Tuesday, October 05, 2010

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, I have to ask my Republican friends a question here: Do you think that China is cutting back on education?


THE PRESIDENT:  Do you think that South Korea is making it harder for their citizens to get a college education?


THE PRESIDENT:  These countries aren't playing for second place. And let me tell you something, the United States of America doesn't play for second place, either. We play for first place, Wisconsin. We play for first place. (Applause.)
Obama's Speech at the University of Wisconsin [Real Clear Politics]

Interesting, for so many reasons. Just to list a few:

- Does President Obama know how much Koreans hate their educational system, and praise the American educational system?

- Obama is appealing explicitly to American nationalism. Will it hold? Especially on liberal college kids who are more prone to believe that America is supposed to help other countries, not compete against them?

- Obama talks about Korea a lot; not only about education, but also about the auto industry, for example. Does Korea really deserve that status as America's competitor?



  1. Does President Obama know that only 10% of the population has the ability to handle real college-level coursework?


    Does President Obama know that we have an education bubble, and that we can't afford to fund marginal students who may or not be learning anything at college?



    Coercing everyone (or to use the liberal term "giving them the opportunity") to go to college is a dumb idea that will not benefit this country.

    More vocational programs, more tracking, less "college" students who don't study.

    Lastly, does President Obama know that Korean food is superior to American food?

    Kimchi FTW.

  2. Does President Obama know how much Koreans hate their educational system, and praise the American educational system?

    Hating or enjoying your education system is quite far away from the goal of an education system: imparting knowledge.

  3. Dear the Korean,

    As a Vietnamese student who's attending an American liberal arts college, I have an answer for the confusion over the American educational system's superiority/inferiority.

    It's true that we Asians hate our deadly boring and methodological education, and love the American higher education.

    However Pres. Obama is mainly alluding to the broken K-12 system, which is dysfunctional beyond any doubt. Asian students are not at all envying for the American K-12 (well, except some that may have an innate lust for sloppy and non-challenging works.)

    Long story short: America's higher education rocks (and Asians love it!). America's K-12 sucks. Asians would hate it if they got the chance to know the system (which they don't, because overseas, only American higher education receives the envy and the attention). Clear distinction. No confusion.

    This has been my long-held comparative view about the two educational systems. I'm happy to see any faults pointed out.


  4. Having read the actual transcript (which I should have done in the first place), I know there aren't conclusive proofs that Obama is referring to the K-12 (and not the higher education.) But well, his motivation for this speech is not so much to enlighten the audience but to muster some partisan rage for the election season... so... let's not get caught up with what he says :D and focus on the comparison of the two educational system as a issue independent of this politically driven speech.

  5. Is this the same 'The Korean' that left three comments on my recent post about education? The two attitudes expressed here and there seem contrary to each other.

    America and Korea have complementary skills and benefits to their educational systems (Korea's is arguably more effective, America's is arguably more creative)

    @The Asian of Reason: Would you tell the millions of students 'unqualified for college' what exactly they're supposed to do with their lives? Even something as blue-collar as auto mechanic requires education beyond high school. Garbagemen need not attend classes on calculus, of course, but is that what people should be aspiring to?

  6. anhqle,

    The Korean agrees that America's higher education is the best in the world. But Koreans in Korea actually admire the whole of America's system, including K-12. This is mostly borne out of not knowing enough about America, but they admire nonetheless.


    That's why this post only had questions (not statements,) and concludes with "Hmmmmmmm." The Korean's question is more like "Can Obama sell a foreign system that those same foreigners hate?"

  7. I'd point out that Wisconsin is not a particularly blue state (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election_in_Wisconsin,_2008) hence Obama's 'Republican friends' bit, to whom 'competition' and sports narratives come easily; as well, manufacturing is hurting in Wisconsin (http://www.biztimes.com/daily/2010/8/23/wisconsin-manufacturing-employment-down-25-percent-this-year).

  8. Well, several US States are apparently moving towards a system somewhat akin to Korea's k-12, (as far as direct knowledge goes, maybe I should only speak of high schools) in that students will pass a class no matter what their grade is. 10% in Algebra 1? Then you go to Algebra 2. I was shocked when I found out that high school students in Korea cannot, categorically, fail any of their classes. My coworkers were shocked to hear that American high schools students could fail a class and be required to retake it.
    However, in the absence of a comprehensive, accurate statistical set I don't think any truly meaningful comparisons can take place: good Korean schools in k-12 are good, if they succeed in educating their students. Good k-12 schools in the USA are good if they do likewise, and many do. There are plenty of crap schools in the States, and I know firsthand that there are plenty of crap schools in Korea where students know nothing about anything besides pop music videos and online MMORPGs. (Having been required to sign off on the sheet listing their names, classes, and final grades in each class as both teachers and students are required to do.)
    But I totally agree that Obama should stop referring to educational systems that he knows absolutely nothing about firsthand. It makes for mysterious and fiery rhetoric, though, referring to vague foreign systems against which you're inclined to think you must compete.

  9. Yes.

    I went to high school and college in America, and I've missed the Korean education system ever since.


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