It’s that time of year again. School bells are ringing, (well, actually none of the schools I ever went to had bells – they opted for the more annoying alarm-esque steady digital tone) and children are returning to school. The school yards are different, even from my elementary school days less than 15 years ago. The teeter totters and merry-go-rounds have been removed and replaced with environmentally friendly, super safe, rubber rocks. Yes, education has changed in this country.
One thing I vividly remember learning as early as second grade, was about the many explorers and adventurers of Christopher Columbus’ day. There were explorers like Vasco DaGama, who discovered the oversea trade route to India around Africa. There was Columbus, who defied all science and tradition by going west, and discovering the “new world.” There was Magellan, whose voyage ended as the first to circumnavigate the entire earth, exploring the terrible freezing passages of South American straits. The list continues: Leif Erikson, Henry Hudson, Bartholomeu Dias, & Pedro Cabral. While the accuracy of what I learned has been dramatically called into question by today’s historicity, the important thing is, this is what I remember learning when I was in the second grade.
With that in mind, let me brazenly shift gears. Many Americans are afraid of India and China, the world’s largest emerging markets. How can a country as relatively small as America have any chance of competing with countries with such vast human resources?
The answer comes from what I learned in second grade.
Americans are explorers. We are adventurers. We are innovators. We lead the world in technology, and have done so through the 20th centry. We pioneered the digital/information age, and remain at it’s forefront. Even though China and India can manufacture and produce products at much lower cost, the intellectual property and innovation which makes those product possible is still originating from this country.
So as we watch our educational system evolve, as it will inevitably do. Let’s keep talking about the explorers and the adventurers. Lets promote and enhance innovation, creativity, and change in our public and private universities. Therein lies the key to preserving our status as the world’s greatest ideological superpower.