I had the fortunate circumstance to screen this movie at the Teaching and Learning ’08 celebration on March 8th. What surprised me the most was how passionate the man who made the movie, Bob Compton, was. Bob Compton is an entrepreneur and has owned companies and invested in companies all around the world. As an owner, he noticed that positions that he could not find US employees for, he could find globally. After noticing a pattern of the areas of the world where his developers were being hired from: Bio-Tech from China and Engineers from India, he decided to put together a documentary to try and find out what factors may have contributed to this and whether it was embedded in their educational system. What the movie shows, is that young children in foreign countries are sometimes groomed to become engineers and other professionals. In a session during which first graders are asked what they would like to be when they grow up, they say with great surety: engineer, doctor, engineer, engineer. Their exposure to science and math professions from their parents and communities seems to be greater than the exposure given to students in the U.S. The movie implies that recreational activities and sports are less emphasized than in the U.S.
In the latest OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) report on science and math assessments, the U.S. scored lower than the average when compared to the various countries included in the consortium. (See full report attached) I read that Mike Keany has purchased the movie and look forward to viewing it again. I strongly urge those of you who are able to screen the movie to do so. While it may not spell the “whole” story of education completely, it does offer insight into why other countries seem to be generating more science and technology students in the workforce.
So my question is…what are we doing or what can we be doing to further the cause for science and math in our schools? Do you believe it is more important to focus on these areas rather than others? Does your district have an Intel science track at the MS or HS level? Do you have Math academies? School to career programs? Please share…

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I am glad that Bob Compton made such an effort to capture daily (learning) activities of these six students from three difficult countries. I am sure the film will be a great source for modern day international education comparative studies as well as rich topics for dinner table conversations.
Originally from China and frequently going back to China for academic exchange and family visits, I have observed significant differences between the two educational systems in terms of funding structure, administration, curriculum and instruction, school scheduling, socio-economic status of teachers, work ethics, and parental involvement and been ambivelant about one system over the other. To a great extent, I have significant concerns over the way students in China are learning under enormous and unhealthy pressure. But the digitally flattened world and global economy has somehow shed different shades of light onto the two systems, which is worth a look from the new perspective or with a different lense. (I have to stop here to catch my ride.)
Dear Blanca:

I purchased this video myself for private viewing and I encouraged Western Suffolk BOCES to purchase a license for group viewing. I hope to put together an opportunity for educators to see the film and discuss it afterward.

I am very concerned about this problem. Bill Gates testified to Congress recently to ask them to raise the number of engineers who can enter our country on visas because we are not able to find (or grow) our own talent.
Dear Mike,
I spoke to various organizations this week about the movie - one being the LIA who was interested in the details. I've sent the link to them to see if we can view it in our Education committee. It surely makes a statement about the workforce that is available in the US. Here on LI, we have companies such as Symbol Technologies, Grumman, OSI Pharmaceuticals, Brookhaven labs, etc. that would benefit from having a local workforce. With a recession looming (some say its here already), keeping our workforce partnerships strong could help us weather the economic storm. LI Works is one organization that promotes business and educational partnerships. Are there any others that we can connect to, to discuss this issue further?

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