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Fisking on Global Education: Washington Post Jay-in-the-Box Edition

wind it... wind it... POP!

If your message fails, blame the medium – or otherwise go for semantics over substance.

That’s a fair charge for Jay Mathews’ latest WaPo-whine titled “Why I Am A TV Loser.”

You’ll remember that Mr. Mathews debated Two Million Minutes’ Executive Producer Bob Compton about a month ago. And if you’ve forgotten, or missed it the first time around, here’s a recap:

It’s apparently taken Mathews a good six weeks to get up the courage to seethe publicly.

There are two major issues here. The first is about his latest piece; the second is about the global economy/education. I think we’ve got to look at these one at a time.

From Mathews’ opening line, you’d think that he’d been shouted down by Malik Shabazz:

“Don’t ever go on CNBC to debate Bob Compton, one of America’s most energetic prophets of doom, without careful preparation and a willingness to be rude.”

One of the things that initially interested me in Compton’s film was that he wasn’t a “prophet of doom.” He and his associates don’t wear sandwich signs warning that the end is nigh, or that our traffic signs will be in Hindi in 10 years if we don’t shape up. Two Million Minutes is a sensible, realistic look at how we approach education in comparison to India and China. Reality, though, doesn’t get in Mathews’ way:

“I appeared with Compton on Erin Burnett’s show “Street Signs” in early June. He killed me. I thought we would have a scholarly discussion of American public schools. Were they, as Compton argues, losing out to the rising Indian and Chinese schools or were they, as I had written, needing help but unlikely to cause a collapse of the U.S. economy? I got a few words in occasionally, but Compton — whose enthusiasm I applaud, don’t get me wrong — interrupted, sideswiped and left me looking like I was incapable of completing a sentence.”

The tendentious implication that Compton’s contribution wasn’t “scholarly” aside, Mathews appears to have gotten his own television appearance wrong. Mathews was, however, “killed,” partly by his own sputtering ineptitude, partly by Compton’s spirited argument.

And really, Jay, if that interview was the harshest, most rude encounter you’ve had in your 37 years at the Post, you’ve had a Hell of a gentle journalistic career.

99.99%+ of Washington Post readers haven’t – and won’t – see the interview in question. They’ve got to take him at his distorted word. You, dear reader, can watch the video and judge for yourself.

Mathews attempts to re-frame the debate for his unknowing readers. It was Compton’s “enthusiasm,” not evidence; it was his fascist, tour-de-force aggression, not the swift rebuttal of Mathews’ useless arguments. Again, watch and draw your own conclusion.

“That was, of course, exactly what he was supposed to do. It was cable TV, for goodness sake. Discussions there are supposed to be fast and loud. Compton tells me he thought he was being aggressive, not rude. That’s not the way my mother would see it, but I agree with Bob. I just wasn’t ready.”

The debate was your standard splitscreen talking-head matchup with the occasional full shot. But this was CNBC, and Erin Burnett isn’t Jerry Springer [though a love triangle or paternity test would have been that unexpected cherry on top].

Mathews got beat because, as he said so gently about himself, he “wasn’t ready.” And though Mathews’ mother would apparently scowl at the treatment of her little boy, I think mine would’ve found his drubbing a fairly unremarkable result considering the mismatch [my mother tends to value the substance over semantics].

Thankfully, the whining stops:

“I interviewed Compton and responded to his film twice, in a Feb. 11 column and in a piece in the spring issue of the Wilson Quarterly. I confessed I, too, was distressed to see, in his film, Carmel High’s Brittany Brechbuhl watching “Grey’s Anatomy” on television with her friends while they were allegedly doing their math homework.”

Since we’re all being honest here, I should disclose that I’m watching re-runs of “Charmed” as I allegedly write this.

“Many economists argued, I said, that our social, political and economic freedoms, not our education system, make us more productive and creative than other countries. I said Compton, an admittedly mediocre student at James Madison High School in Vienna and Principia College in Elsah, Ill., exemplifies the point. His energy and imagination found the room they needed to prosper in this country which, I said, “gives even B and C students more chances than A students in China and India have.”"

This is the second time, curiously, that Mathews has mentioned Compton’s academic “mediocr[ity]” without referencing Mr. Compton’s Harvard Business School pedigree.

“”I tried to say this on CNBC, too. But Compton cut me off, saying I obviously didn’t know what was going on in Asia because I have never been to India and haven’t visited China (where I was once The Post correspondent) since 1989.”"

This is a terribly important point, and it’s one I held off from writing about the last time I fisked Mathews because I was fairly certain he’d give me another opportunity.

It isn’t always necessary to engage in something or to witness something firsthand in order to know it. If either of those two were requirements for knowledge, we’d have no way to study history, or a host of other disciplines, with any degree of certainty.

I can’t get in Bob’s head, but I assume that he was suggesting that Mathews visit India and China because his information was, in Bob’s assessment, inaccurate. If your information isn’t solid, the most efficient way to acquire better information is to go get it yourself. This is why our most earnest politicians visit Iraq and Afghanistan to meet with our military commanders [and it's also why other politicians posture with these visits].

“Vivek Wadhwa, a high-tech entrepreneur teaching at Duke University, has shared with me some of his research, and his occasional e-mail exchanges with Compton. Wadhwa, like Compton, is a successful businessman with a first-hand grasp of the difficulties American companies have finding engineering talent. He tells both sides, supporting Compton on some points and criticizing him on others.”

Mr.  Wadhwa appeared in Two Million Minutes and has written recently about global education. In May, he wrote “US Schools: Not That Bad.” If I could fund it independently, I’d invite Mr. Wadhwa to do a speaking tour in upstate New York where he told taxpayers burdened by ever-rising school taxes [oddly enough, in the face of decreasing enrollments] that they should relax because, after all, their local schools aren’t “that bad.”

BusinessWeek couldn’t get enough of Mr. Wadhwa; they published his piece, “What the US Can Learn From Indian R&D” just this week. Its implications for this debate are clear, but there is one facet directly related to public education: Wadhwa’s latest article sweeps so broadly that it reminds me of those gigantic brooms a custodian uses to clean an entire hallway in one pass.

“What is happening in India and China is that private companies, not public school systems, are doing the training that is producing the technical elite building those economies, Wadhwa said. If U.S. corporate leaders such as Bill Gates, he said, are worried about losing to competing nations, they should do more as executives to train their own workforce. “All they are doing now is to blame our teachers and put the burden on our children,” he said.”

This is partly accurate – private companies in India and China are making up for the public school’s shortcomings [we'll get to the truth about that next time]. It also misses the point; we aren’t just concerned with our economic success, as we may be able to shore that up privately as Wadhwa claims. We have to be concerned with bleeding anywhere from $7k to $25k in per pupil expenditure – a significant factor in local taxes in some areas – and seeing little benefit for students or their communities.

Wadhwa is wrong, though. Some of us blame principals as well.

“I hope I am in better shape if Compton and I have a rematch.”

Doubt it.

“But whatever the outcome, it won’t mean much. I encourage scholars and journalists living China and India to further examine those economies and education systems and give us something more than two-week-visit impressions.”

Touche, Mr. Mathews.

“Personally, I think prosperity in other parts of the world is good news. It means happier people with more choices. It may even mean more freedom and less war. Compton and I agree that would be a good thing.”

I hasten to point out that the German higher education model was excellent; that’s why we modeled our universities after theirs. Despite this, Germany was the aggressor in two World Wars that left about 90 million dead.

If one wasn’t sure why I had to split this up into two posts, there you go – what started as a whine and a moan ended up as a third-rate college admissions essay about how better education will end war.

We’ll handle that other issue – the arguments re: Indian and Chinese businesses and how they cope with the education of their hires – next time.

Your Principal Probably Isn’t Very Sharp

responsibility? WAHHHH!

A hearty thanks goes out to the National Association of Secondary School Prinicipals for advocating less administrative responsibility for their members. The less they do, the better – until we start making better administrators.

From Flypaper:

Richard Flanary, the director of professional development services for the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP for short), who was quoted in Thursday’s Education Daily (available to subscribers only, of which I think there are about 74) responding to John McCain’s call for greater authority for school principals:

“Certainly we support greater spending autonomy, but there needs to be more clarity on the criteria on which principals make these decisions. Principals already  have very busy schedules, and I would hate to think that they would get caught in a situation where they are the purveyors of funds.”

Yes, that would be terrible for the managers of large organizations (in this case, high schools) to “get caught in a situation” where they are responsible for making funding decisions! But why stop at schools? Someone should alert the private sector that it’s stressing out its managers by expecting them to manage budgets. After all, managers already “have very busy schedules.”

You get the point. This is the primary lobby for high school principals, and it’s lobbying against giving principals more authority.

The NASSP is a funny bunch – that they’re the “primary lobby for high school principals” is the truth. The rub is that they’re absolutely awful at it, and in any given month, the NASSP exposes more about the inadequacy of administrators to lead our schools than any education advocate could do in 10 lifetimes.

I excoriated the NASSPismires re: Two Million Minutes, a film about which they issued a useless, ill-conceived rebuttal that embarrassed public education in the United States. This time, as Flypaper points out, they’ve done it to themselves.

And, of course, I agree with them. The average secondary school principal has the mathematics skills of the average 10th grader in my county. Why, then, would anyone want them messing around with money?

Before you write me a nasty, pseudo-scathing e-mail, remember: I’m not saying that all principals roam the halls unburdened by academic knowledge. There are very good, accomplished principals who know both management and scholarship, and there are terrible ones. That’s the way distribution goes.

So… if you’re a principal reading this and your mouth is starting to froth, relax. You’re probably not the one who can’t pass a trig test, it’s just every other principal you know – right? Right?

These charges aren’t speculation, either [page 19 of PDF]. One thing principals, taken as a whole, can’t do is math. They do beat out librarians/archive scientists, social workers, and those who declared “other” Social Science majors.  Even the English Lit. majors stomp them by 20 points on Quant.

From ETS’s GRE page, a summary of the Quantitative section of the exam:

Quantitative Reasoning — The skills measured include the test taker’s ability to

  • understand basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis
  • reason quantitatively
  • solve problems in a quantitative setting

Again, the average 10th grader in Otsego County, NY can thump the average principal in our nation in a head-to-head math matchup. [If you're really curious about the Quant section of the GRE, check out a practice test.]

The NASSP won’t address this glaring inadequacy. They won’t release a statement on it, they won’t make a push to raise the academic achievement of their principal core, and they won’t try to recruit higher-achieving students to become administrators.

The only debate here is the question of where, exactly, their heads are – stuck in the sand, or stuck elsewhere [hint: their heads, apparently, aren't stuck in books].

I received an e-mail a few days ago about some research into problems with high school principals; they’re canvassing principals to find out about the “problems HS principals face.” I’d be more than happy to go over some of those problems with them, because God knows the NASSP won’t say a word about it.

UPDATE at 8.11pm, July 22:

To further demonstrate how badly out of touch the NASSP is with its own professionals’ inadequacy, the front page of their website has a piece called “The Elephant in the Room.”

That “Elephant?” No, not the total inability of most principals to write coherently and do math beyond converting fractions to decimals.

The “Elephant in the Room” is, of course…

… “Unauthorized Use of Staff Computers.”

Are You Smarter Than a Third World 10th Grader?

It isn't pass/fail, folks.

You’re invited to take the Third World Challenge:

Referred to in India as the “ICSE Standard X exam”, the assessment is taken over several days and tests the students’ proficiency in math, chemistry, biology, physics, world history, English literature, English grammar, Hindi or Sanskrit and geography. In a nation as advanced as the United States, shouldn’t American 10th grade graduates be as proficient in these subjects as students in the developing world?

Really, you’ve got to take a few of these tests, or at least skim through them. If you’re an American educator who believes in our academic superiority, it may open your eyes a bit.

I’m not a Doomsday guy, I haven’t given up hope, and I don’t think the end of public education in the United States is nigh. I do, however, think that there are things we can learn from other systems across the world – and the first step is to familiarize ourselves with curricula and practices in India, China, and others so we might compare them to our own.

Here’s the full release for the Third World Challenge – I seldom reproduce things in full on this site, but this one does an exceptional job making the case for why we ought to be looking far and wide… and with open minds.

Are You Smarter Than a Third World Tenth Grader?

Free online challenge exam allows participants to test their knowledge against Indian tenth grade final exams

(ASPEN, Colo. – July 1, 2008) Bob Compton, executive producer of the documentary film Two Million Minutes, announced today the release of the “Third World Challenge” powered by IndianMathOnline.

The Challenge is available to all who are interested, free of charge, and is based on the national tenth grade proficiency exams taken by students in India. It is now available on the Two Million Minutes website at www.2mminutes.com and at www.indianmathonline.com.

The Third World Challenge was developed as a result of the widespread American belief that the academic standards in the U.S. are higher than those in so-called developing countries, such as India and China. An advocate of the need for educational improvement in the U.S., Compton felt individuals should see for themselves how they compare to a global standard of education. “I personally do not consider India or China to be ‘Third World’ countries, because I have been to both countries and have business interests in each,” said Compton. “However, when a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education commented that America has nothing to learn from ‘Third World’ education systems, I just had to create this Challenge.”
Referred to in India as the “ICSE Standard X Exams,” this assessment is taken over several days, testing the students’ proficiency in seven subjects. Four exams are compulsory: English literature and grammar, Hindi or Sanskrit, a combined exam on world history, civics, and geography, and environmental education. Two exams out of nine possible choices are in the area of math, science (chemistry, biology, physics), economics, computer science, agricultural science, etc. Most students aiming for top-tier colleges typically take math and science.

Finally, the student must select one exam of a dozen subject exams ranging from computer applications to performing arts to fashion design to yoga. “To be crystal clear, not every high school offers classes for every subject. With 50% of urban Indian students attending private for-profit schools, there is competition among schools to offer the curricula Indian parents seek – and most Indian parents want rigorous English, math, and science curricula because that gives their child the best shot at a great college,” said Compton.

“There’s a global standard of education out there, and American students are falling further behind that standard every year. That’s dangerous for both the student and for America because the new industries and the best jobs of the 21st century are going to go to the best educated,” said Compton. “So I decided to bring a sample of the ‘global education standards’ to Americans, providing them the opportunity to see first-hand how a “Third World” country measures its students’ academic achievement.”

In most high schools in India, a 10th grade student can pass on to the 11th grade if he or she has proficiency in at least five of the seven subjects on the Standard X Exams.  However, the country’s most highly regarded high schools require complete proficiency in all seven subjects before they push on to 11th grade. Most of the exams require writing expository or explanatory essays with very few multiple-choice questions. The Standard X Exam is a pivotal point in students’ lives and is largely indicative of what careers they’ll ultimately be able to pursue. When college graduates in India are interviewing for jobs, they’re often asked to provide their scores on these exams.

“Only a few short years after the completion of 10th grade, American students will be competing for jobs with students from all over the globe,” stated Compton. “It seems only reasonable that in a country as advanced as the United States, our students should be competitive at the 10th grade level with students in the developing world.”

The Third World Challenge is powered by Indian Math Online, which is an online math assessment, learning and practice system centered on the student and monitored by the parent. It is based on Indian national math standards and permits the student to accelerate his or her learning or do remedial work while allowing parents to monitor their child’s progress and quickly identify areas of weakness.

“The Third World Challenge we are offering is a sampling of the actual Standard X Exams which everyone in India, including myself, had to take as a 10th grader,” stated Suresh Murthy, president of Indian Math Online. “It’s about the equivalent of America’s SAT test, only longer with more subjects and in-depth questions and with few multiple choice questions.”

The Third World Challenge offered on the site was made entirely multiple choice so it is simpler to grade and is more objective for Americans. Sanskrit and Hindi are also excluded from the US version.

Please visit www.2mminutes.com or www.indianmathonline.com to take the Challenge. Good luck!

About Two Million Minutes

Titled Two Million Minutes, this documentary film takes an in-depth look at secondary education in the United States as compared with India and China and examines the implications this may have on the U.S. position in the global economy during the 21st century. Two Million Minutes is currently screening across the country. For more information, please visit www.2mminutes.com.

About IndianMathOnline

Indian Math Online is a web-based learning system developed with the principles of mathematics as practiced throughout the Indian education system. These principles include: Start Early, Test Frequently, Practice Continuously, Build Steadily, Involve Parents Actively. By following these steps, children in grades K-12 will learn mathematics in a way that is challenging and proven. Assess, Learn, Practice, and then, Assess again – all based on a solid, stable math standard. That is our simple process for ensuring that children become proficient in the most important language of the 21st century – MATHEMATICS! Please visit www.indianmathonline.com for more information.

Fisking Jay Mathews on the Global Economy and Education, Part 2: Analyzing Creativity

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Back to the task at hand.

Fisking Jay Mathews on the Global Economy and Education, Part 1 started a look at the recent debate between Bob Compton, Executive Producer of Two Million Minutes, and the Washington Post’s Jay Mathews.

John at the AFT’s NCLBlog called it a “cablicious babblefest,” which I can only assume is a mashup of “cable” and “-icious.” It sounds better when said aloud than it looks in print.  I like it.

And John is right that the debate left him and others “know[ing] less about the subject than I did before.” That’s what you get when one side [or both, as happens frequently on cable] presents terrible arguments.

Time to pick up where I left off in sorting out Mathews’ Mess.

“In order to get jobs, in order to get effective jobs, you have to be creative.”

I think that by “effective jobs,” Mathews meant to say “high-paying jobs.” If he really meant what he said, then I know a lot of people he’d willingly label as having “ineffective jobs.” If they only knew how useless their lives were!

Here’s a top-20 list of the highest paying jobs in the US [as ranked by BizJournals]:

  1. CEO
  2. Physician/surgeon
  3. Dentist
  4. Lawyer
  5. Aircraft pilots and flight engineer
  6. Engineering Manager
  7. Securities and commodities sales agent
  8. Computer and information systems manager
  9. Marketing and sales manager
  10. Optometrist
  11. Pharmacist
  12. General and operations manager
  13. Natural sciences manager
  14. Computer and information scientist
  15. Financial manager
  16. Computer software engineer
  17. Public relations manager
  18. Announcer [radio/TV]
  19. Purchasing manager
  20. Industrial production manager

Some of these professions, of course, are more creative than others. I want my PR firm to be creative; I want my airline pilot to stick to the protocol he’s given. I want my lawyer to win my case even if it means inventing an untried legal strategy; I want my pharmacist to exercise little creative license in the distribution of my medication.

You get the picture.

These 20 jobs all depend on creativity to an extent. At the least, creativity comes into play on the personnel side. A surgeon might specialize in just a handful of procedures that he repeats, but there’s more to his job in addition to those few hours a week when he’s holding the scalpel [though flawless repetition of procedures and various administrative duties are the meat and potatoes of his success].

But all of these jobs – every single one of them, from 1 to 20 – require the mastery of basic skills, with about half requiring stringent professional certification. You might have all the creativity in the world – and we know that CEOs, lawyers, and financial managers do some wildly creative stuff that reaps professional rewards – but if you’re an aspiring financial manager who can’t process data, you don’t become a financial manager.

You pass Organic Chemistry en route to becoming a surgeon.

You pass a multitude of physics courses en route to becoming a computer software engineer or an engineering manager.

You pass through a host of language/literacy-related training to become a successful marketing/sales manager.

And if you can’t get through the basic training required for each of these “effective jobs,” you never get the job in the first place.

Consider the series of commercials running in the northeast [maybe nationwide, I don't know] for TimeWarner Cable in which several normal people relay their ideas for phone/internet services. They explain the creative ideas they’ve brainstormed – “make the calls less expensive,” or as this YouTube video shows, “I had an idea: video on demand. Movies at the touch of a button.” Well, to the actors’ shagrin, TimeWarner offers those services now, and these folks lament that their idea was stolen.

It’s a 30-second bit of comedy. We see creative types without any means to act on their creativity; we see the company that has successfully produced the same ideas. That creativity means little without a foundation of skills is such an obvious thing that this series of commercials presents it as universal humor that everyone can understand.

Well, almost everyone, it seems.

Creativity can separate the winners from the also-rans, but creativity isn’t what gets you into the race. Creativity has a real impact when it’s on a solid foundation of skills – and little impact without that foundation. Mathews is worried about the proverbial cherry on top; Compton is worried about the rest of the sundae.

The crux of the argument here between Compton and Mathews is about the base skills required to compete in an industry [Compton] and the unique qualities necessary to rule that industry [Mathews]. Mathews is right when he intimates that the next Bill Gates is more likely be an American citizen than an Indian citizen – the odds are with that argument when political and social factors are involved.

But Compton’s next 200 programming hires aren’t likely to be from the United States – he’s not alone here in searching for competent, skilled college graduates and left wanting – and those are the numbers that add up.

Here’s a bit from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s remarks at Harvard a few weeks ago – courtesy of Mathews’ Washington Post. In describing research on the American economic surge of the 1990s, Bernanke said:

“One key finding of that research is that, to have an economic impact, technological innovations must be translated into successful commercial applications. This country’s competitive, market-based system, its flexible capital and labor markets, its tradition of entrepreneurship, and its technological strengths–to which Harvard and other universities make a critical contribution–help ensure that that happens on an ongoing basis.”

Food for thought.

Fisking Jay Mathews on the Global Economy and Education, Part 1

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Suggesting that someone has to experience something firsthand to understand it – or to believe it, or get it, or recognize it – is usually folly. They can know without having been there, and having been there doesn’t guarantee knowledge. Standard stuff.

But if you haven’t done it, if you haven’t been there, you’d better be able to craft solid arguments and defend them when you’re up against people who have. Evidence for your case and against your opponent’s is a necessary thing.

If you can’t handle your side of the debate, it’s time to collect some evidence firsthand.

Last Friday saw Two Million Minutes Executive Producer Bob Compton debate Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews on CNBC’s Street Signs with Erin Burnett. If you haven’t seen it, watch the video or read my transcript.

Compton opened with testimony about his hiring woes. He simply can’t fill six-figure Java programming positions here in the United States. Mathews countered:

“Well, there is indeed a teeny slice of Chinese and Indian schools that are educating kids at a very high level – and that’s good, the more middle class Chinese and Indians we have out there, the more customers for American goods.”

Compton left the following comment on my post about the current economic gap – a marked trade deficit – between the US and both India and China:

“Does he [Mathews] realize the US has a $14 BILLION trade deficit with China and a $1.3 BILLION trade deficit with India? That means we buy more Chinese and Indian goods than they buy American goods…

… To add insult to economic injury, China has loaned the US $150 BILLION by being the second largest buyer of Treasury securities.

And China recently stabilized Morgan Stanley’s balance sheet by buying 10% of the firm for $5 BILLION.”

The trade deficit is much larger than that, but the point remains the same. We’ve got the short end of the stick.

Mathews would also do well to acknowledge that as he was squirming on CNBC, his colleague at the Washington Post, Maureen Fay, had a front-page piece on that outrageously unfettered aspect of the Chinese economy: knockoffs and piracy:

“For years, China has been known as the leading exporter of fake goods, from Louis Vuitton handbags and Patek Philippe watches to auto and jet engine parts. The underground economy, which according to U.S. trade officials costs American companies $3 billion to $4 billion annually, has been allowed to flourish by a Chinese government that seldom prosecutes intellectual property violations.”

Those Chinese consumers, Mr. Mathews, are quite happy to ignore our intellectual property laws. The hasty, largely-ineffective crackdown cited in the Fay piece is a result of the Olympics – China pockets 15% of legitimate, licensed sales of Olympics-related merchandise. Not a bad gig.

And after the Olympics? Well, China just needs a little time, it says. And it’s true – developing, implementing and enforcing effective intellectual property rights/laws doesn’t happen overnight. That swell of “more customers for American goods” doesn’t help the American economy when one guy pays $18 for a DVD and then burns 1,000 copies to sell for a few bucks each on the streets of Beijing.

Mathews, however, has discovered the real problem here: creativity. It’s creativity that runs the American economy, not them thar book smarts:

But Bob is suggesting that our country is going to Hell in a handbasket if we don’t improve the schools because schools are the key to the economy and we’ve proved over the last several years that it’s not our schools that produce our great economy, it’s people like Bob. Bob will tell you himself that he had a pretty bad education, didn’t do very well, didn’t apply himself, but he’s a smart, creative guy, once he got into the American economic, social and cultural system, he went bananas.

Not our schools that produce our great economy? Uh oh, Jay – you’d better not let any of those darlings on your Newsweek list hear you.

Now, I haven’t gone back to verify this – I’m just working from memory here – but I believe Mr. Compton holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, an institution that Mathews is happy to characterize as part of a “pretty bad education.”

If you’re unfamiliar, Jay, fear not – you don’t even have to dial out for this one. Just call up WaPo’s Peter Carlson, who described Harvard Business School a scant three weeks ago as “the mecca of capitalism.” If I remember right, Mr. Compton was near the bottom of his class, but no matter – it’s a fine place for graduate study.

And not everyone thinks that we’re doing a terribly good job with creativity:

“When you start working with teachers, tapping into their creativity, then you start designing curriculums [sic] that tap into the children’s creativity.”

The implication there is that we do nothing with creativity in our schools but stifle it [NCLB, ya know] – we stifle it for the teachers and for the students. Mathews says that we’re so saturated in creativity that we don’t even have to worry about India and China competing with us.

Maybe Jay Mathews should call up presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama, who said the above words a day or two ago, and help him alter his stump speech re: creativity.

And if you’re not sure why this creativity business matters, Mathews explains:

“In order to get jobs, in order to get effective jobs, you have to be creative.”

I’ll have to stop there for now – it’ll take me another day to figure out the difference between a “job” and an “effective job.” I’ll just tap into my innate American creativity skills!

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