despite China’s many technological advances, in this new cyberspace race, the West had the lead.
Xi knew he had to act. Within twelve months he revealed his plan to make China a science and technology superpower. By 2030 the country would lead the world in AI, with a sector worth $150 billion. How? By teaching a generation of young Chinese to be the best computer scientists in the world.
Today, the US tech sector has its pick of the finest minds from across the world, importing top talent from other countries – including from China. Over half of Bay Area workers are highly-skilled immigrants. But with the growth of economies worldwide and a Presidential administration hell-bent on restricting visas, it’s unclear that approach can last.
In the UK the situation is even worse. Here, the government predicts there’ll be a shortfall of three million employees for high-skilled jobs by 2022 – even before you factor in the immigration crunch of Brexit. By contrast, China is plotting a homegrown strategy of local and national talent development programs. It may prove a masterstroke.
In 2013 the city’s teenagers gained global renown when they topped the charts in the PISA tests administered every three years by the OECD to see which country’s kids are the smartest in the world. Aged 15, Shanghai students were on average three full years ahead of their counterparts in the UK or US in maths and one-and-a-half years ahead in science.
Teachers, too, were expected to be learners. Unlike in the UK, where, when I began to teach a decade ago, you might be working on full-stops with eleven-year-olds then taking eighteen-year-olds through the finer points of poetry, teachers in Shanghai specialised not only in a subject area, but also an age-group.
Shanghai’s success owed a lot to Confucian tradition, but it fitted precisely the best contemporary understanding of how expertise is developed. In his book Why Don’t Kids Like School? cognitive Dan Willingham explains that complex mental skills like creativity and critical thinking depend on our first having mastered the simple stuff. Memorisation and repetition of the basics serve to lay down the neural architecture that creates automaticity of thought, ultimately freeing up space in our working memory to think big.
Seung-bin Lee, a seventeen-year-old high school graduate, told me of studying fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, for the three years leading up to the Suneung, the fearsome SAT exam taken by all Korean school leavers on a single Thursday each November, for which all flights are grounded so as not to break students’ concentration during the 45 minutes of the English listening paper.
Korea’s childhoods were being lost to a relentless regime of studying, crushed in a top-down system that saw them as cyphers rather than kids.
A decade ago, we consoled ourselves that although kids in China and Korea worked harder and did better on tests than ours, it didn’t matter. They were compliant, unthinking drones, lacking the creativity, critical thinking or entrepreneurialism needed to succeed in the world. No longer. Though there are still issues with Chinese education – urban centres like Shanghai and Hong Kong are positive outliers – the country knows something that we once did: education is the one investment on which a return is guaranteed. China is on course to becoming the first education superpower.
Troublingly, where education in the UK and US has been defined by creativity and independent thinking – Shanghai teachers told me of visits to our schools to learn about these qualities – our direction of travel is now away from those strengths and towards exams and standardisation, with school-readiness tests in the pipeline and UK schools minister Nick Gibb suggesting kids can beat exam stress by sitting more of them. Centres of excellence remain, but increasingly, it feels, we’re putting our children at risk of losing out to the robots, while China is building on its strong foundations to ask how its young people can be high-tech pioneers. They’re thinking big – we’re thinking of test scores.
soon “digital information processing” would be included as a core subject on China’s national graduation exam – the Gaokao – and pictured classrooms in which students would learn in cross-disciplinary fashion, designing mobile phones for example, in order to develop design, engineering and computing skills. Focusing on teaching kids to code was short-sighted, he explained. “We still regard it as a language between human and computer.” (My note: they are practically implementing the Finland’s attempt to rebuild curricula)
“If your plan is for one year,” went an old Chinese saying, “plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for 100 years, educate children.” Two and half thousand years later chancellor Gwan Zhong might update his proverb, swapping rice for bitcoin and trees for artificial intelligence, but I’m sure he’d stand by his final point.
Google, for instance, has made virtual field trips to inaccessible locations easier for history and social studies classes with its Cardboard viewers used in conjunction with the Expeditions app. And technologies like zSpace have expanded opportunities in STEM subjects with virtual interactive dissections, diagrams and experiments.
more on VR in education in this IMS blog
We gladly invite you to attend the International Conference “The Future of Education, Mass-Media and Communication” which will be held at Johns Hopkins University, just 20 miles away from Washington DC.
nprEd correspondent Cory Turner offers a primer on how private school vouchers work, why they're controversial, and the arguments for and against them. Read more: “The Promise and Peril of School Vouchers” at http://n.pr/2psFwFz
The Charles G. Koch Foundation offered to give the university $1.5 million to hire two assistant professors and fund fellowships and undergraduate curriculum on free-enterprise topics.
“In exchange for his ‘gift,’ the donor got to assign specific readings, select speakers brought to campus and instruct them with regard to the focus of their lectures, shape the curriculum with new courses and specify the number of students in the courses, name the program’s director, and initiate a student club.”
How the Koch Brothers Are Influencing U.S. Colleges
It is well-known that the Kochs’ network has invested hundreds of millions of hard-to-track dollars in conservative political nonprofits that influence elections. The brothers, who earned theirbillions leading private oil, chemical, and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries Inc., were dominant forces in recent election cycles
The Kochs educational giving, while rarefied, isn’t the most abundant in the United States. Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, with his wife Betty, this year pledged $100 million to the California Institute of Technology—and offered to let the school to spend it as it sees fit.
At the College of Charleston in South Carolina, for example, documents show the foundation wanted more than just academic excellence for its money. It wanted information about students it could potentially use for its own benefit
Among the proposed conditions: Teachings must align with the libertarian economic philosophy of Charles Koch, the Charles Koch Foundation would maintain partial control over faculty hiring and the chairman of the school’s economics department—a prominent economic theorist—must stay in place for another three years despite his plans to step down.
Florida State University ultimately didn’t agree to the initial requests when, in 2008, it reached a funding agreement with the foundation. It’s also tightened and clarified policies that affect private donors’ contributions to the university.
To Charles Koch, Universities Are Propaganda Machines
Sahlberg, an education scholar and the author of Finnish Lessons 2.0, answers the theoretical question in his article’s title, writing in part: “I argue that if there were any gains in student achievement they would be marginal. Why? Education policies in Indiana and many other states in the United States create a context for teaching that limits (Finnish) teachers to use their skills, wisdom and shared knowledge for the good of their students’ learning.”
more about Finland Phenomenon in this IMS blog
Here’s where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on the biggest K-12 issues
By Stephen Noonoo
October 24th, 2016
more than 2,500 educators responded to an informal eSchool News poll asking which candidate best represented their vision for the future of K-12 education. (Clinton won that poll with 58 percent of the vote, while Trump received 28 percent; 12 percent were undecided.)
about the candidates and their positions on education, check out the infographic compiled by eCampus News, which hones in on higher education issues, such as college tuition costs.
Want to be smarter? Heredity is not the barrier you might think it is, says University of Michigan social psychologist Richard E. Nisbett, PhD. After analyzing decades of intelligence research, Nisbett maintains that past studies give too much credit to heritability’s role in intelligence. Culture, social class and education, he argues, matter more, and explain racial gaps in IQ.