I have now screened "Two Million Minutes" live to just over 100,000 Americans and had fiesty Q&A sessions after each screening. Surprisingly, every time it goes like this:
1-DENIAL - this is the first reaction, from the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to the wealthy parents at Menlo-Atherton High School. Despite the data, Americans have to deny that our kids are falling behind the rest of the world academically. America spends $668 Billion per year on K-12 education - and our kids fall further behind every year? Can't be. I deny it!
2- ANGER - shoot the messenger, Bob Compton. Hate him, argue with him, berate him and disparage his global experiences, motives and knowledge. Ideally be "scathing and lengthy" in your angry critique (see Tucson Prep School Headmaster Jonathon Martin's Blog - http://bit.ly/Bitter_Competitor)
3- BARGAINING - OK, maybe our children are falling behind in math, physics, chemistry, biology, world history, geography, English grammar and foreign language, BUT American kids are more creative, innovation and they have more fun and are happier. So, they will be the ones creating the "fun" "entertaining" products the world will want to buy. They will be just fine. Whew, that was close.
4- DEPRESSION - what if Compton is correct and Americans don't have a divine right to be the most creative and innovative? What if the industries of the future - alternative energy, gene therapy, environmental remediation, green-tech, clean-tech, etc - require math and science knowledge to which one adds their creativity? What if being creative without being well-educated is not enough? OMG - my kids are doomed to be poor!! Pass the Cymbalta bottle, I'm chugging it.
5- ACCEPTANCE - wait...when I truly step back and dispassionately look at the Two Million Minutes films, listen to what Compton says and study the economic data - I think Compton may have revealed something serious - a real threat to my children and America. Our education must improve NOW!!
6- WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW - to help my children? To help all American children?
Answer coming soon.