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 About.com'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 About.com was a waste of money given the Wikipedia model? Question #3: In terms of organization and model, will About.com 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.