I have to agree in many ways. While it’s certainly not at full-force as too many are left under-educated and poor in China, the population getting an education will be competing heavily with Americans in the next century. Susan Jacoby’s entry in a related Room for Debate post sums it up:
…But the utilitarian problem — we don’t have enough diplomats, spies and business people who know other languages — is rooted in the much larger dumbing down of the American concept of what it means to be an educated person. Most states have dropped foreign language requirements for high school graduation, and most students complete college without studying any foreign language. We’re a Know-As-Little-As-You Can-Get-Away-With Nation and proud of it.
As an American public school teacher, I had to sigh with a bit of truth as I read the original article’s description of students responding to the teacher. Call me old-fashioned, but education in America has babied students for too long. Moreover, any educators who do NOT baby students are left with obstacles greater than the teacher – overactive parents, consumer-gotta-have-it-now culture, and test score-obsessed administrators make a teachers’ job impossible.
It will be interesting to see what will happen in Taiwan. I don’t expect a complete walk in the park as my students ARE kids after all. I do, however, expect students to be overall more serious about their daily class time – maybe this will be the case… maybe not.
In other education-related news, Mrs. Mimi has a great – but unfortunately usual – post about our country not valuing teachers. I wonder if living in a culture where teachers have their own religious holiday will change things?
One can hope.
Now back to my own language lessons… hmmm…