Comments from an outsider

Remember my post complaining about American education? Someone wrote me back about it, and gave me permission to post her response here. What a wonderful surprise!

Yiuka Leung grew up on the outskirts of Hong Kong, and moved to the U.S. for college, so she’s experienced education from both sides. Here’s what she had to say:

“I don’t disagree with what you said, but I wanted to point out that ‘freedom for creativity’ is relative. To me, someone who grew up in Asia and received Asian-style education, education in the U.S. gave me a lot more room to develop my own personal interests than I would ever hope for in Asia.

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Educational theory

I sent a letter to really early this morning asking if they have any internships available. They’d be a perfect fit for me, and I for them, I’m convinced.

After I sent the message, I started to think about education again, because I had linked to a couple of my favorite articles in the message.

These articles are The Case for Working With Your Hands and End the University As We Know It, the first from New York Times Magazine and the second an op-ed contribution to The New York Times.

They, along with this very popular lecture on about education, represent my current philosophy on the topic.

That philosophy:

  • the current system of western education—the system the entire world is modeling—does not address real-world problems.
  • the current system does not fulfill people’s need to do physical things and to see a result of their work.
  • the current system stifles creativity by penalizing the “mistakes” and “failures” that are part of the creative process
  • The current system places the most importance on those areas of study that assist a move toward industrialization, a phase which we have largely passed.

I’m sure I haven’t compressed all the arguments in these two writings and one 17-minute speech, but these are the primary ones. And I haven’t touched on the solutions these men propose, which, albeit vague at times, are nonetheless present. Hey—it’s better than remaining where we are today.

I read an article (although I can’t find it anymore) that said despite all the hype of rising powers like China and India, America will still triumph in the 21st century because of the freedom it allows for creativity. My opinion? We may allow creative freedoms in our marketplace, but our people are being steered down wrong paths to begin with, and that’s severely limiting our creativity as a whole, before we even leave the starting gates.