New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and billionaire Bill Gates and gadfly Michelle Rhee wring their hands over American students’ test scores. They look enviously at Shanghai and wonder why we can’t be like them.
But the Los Angeles Times had a story explaining that Chinese educators have mixed feelings about those high test scores. They know that they are squeezing the joy of learning out of their schools and pressuring children to grind, grind, grind. They worry that their students lack creativity and imagination.
Before we follow China’s example, we should think about the qualities that we value. Do we want good test-takers or do we want creativity and innovation? Do we want obedient and compliant workers or do we want divergent thinkers? Which will serve us better in the decades ahead?