Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And you thought foreigners are smart ~

A recent study showed that most young Americans entering university this year can't write in cursive, think email is too slow, that Beethoven is a dog and.. Michelangelo is a computer virus o.O

The annual study, compiled by Professor Tom McBride of Beloit College and former public affairs director Ron Nief, dubbed "The Mindset List", provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college every year.

For the 2010 intake (students who would obtain their Bachelor degree by 2014), the students were unaware of the existence of Czechoslovakia (Separated to Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993).

They were not the only generation capable of exhibiting imbecile mindset;

For those who were born in 1981, featured in 1999 mindset list; Yugoslavia never existed and they were baffled why Solidarity was sometimes spelled with the capital S.

For the class of 2006; born 1984 and featured in the 2002 list; Apartheid never existed in South Africa.

For the class of 2007; born 1985 and featured in 2003 list; Banana Republic is the name of a store. Great.

Few students in the class of 2009 knew how to tie a tie and most thought Iran and Iraq had never been at war with each other.

Well, I got to know from somewhere that Asians are typically better at memorizing thing and also having better general knowledge. Statistically, we are better than most western student during adolescence period, but upon reaching adulthood our mind starts to deteriorate.

Our education system ensures that we are equipped with basic skills. But when it comes to advance level, where creativity and imagination come into play, we lag behind and really suck at it.

Why? Well nobody has the solution, but one possibility is that our education system (be it in Malaysia, Singapore, or China) is too exam-oriented.

This is obvious in Singapore and China, where 2nd class talents are rejected a place in the government and thus forced to seek opportunity elsewhere.

The so called 2nd class talents of China and Singapore are flourishing in prestigious institutions like National University of Singapore and National University of Australia, and because their institutions are much wealthier than those in China, they have the freedom and financial power to finance their research.

Now to the west, they equip their children not only with basic skills, but also creativity and imagination which are very important in research and development. Ever wonder why Albert Einstein could think of the curvature of spacetime? How could Stephen Hawking study blackhole without moving a pen? It's all down to brain power.

It is, however, imperative to understand that not everyone can be a prodigy, even in America. Their scientists are smarter simply because their education system encourages creativity, and their institutions are far more historic (Cambridge is a milennia old, UM is only a century old o.O). Moreover, the amount of budget allocated by their government for education is far greater than ours, so... relatively speaking we are not very far behind really.





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