The New York Times had a front-page story about a generational divide in Japan.
The article begins, “As Japan has ceded dominance in industry after industry that once lifted this nation to economic greatness, there has been plenty of blame to go around. A nuclear disaster that raised energy costs. A lack of entrepreneurship. China’s relatively cheap work force.”
The article says that the government’s decision to have a strong yen favors the elderly and protects their pensions, but makes Japanese products prohibitively expensive, which is “hollowing out the country’s industrial base” and “exacerbating the nation’s two-decade-long economic stagnation.”
As I read the article, I thought about how American policymakers look enviously at Japan’s high test scores on international assessments.
And it struck me that the economic problems in Japan are not caused by the schools. And the high test scores are not a source of entrepreneurship, nor have they guaranteed a strong economy.
All this deserves consideration. In our nation, our greatest strength is creativity, innovation, risk-taking, and imagination.
Now our policymakers want us to use Japan and other nations with high test scores as a model, claiming that this will lead us to even greater economic growth in the future.
Japan’s dilemma today disproves the theory on which contemporary corporate-driven school reform is based.
Let us learn from their example.
Economic decisions drive the economy. Creative people build a better economy. Higher test scores do not produce a better economy, nor do they nurture the creative genius needed for future innovation.
Will there be an “aha!” moment when leaders of the corporate reform movement realize they are on the wrong track?