Outclassed: Can U.S. Education Compete in a Global Market?

Friday 4 April, 2008

I attended this Chicago Council on Global Affairs event Outclassed: Can U.S. Education Compete in a Global Market? My original concern was that given the 2 speakers were locals, that they would defend their vested interests & simply defend US education to the hilt. Thankfully they acknowledged our problems & gave perhaps too much credit to our competitors throughout the world. Although the US did come out 25th out of 30 OECD countries in student assessment, some in each state do well. It was telling to me that a graduate student from India pointed out that US schools are strong in providing critical thinking skills & that is a strong differentiator.

We need to change the conversation to beyond the economic competitiveness goal. There is no direct correlation between test scores & GDP. School science is not real science. Learning is not a mechanical system, but we have organized it as such. We also must move beyond fact memorization to emphasize effort & work. Americans need to respect teaching & teachers.

We are navel-gazers somewhat in that we are obsessed with #’s. 1 of the speakers produced a copy of Life magazine pointing out that we were being accused of falling behind communist Russia’s educational system. It was from from 50 years ago to the day.

Q&A: They get that we get what we design & have too many silos. Like business, education needs to leverage partnerships. While charter schools do foster innovation, privatization & No Child Left Behind are not the answers because we’re not ready to outsource yet & need to teach towards more than passing a test. We teach too widely & not deeply enough. Our classroom materials can lead change. Asians concentrate on fundamental principles-we can learn from them in this regard.



  1. Les & Mary,
    Thank you for your comments. In response to Mary’s question, what I believe the speakers were referring to was that the science taught in classrooms today has little applicability to the real world, & thus is knowledge is learned (simply memorized?), & then discarded. What’s needed is more teaching of the scientific process (hypothesis, test, confirm/refute…) in real world settings. Dissolving sugar in water doesn’t teach much until you learn that dissolving lemonade mix, which contains sugar, into water gives you something you like to drink. I’d like to extrapolate more, but I didn’t add much more in my notes. Thanks again.

  2. Dear Michael,
    I appreciated your summary of the ideas presented at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs event. I especially enjoyed your comment “We need to change the conversation to beyond the economic competitiveness goal”. This seems to ring true in so many ways.
    Ms. Minkus’ response (which I also enjoyed greatly) stating that 60% of kids in pre-school will work in jobs that don’t even exist today really enhances the notion that the US must be open to new ideas about education…..teaching children not only to learn how to “learn” well – but also how to live well…and to be open to seeing their futures from a variety of perspectives – not just from an economic viewpoint.

    I would like to hear more about what you mean when you say that School Science is not real science….compelling statement!

    Mary Kelly
    Adjunct Faculty
    National-Louis Iniversity

  3. Dear Michael: In response to your April 4th article entitled ‘Outclassed: Can U.S. Education Compete in a Global Market?’, education doesn’t start or end with schools and teachers! It is a process that starts with kids, dads, moms and educators working together.
    Moms and dads are their kids first teachers, and in most cases, the role they play is crucial to each child’s future.

    A child’s brain is substantially developed by time they are 5 years old, and the early learning skills and abilities they develop cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically are the basic foundation to their future. Due to the rapid changes in technology, 60% of kids in pre-school today will be in jobs that don’t even exist today. So, one of the most important things we can do for our kids as parents and educators, is to provide our children with the best basic skills we can give them for learning so they can compete in whatever job they may have.

    At KidsDadsMoms.com we believe that in the USA not enough kids reach the college level to benefit from higher critical thinking skills. Also, not enough emphasis is placed on the importance of early childhood skills and the direct impact matching each child with the right learning tools has on his/her learning experience. Interpreting, processing and retrieving information are critical skills and abilities that are highly dependent on the source of that information. With the right tools, a child can flurish, with the wrong one’s, they can loose the window of opprotunity and selfworth due to frustration and disappointment.

    Children need an appropriate balance in areas of cognitive, social, emotional and physical development and parents and teachers need quality resources so their children can achieve a well rounded balance. KidsDadsMoms.com welcomes the opprotunity to provide that resource for parents and educators of average, gifted, learning disabled, handicapped, exceptional or challenged children ages infant to 14 years old.

    Leslie S. Minkus
    President and CEO
    847-949-4556 (o)
    847-927-0856 (c)

    ‘Educated kids are good for the world, and KidsDadsMoms.com is good at educating kids’

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: