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January 30, 2004
Spellbound Reynolds

I seem to be focussing on movies about education a lot just now. I'm not the only one. Professor Glenn Reynolds has been watching Spellbound, the documentary movie about a spelling competition in America:

And that's another thing that struck me: It is a cliché to say that all the contestants in a national competition like the Spelling Bee are winners, but it's true. Watching these kids, I knew that they would all do fine in life. The qualities of focus, discipline, perseverance, and coolness under pressure that such contests require aren't the stuff of many movies about adolescents. But they serve people well later in life, as I'm sure these kids will discover. It's nice to see a film that makes that point, too.

And in his next and latest MSN column he explicitly links this to the quality of US education.With characteristic generosity, Reynolds includes links to other education bloggers (by the way that is not a snide way of complaining that I got excluded this blog would not have been appropriate for the Prof's purposes):

There are a lot of educational bloggers who cover these kinds of topics in a lot more depth than I can. Joanne Jacobs (from whose blog these examples come) and Kimberly Swygert are two good examples, and their blogs have links to many more. You should also look at Erin O'Connor blog, Critical Mass, which does the same thing for higher education.

This stuff matters. America is richer than the rest of the world because we have smart people who work hard, under a system that encourages them to do so by letting them keep (most of) the fruits of their labor. But America's wealth isn't a birthright. Like our freedom, it has to be earned by each successive generation. It can't be protected by legislation, it can only be protected by hard work.

Part of that hard work lies in educating the next generation. It's pretty clear that we're dropping the ball in that department. Instead of worrying about outsourcing, maybe we should be worrying about that.

The examples from Joanne Jacobs were quotes from other people.

Anyway, is America dropping the ball? It doesn't look that way to me, but maybe they are. Certainly these Indian computer programmers have got them scared. Anyway, the answer is for the American home-schooling movement to rise up and conquer the entire country.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:36 PM
Category: Literacy
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