stink at Math” from the New York Times Magazine provides insight into this question. The article discusses the reasons why Americans, as a population, have difficulty with math and how this can be addressed. The article begins by noting that many Americans have difficulty with math, citing statistics from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which show that the United States ranks below average in mathematics compared to other industrialized countries.

The article discusses the reasons for this poor performance, noting that there is no single cause but rather a variety of factors that contribute to the problem. One of these is the American educational system’s focus on memorizing facts and equations rather than understanding the underlying concepts. This approach typically results in students who can solve simple problems but need more skills to tackle more complex ones. Additionally, the article points to the need for teacher training in mathematics, which can lead to the use of outdated teaching methods and the inability to provide students with the individualized instruction they need.

The author also argues that the lack of support for math teachers in the United States contributes to the country’s poor performance in the subject. Many math teachers in the United States need to be adequately trained and are often not provided with the resources and support they need to be effective. This can lead to a lack of confidence and expertise among teachers, which can, in turn, impact the quality of instruction that students receive.

The article also discusses the cultural attitudes towards math, which can be seen in the United States, and how they can impact student performance. For example, American culture often emphasizes the importance of creativity and imagination while undervaluing the importance of math skills. This can lead to a lack of motivation among students, which can further impede their ability to learn math. Additionally, the article notes that many students view math as a solitary pursuit, which can lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of connection to the subject matter. The article concludes by suggesting a few ways to address the problem. For example, it advocates for the use of more engaging and interactive teaching methods, as well as more individualized instruction. Personally, the use of interactive teaching methods makes me more active in class, and I can also remember the concepts taught easily. With interactive methods, mathematics will become simpler and more enjoyable.

Additionally, the curriculum should be designed to emphasize the importance of problem-solving and critical thinking rather than merely memorizing facts and equations. Finally, it argues that cultural attitudes towards math need to be addressed and that students should be encouraged to view math as a collaborative activity and an opportunity to work together towards a common goal. Overall, this article offers an in-depth look at why Americans seem to struggle with math and provides concrete suggestions for addressing the problem. It is clear that math education needs to be improved in the United States and that students need to be provided with the necessary tools to succeed. With proper instruction, motivation, and support, American students can become more successful in math and improve their performance in this important subject.

Work Cited

Green, Elizabeth. “Why Do Americans Stink at Math?” The New York Times, 23 July 2014, Accessed 10 Dec. 2022.


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