Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"We look nuts."

The Executive Producer of Two Million Minutes, Bob Compton, responded to reactions to his film and "what most Americans see as a binary education question - to push kids in schoool and cause them 'stress' or to take it easy on them and risk their future careers."

"Having grown up in America and traveled extensively around the world visiting schools in over 3 dozen countries, I would like to frame the question somewhat differently.

Not as 'should we stress our kids with more academics', but rather 'are we helping our children allocate their time most effectively to be globally competitive as adults?'

Americans stress their kids in lots of non-academic ways that we barely mention - primarily in sports but also socially and with after school jobs.

In sports, every year 1-2 high school boys die in August two-a-day football practices and our local orthopedic clinic is regularly filled with serious high school sports injuries - football, baseball, basketball wrestling, soccer, even cheerleading which is the biggest source of serious orthopedic injury, believe it or not.

To Indians and Chinese this sports 'stress' seems bizarre.

Americans’ passion and focus on youth sports — and the time invested in training, practicing and playing — contrasts sharply with how Indian and Chinese youth spend their time.

They use athletics as a way to have fun, unwind, get exercise. They would never spend 20 hours per week for 3 months practicing a high school sport - and then train and be coached in the off-season for the following year.

They spend that time studying, but not just math & science - they are enjoying art and music all the way through high school.

They study world history (most Indian students I’ve met know more American history than American students). The read literature drawn from a global library. They understand and enjoy discussing economics. And of course they are fluent in their native tongue as well as in OUR native tongue.

Yes - Indian and Chinese students work very hard at school starting in kindergarten - but while a few are highly stressed by their parents’ expectations - they are no more stressed than the student athletes whose parents I see at every game screaming at their kids, yelling at the coaches and cursing the referees. Didn’t one US parent actually kill another parent not long ago at a high school hockey game over a bad call?

To Chinese and Indians - we look nuts.

What I hope my film will cause American parents to think about is 'how their kids are allocating their 2 million minutes of high school.'

If the takeaway from my film is we need to squeeze more academics into the same time slots, rather than re-allocating time - people will have missed what I saw in India and China."

Bob Compton, Exec Producer // December 20, 2007 at 11:02 am
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