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American educational system compared to China/India

Hey guys, I need some insight from you on a topic that has really grasped my curiosity.

I began rambling on to my friend about how I'm fed up with America's educational system. I stated it's too bogged down by its hierarchy of subjects, with the priority being placed on math and science, and hardly any emphasis on the arts. My rant went something along the lines of Ken Robinson's TED talk on education, in case any of you are familiar.

Now, ultimately I believe equal emphasis should be placed on all subjects (from the arts to the sciences), but that there should always be a wide choice of school available -- free-market. So if you want to send your kid to a school that focuses on Math more than any other subject, you'd have that choice.

However, before I could get to this point, my friend began going on about how countries in Asia such as India and China have a very structured educational system, yet these are the fastest growing economies out there. Also, they have the most graduates with degrees such as engineering and computer science. Therefore, a rigorous, structured, regulated hierarchy of subjects is beneficial.

Now, is there a correlation between these growing economies in Asia and their educational system? How does it stack up specifically against America from your knowledge? How do you guys specifically feel about the educational system? Do you agree it stifles creativity?



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The Problem With Public Schools

The problem is that somebody always thinks they know better than everyone else what makes for a good education. Leave it to the parents, get government out of the business completely.

As for China, their centralized bureaucracy is making better decisions than our centralized bureaucracy. They emphasize STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) in education. With these skills, the next generation of Chinese citizens will be more valuable/productive workers than comparable American citizens. Because a US education includes arts, social-sciences, and sports, our workers will earn less money in a competitive employment market.

In short, wages in China will continue to increase, while wages in America will continue to decrease, solely because of the poor decisions made by our centralized educational system. The best solution is to eliminate public education, and relegate all educational decisions/responsibilities to the parents. Parents will always make better decisions than a bureaucrat (even a Chinese bureaucrat). This is the only way we can remain competitive.

Arts? LOL

now there's a useful course of study.

clearly, government should be out of education. They don't give people what they need or want.

I have absolutely no use for arts but someone else might. So why do I have to take that crap? Let those that want it take it, for me it's a waste of my time.

I don't know much about

I don't know much about China, but the Indian education system is terrible compared to America's. When you meet an Indian engineer or doctor in the US, remember that they are the best of the best of the best India has to offer.

The real picture is that something like 25% of Indians are illiterate, but the standard for literacy is only being able to write your own name. As for the statistics about India graduating more engineers, well I'd hardly call them that. I hire engineers with degrees. Maybe 10% can do the absurdly simple work I have for them. Only 2% of the Computer Engineering graduates can do the work needed by the big IT outsourcing companies. A kid with Lego blocks and an erector set is more of an engineer than most of the people with engineering degrees here.

Forget Legos, computers etc, only wealthy people have door knobs in India. Half the country does not have access to toilets. I've yet to see duct tape on sale, and several fundamental tools have only come on the market since I've been here. There is little exposure and what exposure they have is to shoddy workmanship and ignorance. It isn't difficult to have a good growth rate when more than 50% of the people live a hut or an urban equivalent.

Teachers in America have no legitimate complaints about their salaries. I have a village teacher who comes to my house to clean on Sundays. I pay her more than double her teaching salary for 3 hours work each week, and still I only give her about $40 a month.

I would say the major problem with Indian education is the reliance on teachers and classes. Rather than pick up a book and learn, my warehouse manager spent three months salary on a programming class. He had access to a computer at work, my encouragement to use it and a small library I've made available. He still paid for the class because "that is how you do it". The class was crap. Almost all the classes here are crap. US published books are far superior to Indian published books.

Only the best of the best schools in India are comparable to those found in the US. That isn't to say that US schools are good, just that schools here are terrible. There are nice parts of Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbia where a moderately intelligent American can feel comfortable with the people around them, but that is only a few square miles in a country a third the size of the US.

"Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered." -- Cicero

India has HUGE human resource

India has HUGE human resource potential. The problem is basic infrastructure like 24/7 electricity and water. India is a very young nation compared to western economies so these will improve through better technology and economic growth.

I have long played with the idea of opening an NGO to teach marketable skills to teens, but have to spend a lot of time with my own company so it does not seem possible now. This is where there is an important role for govt. in providing free primary education and meals for poor children because it is simply not profitable for private entities.

I think you are underestimating our higher education system however, especially for engineering, medicine and management. A lot of excellent colleges are there and though, there may be a dearth of research, they churn out excellent professionals, a lot of whom are coveted by multinationals.

The future here looks much brighter than the bleak one expected in Europe and to some extent America. Id there is a problem it is social attitudes but that is a whole different conversation.

India does have the potential

India does have the potential for a great future. That is why I'm here. Infrastructure is a problem. I'm dreading the flight to Delhi tomorrow because I have to spend the day in the giant open sewer known as Noida. That said, power only goes out at my condo once a month now, it was twice a week when I moved in, and they have been doing road work throughout the city.

I can't get into details about my relationship to the university system, but I know it intimately, all the way up to the top. There are excellent schools. The IITs and IIMs are top notch. Several new private schools are very good, even compared to state schools in the West. There are very few schools like those compared to the population.

When I visit mid a lower level colleges, I am not impressed. When I hire, I am not impressed. Multinational do covet kids from good schools, but there are only so many of them. I'm not concerned about the top 1%. They will be fine. When I talk about the education system being terrible I mean for the bulk of the population.

If you are serious about an NGO, think about offering for profit electrical wiring or plumbing courses instead. I've seriously considered bringing people over from the US to set curriculum and teach those classes in one of our schools, but haven't had the time to arrange it yet. It wouldn't be extremely profitable, but it would have almost no competition.

"Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered." -- Cicero

Mid level colleges are

Mid level colleges are springing up like mushrooms and as long as they all pay their bribes they get accreditation. Its a sad state of affairs. Delhi is not too bad this time of the year. I often think that if India's temperature was about 10 degrees cooler, the workforce would be around twice as productive. The heat in the northern plains is really draining.

Right now I do have an NGO set up for simplifying important new acts passed by the govt. and disseminating this info, but I don't have a lot of time to give to this.

My dad may be interested though. He recently retired as director general of police of a state, and though he is currently advising the government on police reforms, he may have time for something new.

Profit is not really a factor I guess. Financial sustainability is, though, and that (sad to say) could be arranged through govt. grants. Illiteracy is such a big problem though. That is what makes me doubt the viability of such an effort aimed at teens or young adults.

Don't beat yourself up. I'm

Don't beat yourself up. I'm from India, the typical brilliant student. 90% + throughout school, got into engineering college, 336/340 on GRE. You would think I would be a great electronics and communications guy.

The truth however is that a lot of people have gone through engineering college not because of any real interest but because it is sold as the simple way towards financial security. Getting cushy IT jobs at the end of it no matter what your field of study.

I owe a lot to Dr. Paul. I knew about science but I did not know about free thinking and the value of private enterprise as opposed to govt. Because of him and my dad who always believed I was cut out for more I dodged the 'higher education in US' and 'IT job' traps.

Now, in a very good place in life partly due to the influence of Ron Paul, I can tell you with confidence that math and science are important, but equally important are the lessons of Ron Paul. I hold him in higher regard than Gandhi.

Yes. Our system stifles creativity.

Every kid is unique, an individual with his or her own talents, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. A "common core" set of standards that are strictly limited to fields of study deemed most important ignores this fact and forces the child to deny their individualism and conform.

Other countries and those you mentioned, are doing better with regards to education, and it seems reasonable that their economies would in fact improve as well. However, it is not their very structured educational system that is necessarily the cause for student improvement, but the fact that these countries, regard the teacher as one of the most important professions one could enter. This means not only does the teacher garner much respect among the community but is also rewarded financially. If you pay the best salaries, you get the best teachers. But here, teachers are paid with public funds, at rates determined by gov't. rather than by direct market compensation based on performance. Instead of using tax dollars to fund a common education system, return those tax dollars to the people and allow licensed individuals to teach more specific and advanced subjects outside of a managed school building. Parents and students then decide what course of study they would like to pursue and would pay the teacher directly. The teacher would then not only be able to determine his/her own value, but would also have greater control over the teaching process. If discipline problems arise, the teacher simply refuses his/her service to that student. If the teacher is not doing a good job, no parents will enroll their children with him/her. But the collectivist mind will ask " what about the poor that can't afford to pay for education?" I would argue that humans, especially those with the desire to teach, are on the whole compassionate. If teachers could make 6 figure salaries they likely would be willing to accommodate hard working students by charging less than for those that could afford his/her rates. If this benevolence did not happen on its own, rather than forcing it with the hand of gov't, then, if we just quit spending money to fight terrorism and the war on drugs, and trying to build a fence that will keep thinking motivated humans out of our country, and used those funds to drastically increase compensation for public school teachers we would see an immediate improvement in education.

What you said about paying

What you said about paying teachers more is just wrong. First, those countries' schools aren't better than those in the US in any way shape or form. Twenty-five percent illiteracy in India, where the standard is writing your name. I don't know China as well but I know the schools for the general population are crap. Most of the schools in India don't have toilets or running water, let alone any of the other basic that you would take for granted. China would be better, but not much.

You are working from preconceived notions. Someone says that schools in other countries are better, so you agree and say it is because they "regard the teacher as one of the most important professions one could enter". I know a young female professor who has been forced to sleep with her bosses, yes plural, or she would get transferred to the other side of the country away from her husband and family. I happened before I got here but, it is fairly common in India. I have an grade school teacher who comes to my house each Sunday to clean. Her monthly teaching salary is 750 rupees, about 15 dollars. Do you think either of those two feel "important"?

You are right that education in the US should be private, but that will decrease, not increase, the salaries of most teachers. The ones who can get better paying jobs in the US do. Half my high school teachers made low six figures. That is what a couple decades experience and at least one doctorate gets you at a top school in the US. They would still make good money if the market was free. The ones who would lose are the bulk of teachers who make $25-$60 thousand. They should lose, or at least be motivated again.

There is already a free market at the top of education pretty much everywhere in the world. Private tutors, boarding schools and the like exist for those who can afford them. Education for the masses is crap in most places, which isn't an accident.

"Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered." -- Cicero