After a rambling start about learning to love learning, Thomas Friedman’s New York Times’ column gets serious about the consequences of not getting serious about high-quality education.
I just interviewed Craig Barrett, the chief executive of Intel, which has invested millions of dollars in trying to improve the way science is taught in U.S. schools. (The Wall Street Journal noted yesterday that China is graduating four times the number of engineers as the U.S.; Japan, with less than half our population, graduates double the number.)
In today’s flat world, Mr. Barrett said, Intel can be a totally successful company without ever hiring another American. That is not its desire or intention, he said, but the fact is that it can now hire the best brain talent “wherever it resides.”
If you look at where Intel is making its new engineering investments today, he said, it is in China, India, Russia, Poland and, to a lesser extent, Malaysia and Israel. While cutting-edge talent is still being grown in America, he added, it’s not enough for Intel’s needs, and not enough is being done in U.S. public schools – not just to leave no child behind, but to make sure that the best students and teachers are nurtured and rewarded.
Friedman says he can’t remember what he learned from his favorite teachers, but it’s enough that he loved learning it. He’s not serious. I’ve never encountered anyone who (a) knew how to learn and (b) knew nothing.