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May 25, 2008

Comments

Eric Grant

1- Summarize Compton's argument for what is wrong with American schools when compared to schools in India and China.

Compton's argument in the film is that American schools do not place enough emphasis and ensure rigor for the study of science and technology; in the interview he adds the element of creativity, which is not really discussed in the film and is probably a better indicator of how well we are educating our students.

2- What was the nature of the evidence he provided? Is it convincing?

The evidence in the film is number of hours of study for each subject and the dedication of each student; in the interview, it is his own experience attempting to hire for his own companies.

3- Is there other evidence he could have provided? Is the evidence he provided balanced? If so or not, what questions are still apparent to you?

These are good data points but they ignore the more central question of what skills and abilities are relevant to each culture and most important in the future. I would argue that creativity is far more important than technical skills and that America still has a good lead in this area on a per capita basis. Technical skills are rapidly approaching the point of commodity, while creativity and the ability to work across disciplines are both the strength of American entrepreneurial culture and the most important leadership skills in an increasingly globalized economy.

4- What criticisms does Jay Matthews have of Compton's argument and film?

Matthews argues that only a very small portion of Chinese and Indian schools educate to the level shown in 2 Million Minutes. He also argues that Chinese political policies and Indian societal conditions limit creativity and entrepreneurship.

5- What sort of evidence does Matthews provide in support of his argument?

Very little; however, he wasn't given much of a chance because Compton jumped on his credibility fairly quickly. AH, THAT PESKY CREDIBILITY ISSUE...

My own Conclusions: BOB COMPTON'S CONCLUSIONS IN BOLD

- 2 Million Minutes uses a tactic of fear and a subject matter of global competition. THERE IS NO FEAR MONGERING - ONLY THE FACTS AS I SAW THEM AND EXPERIENCED THEM. IF GREATER RIGOR IN ACADEMICS DOES NOT RESULT IN ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE, THE U.S HAS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT.

- In an increasingly globalized and cooperative / interdependent economy, competition based upon national boundaries is an outdated concept. THEN EXPLAIN THE RAMIFICATIONS OF A 2007 TRADE DEFICIT WITH CHINA OF 251 BILLION. IS THIS A GOOD THING? WHAT DOES IT IMPLY ABOUT THE U.S. ABILITY TO CREATE PRODUCTS THE CHINESE WANT TO BUY?

- Science and technology are important subjects, but only as parts of an interdisciplinary curricula that takes place in and out of school. I AGREE AND 4 YEARS OF PHYSICS, 4 YEARS OF CHEMISTRY, 4 YEARS OF BIOLOGY AND 4 YEARS OF MATH - AS INDIANS AND CHINESE TAKE - COMBINED WITH THEIR COURSES IN LITERATURE, ART, WORLD HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, CIVICS PLUS THEIR EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES IN DEBATE, ELOCUTION, SOCIAL SERVICE, ETC SEEMS TO PRODUCE A WELL-EDUCATED, WELL-ROUNDED INDIVIDUAL. EXCEPT THEY CAN'T THROW A FOOTBALL OR SHOOT A JUMPER.

- U.S. institutions of higher learning admissions policies clearly reflect a preference for well-rounded students that show creativity and balance - and are therefore still admitting a far larger proportion of American students. OK - I UNDERSTAND THE CRITERIA NOW - WHEN CHINESE AND INDIANS OUTNUMBER CAUCASIANS, AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND HISPANICS IN OUR UNIVERSITIES YOU WILL CONCEED THEY MAY HAVE SOMETHING WITH THIS ACADEMIC RIGOR STUFF.

BTW - BERKELEY IS 40% ASIAN, STANFORD IS ABOUT 30% - THEY ARE GETTING CLOSE :-)

IF AMERICANS ARE MORE CREATIVE WHY CAN'T WE PRODUCE ENOUGH GOODS AND SERVICES THAT INDIANS AND CHINESE WANT TO BUY TO EXPORT MORE THAN WE IMPORT?

WE HAVE NOT HAD A POSITIVE TRADE BALANCE WITH CHINA SINCE MAO. I REALLY MISS MAO, NOW.

C. Stanley

I thought the comments from the students were, by in large, quite thoughtful. It was certainly a compliment to the school that so many students felt that they were getting a very good education. However, I was surprised that the school still used a paper and pencil approach to the assignment. These responses might have been easier to read in a wiki, from a survey, or perhaps on a blog. I am glad that the teacher took the time to scan the responses and mount them in a .pdf format, but I would think using a Web 2.0 application in the future might be a better way to share.

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