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February 17, 2008



Good Day, All...

I am still wondering why it is SO imperative that we keep up this competition. If it is to be number one...then, we are the proverbial cats chasing our tails.

This "best-all-comers" mentality can be applied to whatever topic one decides to choose, be it cultural, educational, economic or otherwise.

The type of change needed to improve our society, as a whole (not: "keep up or catch up") begins in the individual household...the brunt of the responsibility cannot be placed on the educators and/or teaching institutions, alone...

This includes changing the attitudes of Americans that have been formed over generations...no easy task, I assure you.

I will also restate my sincere belief that the reasons for this type of cultural/educational change needs to be more than 'keeping up with' someone or -thing...folks have to instill that desire to learn and excel (that hunger, if you will) not because they need to "keep up" but because the lives of the children (and adults) will be better served if these mind sets are introduced and made the flourish. This will benefit all parties and organizations concerned...from bottom to top.

It's a complicated situation made even more difficult and puzzling due to vague negatives, generalizations and cultural "under and over-estimations".

I commend your efforts but I caution rash opinion-making because true action is required to reform or overhaul a system that has been in place for so long...


Anand Pandit

I just saw an article in Indiana Business Magazine about your movie today and, I must say, I'm impressed. The entrepreneurial mind-set must be brought into primary and secondary education, as it is in the collegiate system, in order for the US to successfully compete internationally.

I really would like to see this film. Please tell me where I can get obtain it--I might even give a copy to our superintendent here, who in his first year is making some fantastic changes to our school corporation.

NOTE FROM BOB COMPTON: The DVD may be purchased at www.2Mminutes.com


Being an IITian from India who has since migrated to the US- I have first hand exposure to the competition portrayed in the movie.

I was having lunch with a buddy of mine from mainland China one day and talking about the future of our ABC (American Born Chinese) and ABCD (American Born Confused Desis) offsprings- which prompted me to do some online search and I discovered the movie.

I ordered the movie to watch with my 10 year old daughter. I wanted her to hear it from somebody else that education was important even though from her viewpoint, it doesn't make much of a difference in life. I knew I couldn't instill in her the sense of hunger that I had as a kid and still do as a first generation immigrant- but wanted her to understand why she needs to push herself even though it may seem pointless at the time.

Having watched the movie- I am disappointed. The "consequence" is described by "experts" talking to the camera. The 4 kids in the movie from India and China didn't get what they wanted as their first choice in college, despite all the work. The 2 US kids got what they wanted or better. The irony was not lost on my 10 year old.

The consequence or crisis due to lack of competitive education is not just external- we live through it right now in the US. I have looked at average income based on educational attainment (check the US census site) and compared with average living expenses. Add in savings for retirement. That picture is shocking. Only folks with professional education, or a doctoral degree can afford a single income family and have enough money to live and save for retirement. This currently represents 4% of the US population. Economic globalization is lowering the floor on the remaining 96%. But bottomline- even now, 96% of us are forced to make choices in life that are triggered by lack of educational attainment.

Without the context of consequences, the movie fails to get the primary point across- despite warnings from "experts" that the system is broken, there is no proof shown, on the contrary- based on the kids' experiences, the current system is working just fine for American teenagers.

Rupa Krishnamurthy

I haven't seen the movie yet, I've only heard the WBUR interview with the producer, but I'm excited to watch it when it comes back to Harvard. My parents are Indian immigrants, coming to the States in the 1970's where my brother and I were born. I'm an ivy league educated physician at one of the Harvard hospitals. My brother received his PhD from Harvard in chemical biology and now works for a consulting firm. I definitely believe that the emphasis my parents placed on education growing up, had everything to do with the success that we have accomplished academically. My father went to IIT (the engineering school that Bill Gates says is the best in the world) and my mother is also a physician. This debate resonates with the numerous debates we had in our household - should we pursue liberal arts education, or science, etc. But, I don't think emphasizing education, necessarily has to be at the expense of creating well rounded individuals. I was captain of my tennis team, state president of NHS, and eventually won a leadership scholarship to Duke, all with the blessings of my parents. I do think one important thing they were strict about was dating - neither my brother nor I were allowed to date until we were 16, my mother as a psychiatrist, believed it was important for us to form our own self-concept, concentrate upon our schoolwork and our friends, before getting invovled in relationships. I kicked, screamed and fought this edict when I was young, but now, I am extremely thankful for it. I think if more American teens are directed in such a manner by their parents, that they will have more success - and i'm not saying that no one should date until they're 16, but the importance assigned to education was within our household, and not necesarily in the school system. It requires a cultural shift in America. And, this is not to say that we need to emulate the school systems in India or China - I truly believe that I'm a very balanced individual because I was born and raised here. But, there's a reason that Asian-Americans occupy a much larger percentage in the elite colleges and graduate schools than their populations in the U.S.


I am American Homeschooling parent and while I don't exactly take exception with the movie 2million minutes, I have found the title and concept within itself unrealistic. 2million minutes is roughly based on every breathing moment of a students life from the moment he finishes the 8th grade until graduation. No child, Chinese, Indian, or otherwise spends that kind of time in his studies... still I get the point. As I mentioned in my blog post(Did anyone do the math?) I think the real problem in schools is unrealistic expectations. Kids need time of focussed learning as well as time to be kids.


It will be interesting to conduct a study of 2 million minutes spent by Americans of different heritage. I bet you that the Asian Americans tend to allocate their time much similar to the Chinese and Indians.

Mark R. Williams

I think this documentary is great and illustrates how our educational system and our students (I don't take the tack that all the blame lies with the educators) are failing. We need to wake up because you can be sure that brain power, science, math, and technology are the four things that drive a successful and prosperous society. I think the main thing is we need to put more emphasis on science and technology classes and less on other subjects such a history, english, sociology, etc, which are good subjects, but fields that are hard to find everyday jobs in unless you teach them. I have German friend and we may also need to adopt a system more like theirs. They seek and seperate the kids interested in technology and science careers around early high school age and these kids are put into seperate schols or systems with emphasis on science, math, and technology. I think we are also doing a disservice to those kids who may not want to go into those areas, but view themselves getting into trades or other more blue collar work when they graduate. According to my German friend these kids are put into programs to learn these trades so when they graduate high school they are ready to go into these fields and make a good living instead of our system which seems to give kids a good general education, but not one suited to going right out and getting into a field right after high school. These are the kids you see floating along, living at home and working at fast food or retail when they are 19 or 20. We also need to de-emphasize sports and social clubs as these take away kids time from studying. PS if I was president all TV broadcasting would end at 7 pm. No TV-smarter people and smarter kids and a happier and more prosperous society

John Hunter

Thanks for saying what has to be said. I have talked on similar themes on my blog for awhile now. The USA is definitely losing its relative position as the clear leader for science and engineering excellence.

The debate now whether we are willing to invest more today to slow the decline or whether we are willing to risk the economic future where our centers of science and engineering excellence are eclipsed quickly.

There is a long lag time that has allowed us to coast for the last 30 or so years. The reality is that most Americans suffer under the illusion we are in the same position we were in 1970's. We are not and it is obvious to me that the economic impacts are starting to have dramatic effects now and it will only increase.

It might be more pleasant to explain why the USA is fine the way it is but that is a mistake. For more on my thoughts see two categories of the Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog:



and 2 posts



Paul Vogelzang

Great job!
We watched, as a family, the GMA interview this morning, and promptly ordered the DVD :)
Our 14 year old, a HS Freshman here in Northern Virginia, actually agrees 100%, and he believes he's not being pushed enough, but is just working up to the required level.
Let us know how we can help...we produce the MommyCast podcast, and would be happy to share, interview, etc...(certainly not why I wrote you, but we're believers!)


There is no question that Indian and Chinese schools do NOT have garbage like proms, 'home-coming queens', and the overt sexual atmosphere that pervades American schools. But the American society wants this culture to blossom since it makes business sense to sell a few things around prom time. Most Indian and Chinese schools concentrate on one thing alone, education - why this is rocket science is beyond me - while the US kids worry about their drugs, garb, trinkets, their nails or whatever trivia they can think of while singularly forgetting that education is what they come to the school for ! Hence, against this background/culture and moral values and lax educational standards in this glorified 'developed nation', does it shock anyone that every high school grad over there beats these pampered and overweight kids to pulp in every international educational competition ? No wonder those guys now have most engineering jobs too ! This is no coincidence. Computers and the web have only made this even more apparent but those kids were far better even in those old days. Why is this a shock ? Education here is a joke.

Rod M

It is remarkable to me to that many educators in America today are so insulated and defensive. It is no secret that our education system is hurting, but the NEA and groups like them consistently push out propaganda that suggests otherwise.

While I am no expert in education (my two Masters degrees not withstanding), it is not rocket science to any casual observer that we are in trouble... and the next 10-20 years will see dramatic change on the global front.

When I see the kind of work high school students do, and look at the papers 1st and 2nd year university students produce, I shake my head.

If this film does nothing but to awaken the creativity and drive that characterized this country in years gone by (ie. Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation"), then it will have served its purpose. That said, its the parents AND the educators that need to get their collective heads out of the sand and see what's coming.

So... all you high school principals (or should I just say the unions that "represent" you)... get your act together, stop being so unilaterally dismissive, and see what we can do to fix it!

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