We’ve been hearing it for years, of course.
A report prepared by US national academies warns that the US leadership in science and technology may soon be a thing of the past. The world’s only superpower faces competition from all over the world due to globalisation driven by advances in communication technology.
The question we need to ask ourselves, as Americans, is “Is our children learning?” To which I respond, “No, they isn’t1.”
Not only are American students far behind in math and science when it comes to standardized tests, but the climate in America has grown downright hostile to technical fields. Sure, part of it has to do with being able to outsource technical work to India cheaply, but a lot of companies find that the quality just isn’t there: an 8-year-old Bangladeshi can make your shirts, but he can’t take technical support calls very well.
What really surprised me from the article was that “Very few US undergraduate students—merely 6%—take up science and engineering[.]” I had no idea the number was that low, and it is frightening to think that there are so many things here which stifle innovation: monopolies, ridiculous patent laws, corporations that treat their technical people like 8-year-old Bangladeshis. In the scientific (rather than technical) fields, one only has to look at the current government’s general attitude towards science (hint: whatever lobbyists tell it to think) to figure out why Europe and Asia are overtaking us.
- Hit tip: Franken.[↩]