There’s a new documentary about to come out: 2 Million Minutes: A Global Examination. It
profiles 6 high school students from China, India, and the United States. Watch the movie trailer or
article about it in Education Week. It looked interesting enough
for me to pre-order a copy. I’ll let you know what I think after I view it!
There’s a new documentary about to come out: 2 Million Minutes: A Global Examination. It
Wow! That looks amazing! Thanks for publicizing it. I’m ordering my copy right now.
Having only seen the trailer, I wonder if the film addresses which students are more content. As is usually the case, it seems like the only point of view that is ever considered is the economic one. The trailer showed cranes, construction and other signs of “economic growth”. However, I doubt it addresses what is being lost in the process of growing an economy–both for the students and their societies. I’m more worried about countries that educate their best to enter the industrial economy without affording them any chance to discover what really makes them happy.
I wonder if they will have a streaming version available (for purchase).
I watched this trailer a couple of times, and I can’t help but find the premise sound but the method sensational.
If another person wanted to, they could easily turn the table and find students in the US that would look better than students in other countries.
It seems this movie is based on very specific anecdotal evidence. It could be nothing more than a glimpse at a small portion of a much larger picture. That could do more harm than good.
Granted, all I’ve seen is the trailer. I’m just wary of anecdote being confused for universal truth.
LOL… funny that you would judge the movie by its trailer and then suggest it provides only a snapshot of the truth!
Having watched the documentary a few times, it IS only a tiny perspective of a huge cultural and economic issue… but that’s the purpose… to expose people to a glimpse of things and ideas they may not have considered and generate discussion.
I found the production gave a fair presentation of some basic differences in world views… and raised some interesting questions about what our kids in the US are doing with their time… both in and out of the classroom.
Watching and discussing the film with teenagers is very interesting!
A good deal more people will see only the trailer of the film and thus discussion around the country is largely focused on said trailer.
The bottom line is that the strength of other countries makes them powerful collaborative partners in a global economy.
The United States seems to be producing more designers, thinkers, innovators, and creators at this point, while India and China are producing people who can crunch numbers, assemble, and engineer. So far, that’s made for greater economic viability and a higher standard of living for Americans. At the same time, outsourcing has improved the quality of life for Indians and the Chinese.
Granted, those countries will start to produce and create in their own ways, making them even more valuable collaborative partners.
As an educator, I have dozens of students every day who go to school, participate in an enrichment activity, do hours of homework, and then sleep. I also have students who go home and network, play, design, and create. Both of those groups have rich lives and are working toward bright futures. They are no more or less in danger than people were 10 years ago. If anything, they are better prepared for their place in the global economy.
As the creator and Executive Producer of Two Million Minutes, I thought I might offer a couple observations on these posts.
First, I did not attempt to assess the “contentment” of people in India, China or the US. There are metrics that attempt that and last I saw I think Iceland had the most contented population.
Second, unless you have traveled to India and China and had very different experiences from my own, I would encourage caution on the myth that we produce more creative or innovative people.
It is true we have a culture and a highly evolved capital structure that supports creativity, innovation and new design – but the hundreds of Indian and Chinese engineers and scientists, teachers and graphic artists that my companies employ are every bit as creative as most Americans.
The fact that 40% of all Silicon Valley venture capital-backed start-up technology companies are led by immigrant Indians indicates some meaningful level of innovation.
“Design is one of the most popular majors at Chinese universities today, and hundreds of design consulting firms have sprung up in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou.” November 07 Business Week
The fastest selling car at GM (Buick LaCrosse; over 110K units) was designed by an all Chinese design team in Shanghai. (Fast Company April 07)
Third, I must disagree that economically American kids are in a no more dangerous economic position than they were 10 years ago.
In fact, 3,000,000 new capitalists have entered the global economy in the past 25 years – China, India and the former Soviet Bloc. Travel in these countries, visit their schools, talk to their young people and then decide whether billions of eager, smart, hard working people will increase competition for high wage jobs or decrease it.
This generation of Americans, in the 21st century, will face greater global competition from twice as many competitors as we have ever seen in our history. And from my first-hand observations in all three countries, the future is very bright for young people in two of the three countries.
Finally, as one should not judge a book by its cover, one ought not judge a movie by its trailer. See the film or better yet take your vacation this summer to India or China or Vietnam or Cambodia. It will be cheaper than Europe and much more enlightening.
I appreciate your response. You make some very compelling arguments, and it’s obvious you know what you’re talking about because of the experiences you’ve had in planning and making the film.
I’m having a child this summer, so I cannot afford a trip. It would be nice to see that side of the world, though.
The whole purpose of a trailer is to allow people to make judgments about a movie. It’s like the words on the back of the cover of a book. I admit that it’s probably not fair to make as much of a judgment on the trailer as I have, and for that I apologize. I was just concerned that the film was alarmist in nature, and I’m always wary of things like that.
Your reasoning is very strong.
If you do read this comment, can you please answer or give your thoughts on a couple of things?
1. What about collaboration? Do you feel like this is a takeover that’s happening or are other nations a rising up as equals in a collaborative environment?
2. This may spoil the film, so don’t bother answering if it does, but what do you think the single greatest change I could make when I walk into my high school writing classroom on Monday that would help students be better prepared for this 21st century world?
3. Although there are many negative things going on with education, what’s the most right thing happening with education in America right now?
I’m an impossible optimist with a great deal of hope for India, China, and the United States. Maybe that’s why I’m a little resistant to the thought of these changes being frightening and us being underprepared for them. The faces I see in my classroom every single day give me an unbelievable amount of hope.
You may not have time to answer these questions, and I understand that. I appreciate your dialog.
My question on this, is why did you choose Carmel High School to “represent” the US? I did not attend there but that is where I’m from and I am now working on my teaching certification and MAT and our class watched the documentary. I found it to be very interesting but I think that Carmel, Indiana isn’t the most diverse community. The high school is mostly made up of upper to middle class white students. Is that why it was chosen?
Do you address one of the major reasons why American kids spend so much time on non-academic extracurriculars: college admissions pressures? It’s all very well for you as an extremely wealthy parent to tell your kids to drop all extracurriculars & study because your kids are going to get into a top college as “development” admits. Middle class kids need the resume padding. Colleges prefer well-rounded kids to those who’ve kept their noses to the grindstone. Just look at all the Asian-American kids passed over in favor of non-Asians with lower GPA’s and SAT’s but who shine in sports and other extracurriculars.
Also, the people I know with the most successful careers were not necessarily the top students. Some were, but many were “B” students.
The copy I ordered arrived today so I watched it immediately. I got excited hearing about the film at FETC but could not make that session. While it was not as riveting as I thought it might be it is worth sharing with some people here in our school district. I am looking forward to some of the discussions that it generates.
As a senior citizen of a fairly affluent suburb of Boston, I have been shocked at the recent changes taking place in our town’s high school. No homework over vacations; no or little homework over long weekends; no required reading over summers and no publication anywhere of the high school honor roll. However, the super-jocks on all high school sports teams are always written about in the local paper. It’s disgraceful!
Academic achievement has become irrelevant. Our high school principal believes kids already have too much “pressure.” He cites several high school suicides in recent years and blames them on pressure to achieve high grades. As a result, our high school has been dumbed down to mediocre, where it will stay until we get rid of our current school committee, superintendent and high school principal – all the while wasting over 50% of of the town’s tax revenue on the school system.
Finally, our town’s high school certainly doesn’t appear on U.S. News’ list of the best 100 high schools in the U.S., but 3 towns within 10 miles do, as well as does The Boston Latin School.
Mr. Compton –
Can you tell me what I should study to be a venture capitalist? I want to know more about education than educators, make loads of money whipping the markets into a frenzy and cashing out before they come crashing down, and do other wonderful things that you VCs do. Sure, people will accuse you of just contriving a load of sensationalistic horse manure in order to make a quick buck, of making unfair comparions between US and foreign students (I don’t know ANYBODY in the US that plays the violin!), and of generally making the educational equivalent of a Michael Moore mockumentary, but lets face it, you rake in the big bucks riding the backs of people who actually produce something and then use your extorted cash to propel yourself into the media spotlight. That must make you right!
Maybe you could start a correspondence course in venture capitalism? Would that lead to a B.S.V.C., or just to a load of B.S.?
Sometimes the literati and media catch hold onto some issue and grind it till it makes sense.This is such a topic.But dangerously though,they are correct sometimes!Call it the need,the less fortunate circumstances or whatsoever,students in these countries are having less visible fun.They have more important thoughts than party,playing ball or teenage pregnancies!For a typical American student being washed and drowned into the crowd of mediocrity is the fashion statement.But for these students it is defeat!Not all of them dream of coming to USA(But they have above par skills to identify their countries on the maps and to distinguish states from countries).Am not challenging any claims that the best brains work in USA!But the majority sure are not from USA!Now we can forget bout all this or think a bit bout it.Two recessions in a score of years?But wait….India and China are still going strong!Concerned?
Even though his sample is small, his method is sound: the six students are equivalent to each other in the context of each culture: they are all top students, of well off middle class families. If you compare, you got to compare similar groups. So, he is comparing the best in the three countries. And the best in the US falls short of the best in the other countries. Countries that are more diverse ethnically and culturally than the US. The same result applies for health here: compare the higher class in England with the higher class here (same race, same socio economic status) and the Americans are sicker than their British counterparts. Folks, in what exactly is this country leading?
Go back to Ipanema if you don’t like it here. What are we leading in? Well, economic activity, for starters. Nobody comes close. What drives that economic activity? It isn’t venture capitalists. They are merely ticks that suck off the productive, capitalist entreprenuers in this country. Capitalism used to be a dirty word in the PRC – they are getting the hang of it, but still have a long way to go. And being a third world country as far as emissions go, by the time they reach our levels of productivity, we will all be dead.
Obvously, the schools in Ipanema are not too good, because comparing millions of students based on a sample of six doesn’t come anywhere close to a statistically significant sample. Do a t-test on the numbers, you’ll see. Oh, you probably don’t know what that is – ask a student from India or China, or maybe someone like me, a graduate of US public schools.
No, dear, actually a t-test is not going to work on a 3 condition natural experiment (which is the case here), you need to do a 3×1 ANOVA (analysis of variance). t-tests work only on comparisons of two conditions. You see, I teach statistics in a 4 year public university and Biopsychology in a community college. I know EXACTLY what is coming out of american public schools because I TEACH them: the average student who, if asked, usually does not know what critical thinking is (I have asked) and a sizable portion that thinks that Europe, America and Africa are COUNTRIES (no joke, they wrote that). The public schools in Brazil are a holly mess because the teachers are paid 250 dollars a month to teach full time and therefore what you get is the bottom of the market pool but I am not a product of those. I am a product of the private system which is much better than the private system here (middle class in Brazil with similar income to the US goes all private). SAT’s are a incredibly EASY test compared to the gruesome exams that we have to pass to go to a good university. And yes, I passed those: my parents did not pay a dime for my college degree in a public university which in Brazil are the best. As for moving out, that is in the works: I am thinking that Denmark, with its superb education system and social safety net might have some work for an overly educated individual. Economic activity that does not reward the wage earners (the foundation of any economy, read Henry Ford, please, I learned that in world history in 7th grade) is useless. That is why I am not in my country anymore: great economic activity and horrid concentration of wealth. Oh, by the way, the movie is comparing a sample of 2 of each country against each other and, indeed, that is not a statistically appropriate sample but, in every international knowledge testing, the US students have not performed well. And those samples ARE large enough. The movie was trying to ponder the causes for the poor performance. For that, the methodology is appropriate and it suggests that further prodding is advisable. Before biting people’s heads off, perhaps a bit of critical thinking would be salutary. Peace.
Dangerously Irrelevant detail that I forgot to mention: High School in Brazil takes 3 years, not four.
1. $250 a month in Brazil is a pretty good wage, unless you are a prostitute, which Ipanema is crawling with.
2. The t-test is used to test the null hypothesis, i.e., that means of two normally distributed populations are equal, not comparisons of two conditions. For an explanation of the t-test, see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student's_t-test. Of course, asking you (well, not you, someone that knows what they are doing) to do a t-test begs the question, which is what variable was actually being measured? The answer is – none. This “schlockumentary” was nothing more than a montage of hand-selected scenes designed to make the school systems in other schools look better than US schools. I could do the same (if I had the resources of a well-heeled VC) and make the schools in Haiti, or even Brazil, look better than the schools in your favorite country, Denmark.
3. You’re the one that said the methodology was sound – I’m not defending this bit of pseudo-scientific entertainment.
I’m pretty laissez-faire regarding my blog comments, but I think it’s important that we be polite and civil. Disagreement with ideas and statements is most welcome, but please refrain from personal attacks. I don’t really want a flame war or a lot of escalating insults on my blog. Thanks.
Usually, those who can’t have a rational argument based on objective evidence resort to insults to hide the fact that mistakes were caught in their logic. One can only assume that the previous gentleman has not been very far from his home turf and gets very defensive when anything challenge his own views. Oh, well, civility seems to be getting so passe around here, unfortunately. Indeed, this was not a study in which a t-test could be applied in anyway, as the gentleman previously suggested. Those were 6 cases studies, two from each country. In case studies, we don’t apply statistical methods, they are exploratory, which was the goal of the film: explore why american students perform poorly in international testing when compared with their peers of similar developed countries (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, etc…). In these tests results one can apply ANOVA: compare the means of the different groups in the testing. However, this still does not give you the reason for the poor performance. So, an appropriate recourse, is to do an exploratory research, comparing similar students. Now, to actually establish causation, one needs to randomly assign lets say about 10 people to each country (yes I consulted a sample chart) let them be in each education system for a while and then test them in their knowledge. Obviously, that is bit expensive and complicated. Perhaps a comparison of resources of the school systems in each country coupled with comparison of curriculum and teaching practices might shed some light on the causes of the disparities in performance. As an exploratory study the film is valid.
Dangerously irrelevant trivia: t-tests are used to test three different kinds of situations, all involving 2 means:
1 – If a value is different from the population means.Ex: Is a student gifted or not? Compare his IQ with the average IQ. You use a t-test for that
2 – If two groups that are completely independent from each other have significantly different means. Ex: Do girls perform better in language tests than boys?
3 – If two groups that are somehow paired to each other have significantly different means. Ex: Is the IQ of identical twins more similar to each other than the IQ of fraternal twins?
In each case the null hypothesis presumes that all the means are the same. The alternative hypothesis presumes that the means are different. The t-test will tell you which hypothesis is to be retained or rejected. In the case of more than 2 conditions, ANOVA needs to be used. Obviously these are procedures to be used with numbers: test scores, for example.
My apologies, blog-dude. I certainly did not mean to insinuate that any person posting replies to comments is a prostitute.
Some posters have asserted that I have resorted to insults to hide mistakes in my logic. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I merely pointed out that those posters did not even undertsand the meaning of a t-test, one of the most basic of tests for establishing whether a hypothesis is true. For this case, the basic hypothesis being tested is whether the education system as a whole in the U.S. is deficient compared to the eductaional system as a whole of other countries. My response was that the basis for that assertion, namely the alleged documentary, failed to provide any meaningful statistics by which a determination could be made. Other posters, while engaging in personal attacks against me, as well as emotional and unsubtantiated attacks against the education system in the US, have in fact agreed that subject documentary is in fact a farce.
In order to compare two, three, or any number of populations, you must have a representative population, as well as an objectively measurable statistic. When I studied in the PRC, I tried to establish a scholarship fund for less fortunate students. I was told this was not needed, as the communist party decided who should attend school there. As such, the failure to even consider whether the communist party in the PRC is keeping a class of students from attending school is a failure of the alleged documentary. While the best and brightest students, as measured by the PRC communist party, might be those that subscribe to the PRC communist party doctrines, there may be other bright students that would fail in studies such as spying on the U.S., while they would be brilliant scholars in fields of study prohibited by the PRC communist party, such as the field of human liberty, including the right to go to school even if the ruling party does not agree with your views. Why don’t you ask the kids in Tianenaman Square, was fashion the reason why they where there?
In the U.S., for over 200 years we have fought and died for liberty. In India, the caste system still rules. In the PRC, communism, or at its core, confucianism, still rules. Over half of the population in those countries is oppressed, beaten down, castigated, vilified, and does not meaningfully participate in the educational system.
I don’t see how any alleged documentary, much less any statistics, comparing a hand-selected few in any country can be meaningfully compared to a general population in a country like the U.S. where everyone, even people with no legal right to be here, is given the opportunity to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happyness.
In summary, IMHO, the documenary is a farce. Unless you are looking at equivalent statistics, then you can concoct a story to support your biased views, such as views that the imperialist US is trying to infiltrate the communist party of another country and that it is therefore justified to send someone like Martin Luther King, Jr. to re-education through labor, or views that there is an untouchable caste of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. who should not even be allowed to attend school. If a person were to suggest that a methodology that consists of hand-picking 2 students out of the millions of potential students in one country that imposes such arbitrary, biased and heinous controls and comparing them to 2 students in a country with a vast and well-developed system of law that ensures that all students are offered the opportunity to obtain an education is a fair methodology, I would disagree based on the principal that all men are created equal, are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happyness.
Saw Robert Compton on CSPAN talk about his documentary.
He is a succuessful investment banker…I left watching the interview on CSPAN as a poor mans Thomas L. Friedman.
Obviously the documentary is gonna be sensational (thats the way to get publicity and sell dvd’s) but when it comes down to it: its true that kids in China, Pakistan, India know they are competing for the top jobs with students from all over the world.
But kids in the USA overall feel they are only competing with Americans.
Peoples eyes need to open up…its a global economy
The 2 million minutes video sounds a little sensational, but the documentary sounds like it is touching on some key American fears. I have only seen the trailer on the internet.
Education is more important today than ever before. In 10 or 20 more years, this will be even more so. Compton’s video sounds like it is pointing out a real concern that many Americans have about public education. One aspect of public education is very successful — sports. However, sadly, we tend not to give the same focus to academics.
Why do I say this? I teach Advanced Placement classes in a middle-class suburban high school. Every year I receive grief from some parents and students who are angry because I assign academic “work” over the winter break as well as spring break.
Yet, almost all high school sports programs have practice over the winter, spring and summer breaks. Why don’t we as Americans give the same focus to academics that we give to football or basketball? For those of you who live and work in school districts with powerful sporting programs, you know what I am talking about.
I understand that you want to educate the “whole” child, but I constantly lose instructional time because of assemblies and pep rallies. Again, these assemblies and pep rallies are for extra-curricular activities. Oddly, we will shorten academic classes to celebrate extra-curricular achievements — but athletic practices are never shortened for say pre-prom assemblies or a winter sports pep rally?
FYI — I participated in sports when I was in high school (I was even a team captain of the football team), but the focus was never like this… Besides, I was in high school back in the 1980s — by 2008 shouldn’t we be changing our educational focus?
I moved to Canada from China in grade 4, and I did more homework in grade 4 than all through Canadian highschool. I am now in Canada’s elite engineering program where Chinese and Indian students account for 85% of all students, here, in Canada, and to think Canadians pride themselves to be better than Americans in term of education. So as you can imagine, from my perspective at least, if I was an American I’d be very, very worried about my country’s future.
Don’t get me wrong, Chinese students in China have a serious lack for practical experience, thinking outside the box, multiple intellignece, all those non-acdemic skills, and I have a feeling India isn’t all that far off. Its precisely because of this problem that INdia and China, together accounting for almost half of humanity, hasn’t already become the world leader in science and technology.
On the other hand, from the people I knew back in highschool, they won’t be doing much creative thinking or thinking outside the box anytime soon, its one thing to have the skill but not have practical experience, but trust me, without those skill you won’t be getting any practical experience anytime soon.
The US should learn the good aspect of China and India’s education system, not blindly copy it. By the same token India and China have equal amount to learn from the US. The only problem is, if US fixes the problem with its education system, it saves its future, but if China and India fixes their problems, their science and technology capacity will dwarf the US. Eitherway I won’t be very optimistic about the future if I were an American.
Honestly, I only skimmed much of this post as tantrums are not my thing, but I must applaud Mr. Compton for putting out his views and perceptions and then explaining his position here – and with his own name, by the way, not “a parent” or “Albert (fill in the various blanks),” or such. Kudos for standing up and being counted, whether I agree or not is irrelevant.
A second to Marshall!!!
Tantrum is a great word for what is a lot of the above.
My thought for the day.
Agree to disagree without tearing down.
I wlll watch 2 Million Minutes: A Global Examination.
Many people will, and then I and they ,will agree or disagree and let the conversation begin.
“Just look at all the Asian-American kids passed over in favor of non-Asians with lower GPA’s and SAT’s but who shine in sports and other extracurriculars.” If they were to consider only GPA/SAT you won’t find any non-asians in the elite colleges. They know that.
ALL OF THIS IS COMPLETELY RELEVANT. PERIOD.
NO EXCUSES. PLEASE stop making excuses…we MUST compare ourselves to the highest of standards, always and live our lives in efforts to achieve the best we are capable of!
We cannot afford to worry about ‘content’ children or teens—we need to inspire them to learn and desire to be above the rest–that knowledge IS Powerful—
What you should worry about is the fact that there will be NO JOBS HERE in America unless students understand the urgency and the responsibilities that lie on them to compete in a global economy. period. How content will they be then?
I am a teacher, and I desire to teach to the highest of standards. There is intense lack of discipline and self-discipline within our young people. So few students are prepared for the global situation…the best and brightest of our groups have ALOT to compete against–and those few KNOW this. They are trying to do so much, with very little support in our educational structure…because we are too busy taking care of those that can’t take care of themselves…
To NOT compare ourselves to other countries, is to be blind at our fate to come. I’ve seen it. My old company outsourced their IT department and most of their HR dept. TO Costa Rica! Each time you had to call to change a password or ask a payroll question, you called Costa Rica when you picked up the phone.
It IS happening. We don’t have time for excuses. We have to inspire our youth to desire something greater then the next big video game release or fashion trend.
I’m Deeply Concerned about the future of the USA.
P.s I DO give homework over the summer 😉 —and they LOVE it…They have developed a hunger for knowledge, and you would be surprised HOW many children TRULY DO LOVE TO LEARN…THEY ARE MORE then Content–they are Fullfilled!
This is the thing that bothers me about the whole thesis; the success of China and India isn’t theirs, it’s American (and Japanese and South Korean) success, it’s just been outsourced.
The Chinese economic miracle and the success of India are not the results of indigenous efforts to compete like South Korea’s Samsung. They’re strictly the results of having a drastically cheaper labor cost, not by added value.
The global economy is a joke. It’s a race to the bottom. The idea of the global economy has no benefit except to the owners and shareholders of successful industries in the first world. Americans are not competing globally. You can’t when the dollar is worth so much more than the yuan or the rupee. Corporations in the US do not want to compete, they want quick, huge profits in China and India.
You aren’t competing globally. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you want $16/hr for a job and someone is willing to do it for 89 cents/hr.
There is exactly zero point in Americans pursuing high tech careers. We have numerous engineers, designers and other highly educated professionals who can’t find work. High tech jobs require a high tech industrial base manufacturing goods indigenously. The only profitable careers in America are in medicine, finance and law. We’re turning those people out in spades.
We’re not being out innovated. We’re being brain-drained. The Chinese government is increasingly mandating that overseas companies do their engineering in China. Why should an American student bust their tail to get say, a masters in chemical engineering when there is nothing for them to do with it here?
At some point the Tatas and Norincos are going to have to compete globally under their own brands. I know China and India want this but there is a time limit. As their economies grow eventually you’ll see conditions hit the point where Indian and Chinese (well maybe just Indian, remember the key point of devaluing the yuan is to keep the majority of the Chinese population employed, thus staving off civil unrest) workers cost too much, first world corporations will move production to The Philippines, Southern Sudan and Belarus. Of course if the American economy totally collapses by then it won’t matter. No one will be able to afford Buicks and iPads anyway.
All of this was what we heard about the Japanese in the 80s. The hyper-motivated, hyper-educated, hyper-ambitious Japanese worker would destroy us all. Today, Japan still isn’t over it’s lost decade.