Comparing the Best Thinkers to Bill Gates and President Obama’s Common Core agenda

11 Oct

Harvard reports that The Best Thinkers Have 7 ‘Thinking Dispositions’, and they all require critical thinking and problem solving skills. Critical thinking is mentioned twice in the piece. Nowhere does the Harvard study mention the importance of high test scores in math, literacy or science.

Harvard says, “So if you want to be more inclined to critical thinking, you need to know what’s in your toolbox, just as Warren Buffett would have you do.”

There was also a photo of Bill Gates, and the photo’s caption says, “Bill Gates isn’t just a smart guy—he’s disposed to critical thinking.”

In addition, the Harvard report said, “Fundamental critical thinking is essential in business, and life, but is seldom seen on a college curriculum.”

Maybe it’s seldom seen on a curriculum, but in the public schools, teachers have focused on teaching critical thinking and how to solve problems for decades.  How else did 15-year olds in the U.S. rank 4th, and almost tie for 2nd and 3rd place, in the relative performance in problem solving on the 2012 International PISA test?

Yes, the International PISA test also tests for Creative Problem Solving: Students’ Skills in Tackling Real-Life Problems.  The same skills that led to the success of billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

However, the only PISA scores the profit-driven, corporate-supported, fake-education reformers focus on are the math, literacy and science rankings—areas that do not represent what the Harvard study revealed about the “Best Thinkers.”

But when we look at Finland, a country that the fake-education reformers often compare to the U.S. in math, science and literacy rankings, Finland does poorly in the relative performance in problem solving, and Shanghai, China, #1 in math, science and literacy on the PISA, was second to last in the relative performance in problem solving.

On the other hand, the Common Core agenda of Bill Gates and President Obama does not focus on critical thinking and problem solving.  Instead, the Common Core agenda would turn our children into robots who score high on bubble tests in math, science and literacy.

Remember, the U.S. is currently ranked #4 and almost tied for 2nd and 3rd place in the relative performance in problem solving, but Shanghai, China is ranked #42.

The PISA says, “As in other assessment areas, there are wide differences between and within countries in the ability of 15-year-olds to fully engage with and solve non-routine problems in real-life contexts. These differences, however, do not always mirror those observed in the core PISA domains of mathematics, reading and science. Just because a student performs well in core school subjects doesn’t mean he or she is proficient in problem solving.”

In conclusion, why do Bill Gates and President Obama—partners in the destruction of the democratic public schools—want the United States to be more like Shanghai, China?


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Book Cover Here

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves


Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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3 responses to “Comparing the Best Thinkers to Bill Gates and President Obama’s Common Core agenda

  1. Lloyd Lofthouse

    October 11, 2014 at 17:28

    Reblogged this on Lloyd Lofthouse.

  2. Scott Hadley

    October 16, 2014 at 17:27

    It’s important to highlight the ‘relative to what’ in the ‘relative performance’ ranking. The table in the report indicates that using the ‘core’ subjects as an indicator of problem solving skills may not be appropriate. The extreme ends of the table highlight countries where the correlation is least strong. They do NOT indicate strength (or weakness) in problem solving. It indicates that using the core subjects as a proxy for problem solving skills in those countries could be misleading. (Note that the countries that score high on math still rank higher than the USA on problem solving. This includes Shanghai China which ranks #5 in problem solving, and #42 in ‘relative performance’.)

    • Lloyd Lofthouse

      October 16, 2014 at 17:53

      Thanks for the comment, but the PISA test is misleading when we don’t compare apples to apples. For instance, in most countries there are two tracks for graduation from high school: vocational and academic, but the profit driven, corporate supported, fake education reformers in the United States will only compare the total number of high school graduates. The U.S. offers only an academic track, but in Japan, for instance, about only 70% of HS students graduate from the academic track while the rest graduate from the vocational track and go to work out of high school. In the U.S., about 80% graduate on time and by age 25 the HS graduation rate climbs to almost 90%—some, for whatever reason, just can’t graduate on time. The average HS graduation rate in the rest of the OECD countries is 75%.

      The U.S. also has a significantly larger population of children living in poverty than any OECD nation and the US tested too many students who lived in poverty on the 2012 PISA creating the same thing that happened with “A Nation at Risk” (1983) that the Sandia Report revealed several years later discovered was flawed and misleading and that means education reform that started in the 1980s under Reagan was based on lies and was unnecessary from the start.

      If we compare America to Finland and 20% of the U.S. students tested by the PISA live in poverty while in Finland less than 5% of students live in poverty, that will cause the average to be skewed. A better measurement is to avoid the overall average and look closer at the average of each of the six social class distribution levels.

      The Economic Policy Institute did that with the PISA and the results are shocking, surprising and impressive.

      For instance—a few pull quotes from the report:

      “Because in every country, students at the bottom of the social class distribution perform worse than students higher in that distribution, U.S. average performance appears to be relatively low partly because we have so many more test takers from the bottom of the social class distribution.”

      “On average, and for almost every social class group, U.S. students do relatively better in reading than in math, compared to students in both the top-scoring and the similar post-industrial countries.”

      “A sampling error in the U.S. administration of the most recent international (PISA) test resulted in students from the most disadvantaged schools being over-represented in the overall U.S. test-taker sample. This error further depressed the reported average U.S. test score.”

      “A re-estimated U.S. average PISA score that adjusted for a student population in the United States that is more disadvantaged than populations in otherwise similar post-industrial countries, and for the over-sampling of students from the most-disadvantaged schools in a recent U.S. international assessment sample, finds that the U.S. average score in both reading and mathematics would be higher than official reports indicate (in the case of mathematics, substantially higher).”

      This is a long report and there’s a lot of information here offering comparisons that pretty much debunk the use of the overall average as meaningless.


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