Monday, November 05, 2007

Two Million Minutes

To see exactly why the Indians and Chinese are going to kick our butts for a long time to come, I highly recommend the new documentary, Two Million Minutes (representing the four years of high school) -- the DVD should be out within two weeks.  Here's a summary and more info is at: <>

 This film takes a deeper look at how the three superpowers of the 21st  Century – China, India and the United States – are preparing their students  for the future. As we follow two students – a boy and a girl – from each of  these countries, we compose a global snapshot of education, from the viewpoint  of kids preparing for their future.
Our goal is to tell the broader story of the universal importance of  education today, and address what many are calling a crisis for U.S. schools  regarding chronically low scores in math and science indicators.
In many ways the six kids simultaneously fit and break national  stereotypes.

Take Rohit in Bangalore. He is under intense pressure from his folks to get  into a top engineering university but blows off steam singing with his "boy  band" and dreams of sending demos out to record companies. In Shanghai we meet  math whiz Xiaoyuan, who, while awaiting word from Yale to see if she gained  early acceptance, tries out as a violinist for the top music conservatory in  Shanghai.
In Indianapolis we go to school with Neil. The senior class president and  former star quarterback who gave up football to focus more on his studies. He  has cruised through school, but now, with a full academic scholarship to  Purdue University, wonders if he is up to the college challenge. The other  students profiled in the documentary – Ruizhang, Brittany and Apoorva – face  many of these universal adolescent pressures as well.
To put these narratives in context we have assembled an array of interviews  with specialists like former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich,  Congressman Bart Gordon, chair of the House Committee on Science, Harvard  economist Richard Freeman as well as top Indian CEOs, and leading scientists  in America.
Statistics for American high school students give rise to concern for our  student's education in math and science. Less than 40 percent of U.S. students  take a science course more rigorous than general biology, and a mere 18  percent take advanced classes in physics, chemistry or biology. Only 45  percent of U.S. students take math coursework beyond two years of algebra and  one year of geometry. And 50 percent of all college freshmen require remedial  coursework.
Meanwhile, both India and China have made dramatic leaps in educating their  middle classes - each comparable in size to the entire U.S. population.  Compared to the U.S., China now produces eight times more scientists and  engineers, while India puts out up to three times as many as the U.S.  Additionally, given the affordability of their wages, China and India are now  preferred destinations for increasing numbers of multinational high-tech  corporations.


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