America, 16th in world re. college graduates

A generation ago we were 1st in the world regarding the number of college graduates and we’ve slipped to 16th.

What happened?

Two things happened. We became complacent and everyone else sprinted past us.

Kids in the United States go to school fewer days than the kids in the countries ahead of us. American children study to less rigorous standards, etc… And so we lost the leadership role.

I learned this lesson when I was a young teen. I joined a football team with had a coach that didn’t believe in conditioning. In the preseason we did fifteen jumping jacks and a few laps and then started practicing plays. I’m serious. That was it. That year we played about twelve games against other teams who, unlike us, took preseason conditioning seriously. We not only lost every single game that year… a few kids got injured.

That coach should have been fired.

The hard truth is that we, parents, are much like that coach. We, parents, need to embed it into our kids heads that they are not competing with the kid next to them at school… they are competing with kids in Bangalore and in cities they’ve never heard of… like Guǎngzhōu… which is 5x the size of Chicago.

We can and should take this on by understanding the stranglehold teachers unions have on our system but we, as parents, need to go further than that. We should seek out any and every educational option that we can afford or access for our kids, wherever that is in the world. We should encourage our kids to fully grasp that jobs will not be waiting for them upon graduation, the world is radically different than it was a few decades ago. All companies in the world seek to optimize their research, development and delivery systems with almost no acknowledgement to geographic or nationalistic restrictions. We should encourage our kids to embrace languages that are the drivers of the next century (such as Mandarin).

We, parents, must prepare our kids to compete in the world economy.

If you have kids, prepare them for the century ahead of us and not the one behind us.


One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Paddy McCourt,

    I get this first hand and its astounding to see how children on the other side of the world treat education. I teach at a private english school and very regularly these kids are at their main school from about 7:30 to 4:30, after a quick trip home for some food they are shuffled in to my school for another three or four hours and then its off home to do at least two hours of homework, however most of the time its three to four hours. Summer holiday? Nope, that’s seen by parents as a golden opportunity to pile on a wide range of private courses ranging from language to science. However its not completely one sided, as I take attendance in my class I kind of chew to fat with the kids to see whats going on in their lives a common question for me is, “Ok, it’s Saturday morning what are you going to do this weekend that’s fun” I would say about 85-90% of the time the answer is, “Nothing I have too much homework” (occasionally I will get computer games). Also, the motivation of these children only comes from being held by a very short leash by their parents and disagreements are not taken lightly. The way they talk about their education is most often a seething hatred, I cant tell you how many times I say, “So, why are you majoring accounting/medicine/chemistry?” to which the reply is “My parents are making me” and my reply is “What do you want to study” and my heart breaks when I hear “painting/music/design”. I do think its really serious how education in the USA seems to be going in the wrong direction, especially universities. I did an hour long talk the other day on The World is Flat and made sure that all my students gave themselves a pat on the back. The one thing American students need to grasp onto and cultivate above anything else is free thinking and creativity. We are getting crushed in math scores but I think just being creative and breaking the status quo is our most valuable export.

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