A Tanked Tiger

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April 10, 2011 by David Gillaspie


Tiger Mom’s have their day.  Push the kids, then push them some more. 

Push them until they say they’ll push their own kids the same way.

That’s the white flag from the kid, but Tiger Mom still sees red.

Here we sit, the American dunce in the corner wearing the pointy hat, watching.  We’re a joke in the smart magazines.   

We love being dumbed down, but when is it enough?

Do we know our own history?  Not as well as new immigrants.

Do we know how to succeed?  Not as well as new citizens.

Do we know how to be the scapegoat?  Not so well.

America isn’t ranked at the top of any education poll for industrialized nations, yet the world’s brain trust still beats a trail to U.S. schools.  Ask a college kid taking classes taught by English-as-a-fourth-language graduate assistants while a celebrated professor works on his next publication to avoid perishing. 

Are foreign students more motivated than American students?

Imagine a culture where the parents drive their kids so they can all enjoy a better life, a bigger living space, and regular food. 

If little Johnny tested high as a youngster, he’d better keep it up or face the threat of letting his family down.  In some places, letting the family down means a forced move to a less than desirable neighborhood.

No one wants the teacher knocking on your door and telling your family move to 666 S. Crack Alley because you failed advanced calculus in third grade.

If you want to stay somewhere with indoor plumbing, you’d better pass fifth grade Organic Chemistry.

If China is the emerging world leader, where are they emerging from?  What steps have they taken?

A big step came with The Great Leap Forward.  In short, the Great Leap answered the question of how to modernize a vast agricultural nation?

If the answers were Stalin, starvation, and stupidity, then the Great Leap cleared the bar. 

But Stalin isn’t a good answer to anything.  Starvation rewards those who draw the short straw with death; stupidity labels those who keep the policy alive while millions die.

Do current Chinese children know about the Great Leap?  It’s not a big topic at the National History Museum.

With thousands of years of cultural momentum behind it, China stands ready to take its place in front of America and it’s puny centuries of culture borrowed from lesser nations.

Before you hand over the reins, consider a few things first:

Number of colleges in US News and World Report Top 10?

China – 0.  USA – 7

Number of colleges in top 20?

China – 1.  USA – 14

The Chinese drop out of college and learn to drive tanks.

American drop-outs invented Microsoft an Apple. 

The knowledge gap may be wide, but not so wide in the right context.


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