Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Thomas L Friedman

The more I cover foreign affairs, the more I wish I had studied education in college, because the more I travel, the more I find that the most heated debates in many countries are around education. And here’s what’s really funny – Every country thinks it’s behind.

Tony Blair has been fighting with his own party over permitting more innovative charter schools. Singapore is obsessed with improving its already world-leading math scores before others catch up. And America agonizes that its K-12 public schools badly need improvement in math and science.

I was just in Mumbai attending the annual meeting of India’s high-tech association, Nasscom, where many speakers worried aloud that Indian education wasn’t nurturing enough “innovators.”

Both India and China, which have mastered rote learning and have everyone else terrified about their growing armies of engineers, are wondering if too much math and science – unleavened by art, literature, music and humanities – aren’t making Indira and Zhou dull kids and not good innovators. Very few global products have been spawned by India or China.

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Originally printed in The New York Times - March 24, 2006