I was reading this article on Techcrunch which was a bounce back from an article by a Chinese Yale mom who said Chinese moms are superior because they frog march their children through A+ grades. My first reaction was to round up all these moms and put them in an asylum to detoxify them from ambition barking up the wrong tree….and let the kids out to play.
The bounce back article goes on to narrate some important traits of American kids
The second article I read was by Vivek Wadhwa, in Business Week, who said that Chinese and Indian engineering programs graduate several times MORE students than the U.S. but the quality of these students is generally much poorer than American students.
When I was in graduate school, I used to think arguments such as Wadhwa’s were just sour grapes from American students who couldn’t cut it, and their teachers who let them slack.
Then, I graduated, became a professor for many years and an employer. I see exactly the differences Vivek describes between American and many international students.
When I ask the latter questions such as, “If you were going to redesign programming language X, what would you do?”
They will tell me what X does in great detail but not answer the question.
American students are more likely to jump in with ideas about how to change X, replete with statements like “X sucks because…”
This inability to escape the pedantic response (“They will tell me what X is in great detail”) is something that I constantly face….
how do you build a space ship?
Page 67 of the space ship building manual says….
I sometimes have this crazy notion of walking into a university here and rounding up all the students frog marching them out and then razing the place to the ground and then requesting them to look at their subjects directly….without the filter of marks, salary, or anything else that worries them…tell them
don’t worry we’ll give you everything you want, no need to work for it, 5 star roti, designer kapda, hi fi bangla, a few crores in the bank for you to spend, a husband (or wife) or two, and enough kids to prove your fertility/viritly…. just please please look at the subject directly, ask questions, tear it apart, look inside it, ask why they’ve put together this concept like this, what other ways are their to assemble this same concept…is this interpretation of reality the correct one…
We need a deep, deep overhaul of our education system…our centers of learning (both east and west) are vocational institutes with fancy names…they equip the student with a title and a half baked set of skills to live and play in the world…
in the west their centers of learning are marginally better and the student can usually get a full set of skills…whats missing in the west though is the ability to peer behind empirical verities….this is something we in india excel at but the connection to that realm is muted by Platonic thinking…we need to rediscover that link…empirical interrogation needs a guardian angel….