PISA, an international assessment of students, will be coming out with their results in December. American performance in mathematics is expected to stay disappointingly low. What's interesting about this year's assessment though, as Jo Boaler notes, is that PISA analyzed three distinct learning styles and corrolated them to performance. Those who memorize (and the U.S. has a concentrated number of those) performed the worst, often placing half a year behind those students who learn by relating a new concept to knowledge they've already mastered.
Boaler's article goes into more detail, highlighting scientific studies that showed how kids' brains actually light up differently depending on whether they are memorizing, or, well, thinking.