Those that have read my blog know that I do get on my soapbox from time to time about the state of education in the United States. I can't help but be concerned about the future for America's young adults. Too many students are not opting to stay in school to continue their education. If U.S. students continue their lack of motivation in pursuing an education, I can't help but be gloomy on America's place in the 21st century as a world leader.
Taking a different viewpoint, BusinessWeek recently posted an article on academics in the United States stating that U.S. schools are not doing that bad. The schools could be doing better, but they're not terrible. The article uses the Two Million Minutes documentary as its backdrop. The BusinessWeek author points out that academic performance doesn't always dictate the success a person may have in the world of business.
But things aren't as dire for U.S. students as they might appear in the documentary. As an academic, I have been researching engineering education and have taught many graduates of Indian, Chinese, and American universities. It can take longer for Indians and Chinese to develop crucial real-world skills that come more easily for some Americans. Yes, U.S. teens work part-time, socialize, and party. But the independence and social skills they develop give them a big advantage when they join the workforce. They learn to experiment, challenge norms, and take risks.
The author though does acknowledge that global competition in academics will continue to put pressure. It is how America uses it's strengths (entrepreneurship) and overcomes its weaknesses (academics) that will tell if America will remain a global leader in the 21st century.
Nevertheless, I am fascinated by the videos and interviews available via 2mminutes.com . The documentary compares the academic and social lives of students in the United States, China, and India. I only hope it becomes an eye opener for students, parents, and teachers before it is too late to change the path that many of our young adults are on right now.