I am continuing to read The World Is Flat, which was highly recommended to me. It's very eye-opening, and I have to say, unless Jesus comes back in the near future, the US is going to necessarily go through some dramatic changes, regardless of what happens in politics. America, and most of the western world, has a culture of laziness, and we will destroy our competitiveness if we are not careful.
The Internet, along with all the new technologies that have been invented for it, means that people can do all sorts of jobs from all over the world. I personally have only been to my office once, and that was when I was hired. I have only met my boss twice; I'm not even sure if I've ever met the person that hands me assignments every week; I think that he was hired after I was. Outside of writing, other jobs are being worked on all over the world too, from call centers to designing aircraft.
So what does this mean for us? This means that no matter where you live, you can get a job. This also means, that no matter where someone else lives, they can get a job. They can get your job. The person that gets the best work in the future is the person that can do it the best, whether they live in Los Angeles, New York, Beijing, or Bombay.
There's a problem in the United States though, although apparently it's affecting all of western culture (I was just reading an article yesterday about how Great Britain was emphasizing fun over competition. While there's nothing wrong with having fun, at the same time, we need to strive to be the best.
I'm always hearing about "no child left behind" in education today. This doesn't mean that all the children are going to be pulled along by the smartest students; it's nearly the opposite. The smartest children are being held back in their studies so that the slowest child in the class can catch up. This not only hurts the smartest children, it hurts our country.
I know what it's like to be "held back" in school. Not a grade level, mind you, but having to relearn junk that I already knew. Bo-ring. A perfect illustration of this was when I was in seventh grade. I had been in the gifted program for a couple of years at that point, but in the seventh grade, I was first on the waiting list, so I ended up in the classroom with the normal kids. Now, I love to learn (even today), but I wasn't learning anything in this class. I didn't do the homework like I should have, and I was getting a D in the class. My teacher was quite surprised when I got an A on the first test. Fortunately, after the first quarter, someone dropped out of the gifted program, and I was in a more interesting class, where we read books like Lord of the Flies and actually learned something. Similarly, I didn't do my homework in Algebra either. Our teacher let us correct our own papers... I would do one assignment, he'd return it, and then the next day, I'd change the date on it, draw a picture over the percentage, and recycle the assignment for another day (I don't know how I pulled that one off). Still, I pulled in As on the tests.
While I don't advocate cheating, I bet there's a lot of bored, intelligent kids in this country that are doing the same things today. These kids could be doing a lot more than they are doing, yet they are being held back for one reason or another. Some schools have gifted programs, yet they might not be big enough for the kids that need them. Other normal kids are being kept from living up to their potential because they're "teaching to the test" and don't get in-depth in a subject. How fun would "teaching to the test" be to someone that already understood the subject they were teaching?
Then there's the "everybody gets a trophy" mentality. My seven-year-old gets a trophy every year for soccer. It's the highlight of the soccer year. That and snacks. While it's probably fine to give all the five-year-olds trophies, at some point you need to start rewarding the people that do well. You need to motivate them to do better.
It has long been "uncool" to be smart. If you want to learn, people think that there's something wrong with you. It's worse in some cultures. If we as a society are going to succeed against the Indians and the Chinese, we are going to have to change that. I wasn't alive in the '50s and '60s where we were trying to build up our space program and outsmart the Russians, but I'm guessing that those kids studied.
In some ways, I push my daughter at school. She's learning Chinese. She's a grade ahead in math. We're learning American history and world history. She wasn't "getting" spelling, so we started from the beginning, using another program, and she's doing much better than that. I don't want things to be so difficult that she's frustrated, but at the same time, I don't want them to be easy for her either.
We can't sit back and assume that there will be good jobs here in the future just because we are Americans. If we want to keep the good jobs, we need to fight for them.