CSI (China, States, India)

Welcome to Podcast #18.

We discuss the education systems of China, the States, and India. Our conversation centers around a new video called, Two Million Minutes: A Global Examination. The video spotlights six high school students, two each from China, the United States and India. The video makes the case that students in China and India work harder, spend more time working on school work and take school much more seriously than their American counterparts.

The video “sounds an alarm” about the educational system in America according to its producers.  The video has its critics and supporters.

We agree that American education can improve. We believe that we need to continually work hard at improving the education that all of students receive. However, we also think that some of the things that are happening are positive. We also found some data that questions some of the generalizations that are brought up. Let’s start with an article from Business Week:

About That Engineering Gap…

One would expect that the numbers used in such debate would be defensible and grounded. Yet researchers at Duke University have determined that some of the most cited statistics on engineering graduates are inaccurate. Statistics that say the U.S. is producing 70,000 engineers a year vs. 350,000 from India and 600,000 from China aren’t valid, the Duke team says. We’re actually graduating more engineers than India, and the Chinese numbers aren’t quite what they seem. In short, America is far ahead by almost any measure, and we’re a long way from losing our edge.

Unfortunately, the message students are getting is that many engineering jobs will be outsourced and U.S. engineers have a bleak future of higher unemployment and lower remuneration. This could result in a self-fulfilling prophecy, as fearful young scholars stick to supposedly “outsourcing-proof” professions. In other words, we have more to fear from fear itself.



Another topic is the movement about ten years ago to model our educational system after the Japanese model. Instead of just pilfering the best of the system, some wanted us to adopt everything from the Japanese model. Now, the Japanese are looking to the Indian system for ideas:


Some additional Observations:
1.  Mathematical/Logical intelligence types made a movie espousing their mathematical/logicalness.
2.  Powers not expressed in the Constitution are reserved to the States.  This, as a technicality, lies outside the purview of the Federal Government.
– Inter-State Commerce Clause:  Senator Levin (D-MI) has stated at a Michigan Civics Association meeting that he would the clause to regulate &
Federalize education.
– Block Grants
3.  The power of choice (Adam Smith). Increased demand for engineers in China and India decreased need in the U.S.
– The motivation to change:  “Their parents also seem less intimately involved in their schooling.”  It will only happen when parents feel an economic
need for future change.
– Planned economies vs. Free Market economies.
4.  Nice use of the “glittering generalities” tool.  Yea, there’s only 30 seconds to influence, but it paints with a broad brush.  Does not account for
individual change.
5.  1980’s Europe set the “international standard” for education and the huge push was “foreign language” education.  Gotta know a European language.
6.  Differences in the definition of engineering between U.S., China, and India.
7.  Planned vs. Free Market Economy
8.  Transactional vs. Dynamic Engineers:  “In contrast, transactional engineers possess solid technical training, but not the experience or expertise to apply this knowledge to larger domains.  These individuals are typically responsible for routing tasks in the workplace.  In the United States, transactional engineers often receive associate, technician or diploma awards, although they may also have a bachelor’s degree.  In other countries, these engineers are produced by lower-tier universities, with thinner curricula and a weaker emphasis on research, group work, applied engineering, and interdisciplinary thinking.”  (SSRN-id10819223 p. 9)

Finally,  a call for  presenters:

Michigan Joint Education Conference is looking for speakers to talk about their interdisciplinary units/lessons in June.