School of hard knocks: What worries smart girls most

 

Smart girls suffer a "fear of failure'' even when they beat boys at school, a new global study reveals.

The survey of 600,000 teenagers - including more than 14,000 Australian high school students at the age of 15 - shows that even the smartest girls lack confidence.

"Girls expressed greater fear of failure than boys, even when they outperformed boys in reading by a large margin,'' the report, released tonight, says.

"This gender gap was considerably wider amongst top-performing students.''

The study found that girls are better than boys at "conflict resolution'' and understanding other people's points of view.

But boys are better at adapting to new situations, even when under pressure.

Even the smartest girls lack confidence, the OECD found.
Even the smartest girls lack confidence, the OECD found.

The report also reveals that only 10 per cent of 15-year-olds can distinguish between a fact and an opinion, making it harder to detect "fake news".

"The smartphone has transformed the ways in which people read and exchange information,'' it says.

"In the past, students could find clear and singular answers to their questions in carefully curated and government-approved textbooks, and they could trust those answers to be true.

"Today, they will find hundreds of thousands of answers to their questions online, and it is up to them to figure out what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong.''

The report says artificial intelligence and computers need to be paired with human brainpower, social and emotional skills, as well as moral values.

"Education in the future is not just about teaching people, but helping them develop a reliable compass to navigate an increasingly complex, ambiguous and volatile world,'' it says.

AI and computers are changing the way we teach.
AI and computers are changing the way we teach.

The study also found that six per cent of students globally are "always feeling sad'', and one third are unhappy with their lives - a five per cent increase in just three years.

Teenagers worry most about school work, their relationship with their parents, and "the way they look''.

The OECD report calls on governments to "promote equity'' between poor and rich students.

"While students from well-off families will often find a path to success in life, those from disadvantaged families have generally only one single chance in life, and that is a great teacher and a great school,'' it says.

The 400-page report also shows that Australian teenagers are leading the world in welcoming immigrants, although few Aussie kids study a second language.

The OECD findings, released in Paris tonight, are part of the last Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test in 2018.

Originally published as School of hard knocks: What worries smart girls most


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