The United States of India

The United States of India

Summary: In less than two months time it has become clear that, between Cisco, Intel, and now Microsoft, India will get injected with at least $3.8 billion.


In less than two months time it has become clear that, between Cisco, Intel, and now Microsoft, India will get injected with at least $3.8 billion.  China is getting similar injections. According to a report in InfoWorld, Intel chairman Craig Barrett talked about why education is making China more competitive while he was cutting the ribbon on a new $200 million test and assembly center his company built in the western Chinese city of Chengdu.

<Digression> Question #1: given the recent flap over the Wikipedia, should I link "Chengdu" to the Wikipedia's entry for the city or's entry? Question #2: A lot of Wikipedia "disruption" discussion are focused on properties such as the Encyclopedia Britannica.  But, has anybody looked into whether the New York Times $410 million acquisition of was a waste of money given the Wikipedia model? Question #3: In terms of organization and model, will and the Wikipedia drift to a middle point between the two? </Digression>

At a recent "executive dinner" in Boston that was organized by the regional unit of TechNet, the role of US tech leadership was one of hot button discussions.  Some of the Massachusetts-headquartered IT companies are apparently pouring tens of thousands (if not millions) of dollars into educational reform and programs like the Charter Schools.  I argued that all the educational reform in the world won't matter a hill o' beans until our kids get hungry like the ones in India, China, and other parts of the world.  The image that comes to my mind is a four-year-old one from Afghanistan where, just after that country was liberated from the Taliban, CNN did a story about how excited the kids were to get back to school.  Especially the girls who, under Taliban rule, were denied schooling. 

Here in the US, when school is "out," 99 percent of the kids celebrate.  How unfortunate is it that they take so much for granted?  Referring to a generation that didn't take things for granted in a tangentially relevant blog entry, Doc Searls wrote today (Pearl Harbor Day):

The War and The Depression, gave our parents enormous moral authority, as well as a boundless supply of instructive stories at the dinner table...We didn't appreciate it much at the time....Now that so many of the old folks are going or gone, we do.

We (us 30, 40 and 50-sumthin's) may.  I know I do. Especially when I hear stories about how my Dutch in-laws were either incarcerated in an Indonesian concentration camp or forced to eat tulips to survive.  Or how members of my family living in the Jewish ghetto of Podhajce were "liquidated" in a spray of bullets because of their faith (see: Sixty years later, technology triumphs over evil).  But, I'm less convinced that our kids who are very removed from both that history and the realities of the impovershed world can appreciate those dinnertime stories.  Sooner or later, that schools-out celebration is going to end. Unfortunately, unless something is done about motivating our kids, it'll be after they've squandered their inheritance.

Topic: China

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Priorities

    I'm a lot less worried about the kids who celebrate when school ends than I am about the way we treat the ones who celebrate when it starts up again.

    As long as we, as a society, treat intelligence and a love of learning as something to be ashamed of not much else will matter.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • You nerd you.

      Point taken. Point further made (hopefully). I couldn't agree more. Thanks for pointing that other problem out, YBK.

    • Excellent point

      You make an excellent point. Both of my children were on the Academic Bowl team in their high school, but received absolutely no recognition from either the school or the community, even when finishing highly ranked in state-wide competitions. Meanwhile, the (at the time) mediocre football team got all of the attention. It was sad to see.

      Carl Rapson
      • Money Rules

        The coldness towards intelligence is not because it is not held in esteem, but because a student's intelligence doesn't bring in any monetary compensation. Academics is not very entertaining. So, more than likely, your children cost the school money to send them to their state-wide competition (or your children took part in various fundraisers to pay).

        A mediocre football team can bring in a profit - you have Pepsi and Coke scrambling to pay for the rights to build the field and scoreboard, clothe the players, stock the concession stands, ect. My high school was bought out by Pepsi my junior year, and we got all of these things, plus a few thousand dollars in scholarships for both academic and sport achievments. This wasn't a bad deal for a high school which had only 20-25 graduates in 2000.
      • School Priorities

        You need balance in any school. The school my children attend place academic clubs and activities above Athletics to the point where it has driven students to other schools.
    • Exactly.

      Not only ashamed off. But inherently evil. It is most obviously portrayed in the movies that our country produces.
      • really!?!?!?

        Soo, we all believe that movies are true. Than what is a documentary? I know our children that are in school act like the ones on South Park. Dont be afraid of the movies, be afraid of the media, they control the temperature in this country!!!!
    • Great post

      This is just the opposite in Asian cultures. Being a good student is something to be proud of in popular society.
    • I hear that

      Another issue, at least in the elementary- and high-school level, is that most learning is one-way. That is, the teachers don't so much teach the students as "drill" them. The growing emphasis on standardized testing seems to exacerbate this, with a none-too-subtle motivation to "teach to the test" prevailing; as a result, most children will only maintain the information long enough to get a decent grade on the final.

      On the other hand, college has a more "participatory" environment in which the students exchange information and guesses on the subject matter with their teachers.

      I feel that if we can change the system so that the teachers "engage" the students in dialogue rather than "teach" them, we can improve the quality of education.

      However, the ostracization of students who actually want to learn is a serious problem. But then, you have teachers who make barely enough to survive, so in many cases, they probably don't care much more about the coursework than the students do.
      Third of Five
    • Interesting...

      I guess the question is, how did American culture get that way? I've noticed the same kind of trend George noticed. Asian kids (or at least those asian culturally) come from families and social networks where learning is valued, respected, and encouraged.

      In America, though, Yagotta is right. If you stumble into a good school, you MAY find an environment where learning is respected. However, in the wider society, it isn't as respected, and if you end up in the WRONG school, you end up like the John Cusack's nerd character in 16 candles.

      How did that happen? The more important question is, how do we change it?

      Are we like a big company that takes it's position for granted?
      John Carroll
      • Always been that way...

        It has been the culture in areas of our country since it was founded. Fathers telling there sons school isn't important but what he tells you about working/living is the important thing. Obviously this started on the farms but as we have moved from farms it still exists.

        So many parents discourge there children from the parts of education they find exciting. If your parents want you to become a doctor or a lawyer then they don't want to hear about the exceptional writing skills you have or how you love history. The same with music or sciences in some cases.

        There needs to be a whole revamping of our education system. Starting with teachers who actually want to teach and in subjects they know. We have enough teachers who are working for a paycheck because they couldn't make it as something else and not for the education of our children. Teacher tenure is a problem in my view. Why do we reward someone for lasting a long time? Shouldn't we reward them for being a great teacher, not just the last one standing. As for the parents we all need to take a stake in our childrens education. Parents can't just pass the buck on the goverment. Take interest in your child learning process from day one. If you do they will understand that this is important and want to make you proud.
      • How did it get that way? Ummm, slavery...

        You know, when you tell 10% of the poulation that an education is not for them, will only cause them grief, make laws agaisnt it, there is little suprise then that it became part of the social fabric.
        • Oh, Please.....

          The patent excuse for kids who aren't taught school then work are requrements for survival.

          Why work? Why study? The gov'ment will take care of me like they do my Mom. David's original blog (?) pointing out the hardships of my parents/grandparents required the hunker down and work to survive. My folks understood the value of an education and made sure I understood, like it or not. :-) Mostly I didn't.

          We can't escape the responibility that parents have for this problem. If kids' folks don't create a desire to learn, work, be independent and improve themselves as they do in some other cultures, we and they loose.
          Joe Donovan
      • No simple answer...

        As a country much of out legends and history in general is made
        up of the mythilogical "Rugged Indiviidual" From day one in the
        Daniel Boones and Jim Bowie's grabbed out attention. Then the
        Mountain Man and eventually with Wild West. It goes on and on
        and on.

        Then there is the backlash of late against the sciences by those
        of faith. Intelligence is in some corners looked at as a potential
        enemy and science is spat upon as counter to the greater

        There are several factors involved here Personally I like the
        Rugged Individual model and don't consider myself a team
        player or a member of a greater ant farm. Still I think there has
        to be a balance and part of that balance is to realize that
        science and thought in general is NOT the enemy and very often
        can be a strong allie.

        Pagan jim
        • Thank you...

          ...but, the rugged individual model is no longer socially acceptable.

          Anyway, well put...

          Joe Donovan
      • It happened like this....

        1. People wanted accountability of schools, so politicians decided standarized test scores were the answer. Now the emphasis is on "teach the test"

        2. Leave no child behind is interpreted to be "teach to the lowest common denominator"

        3. Businesses told schools the wanted employees that could work in teams, so the schools decided to do everything in teams, from reading to math, and stopped teaching individual skills.

        4. Politicians tried to fix all the problems by throwing money at the schools, who promptly went out a bought computers. Never thought about how they would use them, or what would happen to their students if the electricity went off in real life.

        What to do...for a start, elementary schools need to focus on basic indiviual skills like reading, writing and arithmetic. They need to try and find a way to allow children to explore the things that excite them. They need to leave the "team work" for after they have learned individual skills, and they need to find a better way to evaluate schools and teachers than using standarized tests.

        Given that every newspaper in the country has an entire section for sports, is it any wonder that the sports teams get more recognition.

        one other observation. My daughter just graduated from high school, got a very nice scholarship. She had a number of Asian friends at school, but rarely saw them outside of school. Seems that it wasn't allowed by the parents. I guess non-asians think that social interaction is also an important skill.
        az firebird
    • Take the shortcut become a celebrity

      Why should a kid waste all his time studying boring stuff when what he needs to be doing is becoming a celebrity. Look at Paris Hilton, she is famous and a celebrity but I don't know how she came to be famous. I don't think she is a actor, a sports star, a rocket scientist, or anything but famous. So, why bust your hump becoming anything if all you need to do is show up.
      • Sidenote

        She became a famously, wealthy woman, because she comes from a famous, wealthy family (the Hiltons, of Hilton Hotels). She became soup du jour by having the good/bad fortune of having a dirty video of her escape into the wild... she didn't even need to "show up", she just needed to be born to the right parents, and then do what zillions of other people her age do. :)

        Justin James
      • Paris Hilton's fame

        Here's how to achieve Paris Hilton-like fame:
        1. Somehow be in line to inherit a multi-million dollar fortune.
        2. Star in a sex video under low-light conditions.
        3. Flash your genitalia or underwear at events where paparazzi are
        in attendance.
        Oh, and being pretty is also a prerequisite.
    • Yep

      The beginning of the semester parties usually rock. :)

      Oh, c'mon, SOMEONE had to say it...
      Real World