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Future psych majors

American 15-year-olds aren't so hot in science or math. In self-esteem, though, they're without peer.

December 10, 2007

We could focus on the latest worrisome news in education: the results of an international test released last week that show American 15-year-olds don't know much about science and are falling behind their peers in other industrialized nations. But why get depressed?

There is an aluminum foil lining: The test also found that our teens don't let their ignorance bother them. They may not know as much as students in Finland, Canada or New Zealand, but they think they do. When asked to rate their own scientific abilities, they put themselves at the top with their better-educated peers.

This is the real trend in American education. No one can match us when it comes to self-esteem. So what if American students ranked 21st out of 30 industrialized nations? So what if we're even worse in math -- 25th? We know what you're thinking: "Well, we're more ethnically diverse than those countries. We have more poverty. More immigrants." Sorry, the poor and immigrants and the ethnically diverse in other countries scored higher than ours.

Still, our students are blissful in their ignorance. Test analysts found that the less students knew about science, the more optimistic they were that the challenges of global warming can be overcome. Given the burden of their superior education, it's no wonder the French are so grumpy.

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