A new documentary film comparing six high school students from China, the U.S. and India calls for reform of the U.S. education system in favor of the more rigorous Asian education systems. Two Million Minutes, a film developed by American venture capitalist Bob Compton, points out that students in China and India work much harder than those in the U.S., score consistently better than American students on international student comparisons, and now pose a threat to American students’ job prospects in the U.S. In the movie’s trailer, one American high school student gabs about sororities while her Chinese counterpart is featured fiercely practicing her violin.
The film was met with scorn at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, where Compton screened the film in an attempt to effect academic change. One professor, education theorist Howard Gardner, stated that the U.S. had nothing to learn from Third World education. As a proponent of “multiple intelligences” (rather than a single intelligence able to be evaluated by standardized tests), Gardner believed that Two Million Minutes only looked at the math and science side of education.
“His point was: How can you have a great educational system when you don’t have freedom of speech?” Compton said [in the LA Times].
Many in China are also skeptical: Blogging for China reminds readers that “there are many in China deeply unsatisfied with the Chinese education system” and points us to the overzealousness of Chinese parents in pushing their children to become academic superstars, particularly during the furor over China’s 3-day university admissions test (gaokao).
Video interview by WSJ Chinese of Bob Compton right after the jump: