A continuation of the TWO MILLION MINUTES documentary film, this blog offers deeper insights into education in China, India and the United States, and the challenge America faces. Now you can join a dialog about what governments, communities and families should and are doing to best prepare US students for satisfying careers in the 21st century.
a globalized world, but that doesn't mean we all live the same. Take
high school students in the U.S., China and India. Different worlds.
A new documentary takes the two million minutes of high school life and compares them -- in Indiana, Shanghai and Bangalore.
a little shocking to see. Bright American kids on Xbox and after-school
jobs, studying almost as an afterthought. Chinese and Indian kids at
the books by 5 a.m., obsessed with science and math and exams and
making it. This is up-close and amazing.
This hour, On Point: High school, three ways -- India, China, and the USA.
Bob Compton, venture capitalist and executive producer of the documentary "Two Million Minutes"
Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Neil Ahrendt, a freshman at Purdue University studying computer graphics, he's one of the students featured in the documentary
Vivek Wadhwa, a technology entrepreneur who's founded two technology
companies, he's a fellow at Harvard Law School and executive in
residence at Duke University. He joins us from New Delhi, where he has
been studying the education system.
No wonder many refer to "Fox News" as "Fox Noise" - regardless of your view point, they will report what they "decide to report". Earlier today, Fox News' anchor Greg Jarrett interviewed (it would be generous to call that as an Interview) Two Million Minutes' executive producer (Bob Compton) on the documentary film. Needless to say, in the first 90 seconds of the interview, Greg cuts off Bob and begins to espouse his views on what the film SHOULD say, instead of doing the noble (isn't Journalism considered Noble?) task of simply asking the questions and let the guest respond to the question(s).
I do not want to imply we (the producers and co-producers at Two Million Minutes) cannot be challenged on our views or the concept behind the film. However, if you invite a guest to come on the show and respond to questions, it is MORE THAN JOURNALISTIC COURTESY to give the guest a full hearing on his/her responses. It is absolutely rude to simply interrupt and espouse your views.
That is why many refer to "FOX NEWS" as "FOX NOISE"! Shame on you Greg Jarrett!
Greg - if you have the guts to read or listen to our views, get out of your comfy anchor chair and get on the plane and visit India or China and see for yourself. We are simply suggesting there is global competition and that parents/US schools should take note. What is wrong about that?
PS: If you are wondering who I am - I am one of the co-producers of the film. I was born and raised in India. In addition to maintaining a high-academic standards, I was the captain of my school's Soccer and Cricket teams. I was admitted to my bachelors' program as part of a Cricket scholarship and I played at the Junior State level. I have started several high-tech businesses since migrating to US. So, the idea that Indians' are one-dimensional is FLAT WRONG. Maybe Greg can take a page from his boss - Mr. Murdoch (an Australian) on who is more creative !
Bob Compton and Senator McCain met for about half an hour to discuss the state of US education. During the meeting, we screened a portion of the documentary film for Senator McCain. I found him to be very engaged on the critical issues confronting the k-12 education system and interested in the strategic implications for the US of the rising economic competition from in India and China.
I'm are encouraged that Senator McCain appreciates these issues and will include the knowledge shared in Two Million Minutes as his team considers overall education policy making.
South Carolina Public TV has an educational arm that interviewed me for their "Ready To Vote" student web site. I talk about what motivated me to make Two Million Minutes and what I see as the challenge America faces.
I posted a reply to their blog, but it must be approved first by the principals before it appears on their site. In the interim, here is my response:
As the creator and Executive Producer of Two Million Minutes, I thought I might offer a few comments to this post.
First, I'm sorry that you felt the film was biased. Both the Director and Producer of the documentary hold Master's degrees in Journalism from Berkeley and we took every reasonable step to make the film as objective as possible.
Ironically, the largest buyers of the DVD on our web site are, in fact, high school teachers and principals - they seem to be using the film to help their students become more globally aware in a Flat World.
To address your specific criticisms: We did not "stack the deck". The three schools were chosen for these reasons: 1) they represent the upper echelon of high school education in each country and 2) the families of the students have relatively similar socio-economic backgrounds.
The specific students were selected as follows: 1) we asked the administrators of each school for students academically in the top 5% and 2) we also asked for students who were held in high regard by their peers.
In America, Neil is class president, was on the varsity football team, on the school newspaper and got a full scholarship to study Computer Graphics at Purdue his junior year of high school. Brittany graduated #28 in her class of nearly 1,000, was involved in numerous school activities and was seen as a leader. She is currently 4.0 pre-med at Indiana University.
In China, the boy chosen was ranked #1 in math in his school - something that his peers in China regard highly. However, as the movie shows, despite his obvious math skill he was rejected by the Math Program at Beijing University - because so many other Chinese students were even more gifted in math. He did not get into the college of his choice.
The same is true of the Chinese girl - she is smart, a talented violinist and ballet dancer, but she was rejected by Yale - her first choice.
The Indian students experienced the same outcome - they are clearly smart, have studied incredibly hard for years, but they are rejected by the top Indian colleges - because thousands of Indians scored higher on the entrance exams.
So, while the intensity of the Indian and Chinese students may, to American eyes, make them appear to be tops in their country, in fact, they are far from the top.
I have spent a lot of time in Indian and Chinese schools, as well as American schools. I would contend that the work ethic you see is entirely accurate for all three countries for the upper half of typical high school students.
Your observation about engineering. In hindsight, I regret I did not devote more time to the other subjects that Indian and Chinese students study in high school. In fact, they study subjects typical of American schools - for example Apoorva, the Indian girl in the film, had the following curriculum in 9th and 10th grade: English language, English literature, Hindi language and literature [2nd language], World History and Civics, World Geography, Algebra, Geometry, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Programming (elective).
In 11th and 12th, she chose a more technical track, not dissimilar from Brittany's interest in preparing for pre-med: English Language and Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics through Calculus, Biology, Computer Science and Environmental Education (a newly required course). During middle school, art and music are standard subjects as are more social sciences.
I employee over 100 Indians and Chinese - engineers, business majors, teachers, artists and general administrative people. From my personal experience, I have found both cultures to produce very well rounded individuals - smart, creative, socially adept, with wonderful senses of humor. They are also excellent in math and science, but they are decidedly not simply "left-brained" nerds. For their ages, they do know more about math and science than their American peers, but that knowledge has not been gained at the sacrifice of literature, history, geography, politics, art or music.
Finally, you assert that I used "statistical slight of hand" by not showing Chinese and Indian dropout rates. There is only so much one can cover in 54 minutes, but my intent was not to deceive.
Below are the current enrollment statistics on each country. It is true a large percentage of Indians and Chinese do not even get to high school. But their absolute numbers are so large that a high drop out rate still leaves a lot of students getting an education. I'm not sure America can take much comfort in Indian and Chinese drop out rates.
ENROLLMENT IN EACH COUNTRY -
US: K-8 - 38 million students, H.S. - 16 million, College -17 million
China: K-8 - 170 million students, H.S. - 24 million, College - 16 million
India: K-8 - 176 million students, H.S.- 35 million, College - 8 million
I'm sorry you took my film as critical of American high schools - that was not the intent. Rather I had hoped to show how students in each country allocate their time - between school, study, sports, extracurricular activities and jobs.
What the film illustrates is that students allocate their time very differently in each country based mostly on families, community recognition and their culture - not simply because of the school system.
The question I hoped to raise with the film was - does it matter to America's economic future that Indian and Chinese students spend more time building their intellectual foundation than American students? We tried to show the simple reality in each country, and then let each viewer draw their own conclusion.
I hope U.S. educators will view Two Million Minutes as an opportunity to gain insight into the educational priorities and practices of the two largest countries on Earth and not as criticism of American high schools.
The Piton Foundation in Denver assembled an impressive group of leaders from government, education, business and the community to screen Two Million Minutes. Bob Compton opened the meeting and following the screening, he then moderated an all-star panel in discussing "What Should Colorado Do in the Face Rising of Global Education Standards."
Panelists - pictured from left to right: Ray Uhale, Director of Workforce Skills for National Center of Education and Economy Dwight Jones, Colorado Commissioner of Higher Education Jack Neumeyer, Chairman & CEO of Sage Investment Holdings John Barry, Aurora Colorado Superintendent Barbara O'Brien, Colorado Lieutenant Governor
Jay Mathews, Washington Post Staff Writer, has written an article on Two Million Minutes. You can read the full article here.
That said, some of his observations need to be challenged. He states -
think the Chinese and Indian threat to the American economy is a myth. I have
been convinced by economists who argue that the more prosperous they are, the
more prosperous we are, since they will have more money to buy our stuff."
While it is difficult to quote the exact numbers, let us look at the number of high technology jobs that have moved to countries like India, China (and eastern Europe). First it began as moving the "routine" jobs overseas; next came the "creation" (research and development of new products/ new technologies) of new jobs in India; and the most recent trend - Venture Capital and Private Equity investing in India. With the increased flow of capital, many hi-tech entrepreneurs are returning to home land (such as India and China) and beginning to create companies, products in those countries.
Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese are determined to compete for these jobs. My own experience is that it has become a lot easier to do business with these countries in the last 5+ years. To dismiss these types of phenomenon as "myth" is over simplification.
Yes, Mathews is correct in suggesting "they will have more money to buy our stuff". However, the process of building products for a market like India or China is not such an easy proposition. One needs to understand these cultures and market intimately to be successful in selling the products - in my many years of traveling to India, I have not come across many products that have the label "Made in USA".
A quick glance at the brand of cars that are on Indian roads - typically they are : Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, BMW, Benz and a number of local brands. Only in the last 6 months, I have started to see the traditional American brands such as Ford and Chevy. This is not to say, American brands cannot be successful - it is an example of America embracing Global Competition a little late and a realization that these are markets we could sell our products.
Another point made by Mathews is -
I told Compton that his own early life -- as an undistinguished student at James Madison High School in Vienna and at Principia College in Elsah, Ill. -- showed that accelerated lessons in school were not necessary for the kind of success he has had.
Things were different when Bob was in high school - we are talking 25+ years ago - a lot has happened since that period - proliferation of Internet, a flattening world in which access to talent and capital is a flight or two away (and affordable), proliferation of communication methods (mobile phones, VoIP, Video Conferencing). The pace of economic development, intensity of competition and globalization is at a much higher rate than it was 25+ years ago. There wasn't a need to benchmark against 'global standards' 25+ years ago. Things are different now - one cannot lay claim to a particular job as "this is American Job".
The next generation of "Comptons" will be produced in high schools and colleges around the 'globe' - not just in US. If the central argument in Mathews' article is "America is doing fine, we don't need to benchmark ourselves with the rest of the world", then it seems to me that we are in a 'denial' mode.
Maybe, Mathews should make time to visit India and spend a few days in the high school classrooms, visit with some of the companies that are being created. The threat to the American economy might not be so "mythical", after all!