Your Child Will Never Compete In The Global Market Unless You Do This

by Vincent King · 35 comments

The global marketplace is expanding at a phenomenal rate. Yet, the American education system is moving at the pace of molasses to meet the ever-changing needs.

Presently, the United States sits at the top rank of the world’s economy, but it isn’t a comfortable position. By 2020, everything may change – emerging markets are set to become a pivotal part of global economics, and China is on track to tackle the US and take the top spot from our fumbling hands.

What does all of this mean?

It means that if our education system doesn’t change with the times, our children will no longer have the ability to compete with the strength we once had in the global market.

1. Competition will be stronger

2. The dollar will be weaker

3. Unemployment will be higher

But what can we do about it?

Educate, educate, educate.

Until something is done about the American school systems, nothing will change. But rather than wait on public policy (which usually takes years if not decades to change), smart parents can take their child’s education into their own hands.

This doesn’t necessarily mean home school, at least not in the strictest sense of the word. A supplement to organized education could give tomorrow’s leaders the foothold needed to succeed today. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, and could offer your child the edge they need to hold their own as financial and geographical boundaries continue to bleed into each other.

Here is a quick look at the areas where our children need the most reinforcement in order to become successful competitors in the global economy.

1. Free thinking

The US education system does not encourage free thinking. We teach that there is only ONE way to skin a cat – exactly the sort of thinking preventing students from truly excelling. Many parents have recognized this problem and have started taking their student’s education into their own hands.

It is many of those students who are proving to be the forward-thinkers American entrepreneurism desperately needs.

Sandi Krakowski, a millionaire mompreneur, has successfully home-schooled three boys. Her youngest has become a wunderkind businessman because of it. Tomorrow’s entrepreneurs will be the kids who learn to think freely, and look outside the box for global solutions to international business problems so they can create the business models of the future.

2. Creativity

The US education system is working hard to stomp out creativity. Students in the classroom aren’t encouraged to think “differently” or to be unique. Teachers are working so hard to spoon-feed answers and teach rote memorization, rather than teaching creative problem solving and concept mastery. This means students are busy memorizing without understanding.

This isn’t the teachers’ fault, but it is evidence of the broken system they’re required to run. Supplemental homeschooling will give your student additional opportunities to learn and grow beyond the SmartBoard. Their new creative skills will serve them well when it comes to future business.

Being able to solve global market problems in new and innovative ways will give your child an edge above the ever-increasing global competition.

3. Expertise

The US education system wants “well-rounded” students who do well in many areas, but prevent them from becoming a true expert in any. Even undergrad college level education pushes the “Jack of all trades” mindset. Yet those students who find their niche early, then master it, are the ones who often become most successful.

Think about it, do you want a well-rounded doctor, or a doctor who knows everything there is to know about his field? Pliability is an ingredient to success, but it’s niche-specific mastery that makes you better than your competition. In international schools, children are tested early to know where their true talents may lie. Then, they are directed to those courses that are most suited for them. These are the cultures who successfully groom their children for entrepreneurism. And it’s those children who are best prepared for the new global economy.

By grooming your child to think freely, to be creative and to drive them toward one field with a supplemental homeschooling education, you can prepare themto love learning, excel in one area, and compete in the global market in a way that makes them invaluable to those seeking the precision of their skill set.

How to provide supplemental homeschooling without exhausting yourself or your child

1. Make learning an every moment activity. You don’t have to create worksheets, labs or hands-on activities for every day (although, one day a week may be enough). Look for ways to turn even the ordinary into a chance to learn.

2. Talk to your child. Discuss topics and get them thinking. Let them solve problems on their own and accept their solutions to the problem without voicing your own restrictions on how they should do it.

3. Encourage hobbies (and even entrepreneurism) in their areas of interest. Encourage your child to stick with them until the end. And don’t promote multiple activities. Constantly changing hobbies and activities is part of the Jack of All Trades ideology and won’t lead to niche-mastery.

Help your child to focus, think freely and to be creative and you’ll hand him the keys to the future world market.

How can you incorporate learning into your every day activities to encourage your child to think outside the box?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • rahrah says:

    Think about it. You can look to each other all you want, but you have to bring in an outsider to shake up the system and do things differently. Its similar to why western CEO’s are brought into stagnant Japanese companies. They shake things up with outside thinking. Lets not kid ourselves, you think of Asian Americans as “outsiders”. Well… here’s your chance to shake things up. Either put some in charge, or have them teach your kids. Its really that simple. Think of how Japan and Korea solved some of their problems that needed an outsider. The US system also needs an “outsider” that is not burdened by cultural slavery and historical issues that encompass mainstream America. The Asian American can bring in that neutral outside thinking that mainstream America needs.

  • rahrah says:

    The best way is to get your kids trained in mathematics or science by an Asian American. I’ve personally taught one of the worst kids I have ever seen in math, to an acceptable B+/A- level in math. His parents are still dumbfounded this has happened. haha. He is now playing division IA baseball on a scholarship, but he is a more confident man now. There’s really no other way to bring your kids up to the level of Asian Americans, without being taught by a smart Asian American.

  • Franz Plagens says:

    Hopefully we can fix the problems in the future with technology, at least for the 3 R’s. Well 2 R’s. Writing will be obsolete as everyone will be using speech to sign their checks, write emails and take notes. You might have to get a yearly up-date of your language memory chips as new slang words arise, and as your needs in math changes, due to your ‘job’, but compared to the amount that’s spent on ‘schooling’ these days, it should be cheap.
    Education will become cheap, just like knowledge has become now, and teachers will get even more holidays. (I wish I was a teacher!). All the kids will be programmed to behave, so there’s another thing that’ll make things easier for teachers.

  • Jen says:

    The key to our children (and our country) being competitive in the future global economy is simple: Math and Science.
    Because of No Child Left Behind, literacy is the main focus, even in the intermediate grades. While I would never suggest literacy is not important, it should be emphasized in the primary grades, with science and math becoming more dominant in the intermediate grades and beyond.
    The schools that are abandoning NCLB and embracing STEM (Science, Technology, & Math) Magnet Schools are absolutely on the right track. But so few states, and so few districts, are going that route.
    We absolutely must shift our focus to math and science.

  • Franz Plagens says:

    Yes USEducator-in-ROK, it’s interesting comparing different culture’s attitudes to education. Another attitude I’ve come across is, (especially main-land Chinese), they respect the leader /boss/teacher so much that they think that person is perfect. Knowing all, and would never think of questioning anything they do or say.
    I think our free way of thinking comes from our version of democracy. True democracy requires a fearless attitude. It’s like putting your kilo of gold bars on eBay for 99 cents, and hoping the bidding will reach the true value. Letting anyone become president and hoping you end up with a smart guy with the values most people desire (well it works most of the time, lol). Another example is free speech ….. being able to say anything (that doesn’t hurt anyone else) requires a fair amount of fearlessness.
    A student questioning a teacher’s teachings is a good way for the student to learn a subject. In Asia it’s often taken as a lack of respect, while in Western cultures it’s a compliment, to the teacher. It shows him his students want to learn all the intricate details of the subject. It’s one thing to know it, it’s another thing to understand it.
    So we, in the West probably still have a few decades, before fearlessness takes over the emerging Asian economies, if ever. Work may well be obsolete by then. Japan and Korea will be populated by robots who, having been programmed by fearful people, will probably be fearful too.

  • USEducator-in-ROK says:

    Korea is one of those “Emerging Economies” that you speak of. After teaching for 30 years in the US I have come to work at a “foreign” school in Korea.

    I agree with your opening comment “Educate, educate, educate.” something Koreans do in spades. They are the most educated country on the planet. If you haven’t experience a Parent-Teacher conference with a Korean mom, you may not understand. In Korea education is a cultural, familial, and personal priority. As I type this I am watching 5 students stay after school to make up an IB Chemistry exam that they missed because of an athletic event. They came to me to set up the time to make up the exam. In 30 years of teaching in the US I usually had to go chase-down the students who missed exams. Until education becomes a priority in the US, NOT just in words, but in actions and allocations of funds… it will continue to fall behind. The families of these 5 students pay $25,000 per year for the privilege of sending their students here. For some of them that means that Grandma keeps working into her 70’s to help pay for it. The emphasis on accomplishment comes at a high price. Korea has the highest suicide rate on the planet, 33 out of 100,000 people. Second place is only 23 out of 100,000.

    Your line “The US education system does not encourage free thinking.” is due some exploration. Free thinking is a cultural emphasis in most all “Western” cultures. Unlike here in Korea where a premium is put upon being part of the group and being and looking just like everyone else. I usually describe the US to my Korean friends as a place of rampant individualism. Everyone is different and they work at being so. Free thinking is something that Koreans want to become better at and struggle to do so. There is a saying in Korea; “The nail that sticks up, gets hammered down.”

    Your line about “The US education system is working hard to stomp out creativity.” goes hand-in-hand with the “free thinking” statement from above. The Korean translation of Steve Jobs book was a best seller over here. Apple and Samsung (a Korean mega-company, for those who need to know) are in a legendary battle (entrepreneurial competition). Koreans are good at doing things faster and cheaper. What they need to be able to do and are striving to accomplish is come up with an original idea and move it to the market place, something US companies do with ease.

    Many of my students come to me right out of the Korean education system. The first time I pose a question to them and ask them to create a solution is often a moment of crisis. They come up to me and ask me to give them the procedure as to how to complete the lab task and look perplexed when I tell them that their job is to figure out or create the procedure that will complete the task before them. It is clear that doing what you are told is a cultural priority and being asked to figure out what to do as a high school student is beyond the normal expectation. I have had Korean students tell me that “Koreans are good at solving problems that have already been solved.”

    I applaude your emphasis in the article about parents getting involved in their students education at home and in school. I would say though that it is the culture of educational emphasis that is the catalyst for students becoming effective competitors in the global economy. The fact that the US economy has been number one for so long has led complacency, too many people thinking that this is the way it is always going to be, that the “poor countries” of the world will always be lagging behind. This will not be the case. There is an emerging “middle class” in most countries that (right or wrong) crave to send their children to a “foreign” western style school (2000 American or English curriculum schools world-wide in 2000, 6000 in 2010, projected 10,000 by 2020) and are willing to spend a significant portion of their income to do so. They’re not purchasing a bigger house, not a new car, not season tickets to the game, but education for their children, and grand children. This is currently unthinkable in the US.

    You are correct in saying the public policy takes years if not decades to change. This is because it is an outcome of the culture the sets the policy and changing culture does take years. I suspect it will take the Chinese landing on the Moon to change the American mind set (alla Sputnik in the 50s). Or maybe it will take a major North American disaster with the Japanese, Chinese and Koreans coming to our aid. The mind set of the American economy dominating the world needs to change. The idea that “when the US sneezes, the rest of the world get a cold” in no longer true. The idea that my right to be able to afford my (entertainment, big house, new car) is more important than paying for a globally competitive education for my student needs to change.

  • lukiboy says:

    I dont believe that any school system that entirely focuses on factual content alone or one that doesnt give you enough factual content can be succesful. I live in South Africa and the focus of the syllabus (when taught properly, which isnt the case in meny impoverished schools) is to give each student suffientent factual knowedge but more importantly the core skills that can be applied to any simmilar subject. For example, History, where although factual knowedge is needed, more important is being able to interperat sources and write essays, which are both invaluable skills. In science subjects like Physics, obviously there is a greater focus on core knowegde and on problem solving but still other aspects are included

  • P Tainter says:

    One only has to venture to Europe or (even more so ) Asia to see creativity-crushing, memorization-based education systems that produce experts in narrowly-focused fields. While the American system can be improved, it leads the world in fostering creativity and critical thinking.

    What we need more of is a portion of what the Asian systems excel at, namely strong foundations in basic skills such as math, sciences and language.

    The reason a person like Steve Jobs was so successful was because he was very highly creative, but also because he was an engineer-he had strong basic skills that allowed him to understand the science and technology of his business.

    Creativity without basic skills is just wishful thinking-one might be able to conceive of a unique idea, but have no way of implementing it.

    The American school system is not adequately teaching students basic skills, period. Basic skills are learned by initial rote memorization, repetition and drills.

    • Franz Plagens says:

      I agree P Tainter… Basic skills are learned by initial rote memorization, repetition and drills. But it’s how they learn them is the important thing. Giving them for homework and getting punished if they aren’t learnt is one way, but loading up children with ‘work’, is not efficient. Like they say… if you can get enthusiastic about your job, you never have to work a day in your life. After seeing how much my kids learnt in the Kumon method, (and there are probably other good methods out there), of doing a large number of simple, repetitive, exercises and completing levels, so it becomes a game of achievement, instead of drudgery is a better way.

  • Eric says:

    I love how everyone tries to compare America’s educational system to the rest of the world’s. The fact of the matter is this. The USA is the only country on earth that attempts to educate every kid until the age of 16. In Most of Europe & Asia kids attend what we think of as traditional school until the 8th or 9th grade in some countries. Then they either go to high school or they pick a trade to learn. That means our 100% of kids under the age of 16 are judged against what amounts to be around 30% of those country’s best students. I don’t think the USA is behind at all. I just think people like to compare apples to oranges. People seem to forget all of the kids in China & India that are sweeping streets or digging coal while your kid is in a classroom.

    • test says:

      Trade schools are part of the public school system and kids in those schools get to do international tests too. They do not leave educational system, they are part of it. The only difference is that they get less math, history, geography and other theory then kids in academic tracks. Missing theory is replaced by some practical trade.

      On the other hand, academically oriented high school are much higher and there is much less pressure to “dumb them down”.

      By the way, the cut off age is usually around 16. There is nothing special about America educating everybody, all western countries do that. The difference is that other countries gives more varied opportunities.

      Not everyone likes learning theory. There is no reason to force them to sit through classes they find boring and essentially ignore anyway.

    • rrickarr says:

      …you mean until 18. Other than this point…you are 100% correct–and I know because I used to teach HS in the Bronx and I now teach in Europe.

  • Lulu says:

    Compared to China and India or even Europe where the largest competition lies, the American schooling system encourages so much free thinking that it actually is very ridiculous to be comparing. Having well rounded individuals specializing later in the world’s best research universities is also not disadvantageous at all, it is extremely important to build up well rounded individuals who will be well prepared for the rapidly changing wider world – which is what the current educational system advocates.

    The problem with the educational system is more rather the lack of discipline to be found in homes regarding a child’s education. Just look at the drop out rates! Discipline in homes translates to discipline in schools and later in the workforce. A greater spirit of co-operation should also be fostered, rather than all this ‘free thinking’ business. Free-thinkers are necessary and especially valuable for a workforce to compete internationally, but have a workforce filled with mostly free-thinkers and you can see the productivity levels plummet.

    I also find the tone of this article to be severely lacking… What does the comment “China is on track to tackle the US and take the top spot from our fumbling hands.” mean? China has four times the number of people that the US does, as living standards and infrastructure rises in China it’s inevitable that the country can economically surpass the USA. It’s not supposed to be a competition or whatever.

  • Mike says:

    Yes, I do want a well-rounded doctor. If he doesn’t have every last technical detail, he’ll know where to find it. That’s infinitely preferable to the technologist who knows how to prolong life, but not when or why.

  • arnold regardie says:

    I think learning to write clearly is part of the global challenge. Education is the answer but clear writing is part of that challenge. Math and science subjects should not be the only areas on which to focus. Creativity is fostered by clear thinking. A basic clear writing tenet is to organize your thoughts before writing. This encourages creativity and is the key to free thinking. Without the ability to write clearly, other areas of education pale in importance. I have devoted many months of effort to blogging on this subject – see I have also published an eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” available on Kindle. Arnold G. Regardie.

    • douglas says:

      This is one of the best points mentioned in the comments. Thank you Arnold. Certainly not all kids will become great writers but if armed with the tools for clear writing and clear thinking they will have a much better chance of creating innovative ways to solve global market problems.

  • Priswell says:

    We homeschooled for many reasons, but some of them are in this article. We encouraged hands on projects and critical thinking. Reading was a cornerstone of our school program, from “good literature” to biographies and history to plain old enjoyment reading. Just simple reading opened many doors to interesting conversations with us on current events, colonialism, the iron curtain, the Dark Ages, and much more.

    Our son in talking to a buddy one day about some of the interesting books he’d read, only to find out that his friend was so bogged down in “required reading”, worksheets and reports that he had no time for anything else, because of after school homework. How can parents have those golden educational moments, when all after-school time is blotted out by school-required drudgery?

  • R. R says:

    Much of what this article says is absolutely correct. BUT–I taught in the NY system and now teach in Europe–if you think American schools discourage creativity and free-thinking, come here and see how they do not even know what that is.

    Please also remember that standardized testing is one of the worst killers of creativity and multiple views. Students must give the correct answer (shade in the correct dot) and there is only one correct answer and there is no opportunity to argue your point of view—so do not blame the teachers. Teachers are desparately trying to get people to see the uselessness of this type of testing yet many politicians want to rank a teacher based on these test scores! Politicians are a part of the problem.

    Last point: there is a whole group of parents who themselves cannot think, so how can they encourage their children to think!!!!!

    • Johan Sterk says:

      ‘Europe’ is not a country. Cultural differences between European nations are not smaller than those between South and North America. It’s amazing how one can have tought in Europe without noticing that.

      • R.R says:

        I did not say that Europe is a country. My point is, the EU has caused commonalities between certain things. Because European countries are small it is common to have students study across borders. There are commonalities in the education systems between many countries. So it is rather amazing how you post such nonsense.

  • Yinka says:

    Great post about in outlining the steps involved with kids to be able to compete in this our global economy. Might I also add that parents should strive to make every moment a teachable one for the kids, allow them to also learn from their mistakes.

  • Kristi says:

    I am a clinical psychologist who has spent a lot of time in the school system and agree completely with this article. The teachers unfortunately are mandated to “teach to the test” regarding national standardized testing and other things fall to the wayside. My son attends a blue ribbon public elementary school, and we chose it because the teachers there foster creativity and free-thinking which I have not seen in many schools. I volunteer there several hours per week and see their amazing efforts first hand. However, we still follow use supplemental homeschooling in a way that they don’t suspect is schooling. My 7-yo is interested in dogs and on Spring Break this week, we’ve taken him to a live stunt dog show using rescued pound dogs, a documentary on Alaskan sled dogs, and a tour of caves where they learn about stalagmites/stalagtites.

    Sadly, too many parents think the schools should not only educate but raise their children, and many parents are “too busy” to volunteer or put in time outside of school to enrich their child’s education. It’s not just a failing of our educational system; it’s a failing of our cultural mindset.

  • Stephanie says:

    K-Bot, that is an excellent point! Instilling such high aspirations in children can be unrealistic because not everyone will be a genius and so what if someone is a genius? That’s not the key to happiness nor be all and end all. I would still say that aiming high gives one the option to live a life in pursuit of greatness or opt to live simply.

  • K-Bot says:

    Then again what if your kid is content to be just average and doesn’t want to compete?

    • Franz Plagens says:

      The kid wants to be ‘just average and doesn’t want to compete’ ???….. yes parents will have an influence like that on their kids. Those parents don’t even realize it, but kids are so sensitive to how their parents think. That is where good schooling comes in. Well designed peer pressure in class pushes kids to compete and achieve. Highly trained teachers, given the resources, can achieve this. They’ll create kids who go home and try to inspire their mediocre dads to achieve more.
      Well designed government assistance to parents to fund their kids education also helps relieve stress at home. How can a kid focus on education when the parents continually fight about money. Relieve the financial pressure by having the government supply the necessary books, computers, remedial teachers, etc that each child needs to achieve. A child focused on achieving will have fewer drug, alcohol, bullying, etc. problems also. In the end, what is the true happiness in life… a nice house and expensive furniture and luxury car and iPhone, iPad, etc., imported from China, or successful off-spring able to compete in this new globalized world.

  • Daria says:

    I generally agree with the original and the comments. I’ve had experience both with “supplemental” home schooling (daughter) and with “full-time” homeschooling (grandchildren). In the end, yuo always end up with other people assisting with homeschooling &/or sending kids to specialized classes (music teachers, math teachers or groups (e.g., Kumon) , etc. There are also athletics (the Y, ski lessons, skating, swim lessons–whatever works for you and your children) .
    I don’t think the “24/7/365 teachable moments” have to be fun. Many can and should be explicitly be “teaching/learning.”
    Teach your child/ren proficiency in at least one foreign language! You may have to hire the teacher/tutor or provide the experience (e.g., summer camp in another country or something). The earlier the better. A third language can help also–but if a child is proficient in two (speak/read/write) the third and subsequent languages aren’t all that difficult. You can be opportunistic when you choose the language–their friend or some neighborhood kids speak it? Relatives speak it? There is an excellent teacher in your area… That’s the language you choose for that second language. (I’ve assumed that if you speak a second language that you’ve already taught it to your child.) In the end it doesn’t matter what the second language is. The others sort of follow–also opportunistically. Once you speak a second language pretty fluently, you understand the dynamics of speaking another language and so learning additional languages is something you’re open to. This should start with young children. If they are fluent, they can “perfect” it later–in the language itself! If you have several kids, they do NOT have to all learn the same languages, although they probably will teach each other to some extent.

  • Stephanie W. says:

    I agree with many of the points made by both the author of the post and the commentors. Having gone through public school (At a “Blue Ribbon” school) I can see where public schooling has limitations due to the extreme number of students that pass through their halls. The superintendant in our case did not want to suspend or, heaven forbid, expel students that severely needed to be removed. Due to this lack of discipline, classrooms would be chaotic, and teachers would not have the ability to help those who wanted to learn more because they were constantly staying a step behind for those who did not care about respect for their teacher, their classmates, or for their own education.

    We personally had many different opportunities for classes when I was in school. I have, however, seen the cuts made in the public education system, and the opportunities I had are no longer available. I am now witnessing my boyfriend’s child go through a different school system in a smaller town. The difference in the amount of homework they are given, and the difficulty of the classes is simply amazing. I seriously fear for her future, because she is very much behind the average for her grade. At parent teacher conferences yesterday, I learned they don’t even have History books! I can understand current events, but history? That shouldn’t be changing.

    Now, I also taught English in South Korea for a year. What I can say regarding my experience at least with Korean children, is that they have massive more amount of school time and homework than US students do. They have public schooling M-F and every other Saturday. They also have year round schooling, with breaks scattered throughout the year. The parents also contribute to their furthering education, because on average, each student is sent to two after-school academies (which is where I taught). They expand their knowledge in areas such as Math, Chinese Caligraphy, Martial Arts, Musical instruments, and English to name a few. They work very hard, and have (again on average) more respect for their teachers than the average students here.

    My ideal personal goals for my future children would be to home school them so I can be sure they get the 1 on 1 attention they would need to really succeed and grasp concepts. I would also send them to “after school” activites such as sports, camps, tutoring, ect. so they get the social skills and build relationships with other children, or simply learn from someone other than just one teacher (myself) so they can get multiple points of views. Will it happen? I guess I’ll see, and of course, it sounds ideal, but I guess only true experimentation will show if its as successful as I hope.

  • Stephanie says:

    I’m not sure I agree with these ideas. I think that the US does pretty good with freethinking and creativity, but I guess it depends on your context. It is true that the US has become so polarized that it’s important to vary the news sources so that one isn’t exposed to only liberal media sources or only conservative media sources. Some classrooms water down content to make it more creative and I’m not convinced that is the best method.

    Lastly, my bias stems from coming out of a liberal arts college that encouraged depth and breadth in our acquisition of knowledge. I believe it requires dabbling in different things to be inspired in a discipline. For example, drawing on anthropological insights to inform economics, and ideas that can originate from those cross-pollinating exchanges. I hate to use Steve Jobs as an example since everyone likes to use him to make a point, but in his speech given at a 2005 Stanford graduation, he said that he took a calligraphy class, just because he was interested or thought it’d be fun, and that inspired (I’m not tech-literate..) something revolutionary in the way he designed technology. Something like that isn’t planned and can’t be. So while expertise is important, I believe dabbling is complementary.

  • MoneySmartGuides says:

    I agree that the American education system needs an overhaul. I question the future of the US economy. With all of the baby boomers retiring, there aren’t as many people to fill all of those positions. Also, as the economies of India and China develop, the citizens are going to require higher wages as part of their increased standards of living. All of the jobs that moved from the US to these countries will lose the benefit of lower wages. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

  • John @ Married (with Debt) says:

    My plan is to hope that India and China become so strong that they outsource our jobs back to us. My kids can work in a call center and be constantly abused by Asians who are tired of “foreigners” answering the phone.

  • Jonathan@Friends and Money says:

    “Make learning an every moment activity.” This is an excellent suggestion. Children love to learn about new things, especially if they don’t even realise that they are learning! I’d encourage anyone to make learning fun, by encouraging play related topics with a strong learning element. I also think that social skills are essential to helping your develop a great educational basis from which to excel

  • Marbella says:

    Do you have opportunities to send your children abroad for a year, to Europe or Asia to learn to see things in ways other than those you see in the U.S.?

  • Long-Term Returns says:

    The US system encourages much more creativity and free thinking than any other system I know of (I was educated half in US, half elsewhere). What it’s lacking, severely, is emphasis on math, science, logic, engineering. To some degree is the result of the emphasis on well-roundedness that you mentioned. But mostly it’s just the cultural mindset here — kids are to be coddled and not pressured which means that unless they voluntarily take interest in the harder subjects, those will get ignored. US students study the same math and science subjects two years later than students elsewhere. The balance is restored to some degree in US universities (which, unlike the US K-12, are some of the best in the world), but by then it’s far too late for most students.

    Students in US have way more flexibility in what they study, way less homework, and way more free time (including non-academic extra-curricular activities) than any other developed country. No doubt this freedom does have some positives but the overall result is that we increasingly rely on imported (or off-shored) brains instead of homegrown ones.

    Creating and free thinking are great, but if you want to be a competent engineer or scientist you first have to put in a decade (or two) of hard learning of all the basics. There is not a ton of room for free thinking in finiding pH levels, or area under the curve, or current through a circuit. In US we like to skip right to creativity and free thinking without first laying down the difficult and boring foundation. Both are necessary, but in US the balance needs to be restored not to more creativity, but to more fundamentals.

    • MyOhMy says:

      I completely agree. It wasn’t until I was in my second year of undergrad that I became more interested in more technical fields of study, but by this time it was far too late to pursue this direction as I the best I could in maths at that time was Intermediate Statistics. Now I am stuck with a BA and MA in Liberal Arts subjects but these just aren’t worth the costs and effort I spent to achieve them.

      We are talking about introducing changes to our educational system and overall attitudes to education now, but these changes really needed to take effect about 20-30 years ago. I think parents whose kids are still very young can benefit most as they can instill these lessons in their kids while they’re still young, but parents with older kids and teenagers will really have to work hard and get creative about how they are going to get their kids up to speed.

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