Regular visitors to this blog know that I have been on a creativity rant for the past two years. My interview with Sir Ken Robinson on the topic of The Arts, Creativity, and the Modern Economy encapsulates much of what I believe to be true and the flaws with an educational system heavy on test preparation and think on knowledge acquisition.
It looks like our brethren to the north have some of the same concerns. And while we wring our hands the Asian education systems continue to reinvent themselves.
The answer to "who's right" is less about bragging rights and more about the future of economic power.
Read, think, and let me know your thoughts!
There is a global revolution in education underway. Is Canada headed in the wrong direction?
China's education system is currently undergoing the most massive transformation of any country in the world. China's leaders have come to see that a system that turns out students who can't think for themselves isn't going to help their quest to become a global economic power. In response, they're replacing the old system, dependent on rote memorization, with a new focus on communication skills, critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity.
In less than a generation, China could be turning out the brightest, most original thinkers on the globe. With 200 million students and 12 million teachers leading the way, you can be sure that other countries are paying attention.
One country following suit is Singapore, whose dramatic revitalization in the past 40 years is extraordinary. Until recently, the country's top ranking in math and science skills has been considered the key to its success. However, in an interview in the August 7, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle, Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is also an economic adviser to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, declared "We must reinvent ourselves. China is advancing very fast." There is now urgent concern that the old education system, and its relentless focus on examinations and grades, has bred all passion and conviction out of its students. Efforts to reduce this trend are extreme. Where you could once get arrested for spitting chewing gum, the government recently sponsored a graffiti contest allowing students to decorate city buses.
Shanmugaratnam sees awakening originality and ingenuity as the key to unlocking Singapore's economic potential. "We are redesigning our concept of meritocracy to include a broader range of merits, not just results in standardized exams, to help stimulate creativity and innovation. The arts are a big factor in this."