There is so much wringing of hands over the state of American students and how they lag other international students in rote memorization of facts, particularly China.
Yet China, which has made its way in a mere droplet of time to the world’s second largest economy and is fighting its way to top global dominance, cannot produce upper middle managers with innovative, creative thinking, according to Time magazine’s Nov. 18, 2013 issue in a story called “Why China can’t create anything.”
These types of individuals are so rare in China they make about $105,000, which is huge in a country where wages for the average worker still lag behind the U.S. Even for their managers, responsibilities have to be broken up into narrowly defined slivers, according to the same article. The managers have to be carefully monitored and staffing rates are much higher.
The U.S. excels at innovation and creative thinking among students. Already, students learn to read in kindergarten. Everyone without exception is tested, and every child, regardless of ability, has the option of public education.
However, our education system has work to do as there would be in any human endeavor. Technology continues to evolve and most children today do not grow up on farms, where people once learned so very many life skills and creative problem solving.
Today, some young adults are entering college and the workforce unprepared for its rigors.
“In 2009, hoping to disrupt this cycle of despair, the Kentucky state legislature passed a bill to throw out the state’s standardized test and require higher education standards, benchmarked to international norms. “It was driven by Republicans from a conservative perspective--demanding higher standards for our kids,” says Stu Silberman, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, an influential education-reform organization in Kentucky. At the same time, the National Governors Association, along with the Council of Chief State School Officers, was working on a similar blueprint. From the beginning, the Common Core standards were explicitly linked with what colleges and employers wanted young people to know. . . They are also as high as any found in the top education systems in the world, from Finland to Japan,” Time magazine, “What Every Child Can Learn from Kentucky,”Sept. 30, 2013.
The Common Core standards, which are standards and not curriculums, seek to address the shortages in American education. Unfortunately, some legislators also seek personal and political gain from opposing and inflaming the issue. Plus, curriculums will still be decided at the local level.
Implementation won’t be easy. It will require change and hard work by school leaders, parents and students. There will be areas that won’t work in the classroom, but others that are terrific. Everyone involved will have to motivate themselves to learn new skills.
21st century skills involve lightning fast response to the minute by minute complex, technological changes as the world speeds up. The Common Core addresses the shortages in current American education and emphasizes its strengths.