Niall Ferguson: Did He Miss the Learning ‘App’?
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Those ‘apps’ included:
- Scientific Revolution
- Property Rights
- Modern Medicine
- Consumer Society
- The Work Ethic
Although he speaks about standardized testing and rote memory plights within the TED talk (see below), I wondered aloud whether a 7th app might be missing from his chat.
The learning app.
As North America struggles (and occasionally succeeds) at a transformation to 21st century learning, India and China are also struggling simply to get their population more educated.
According to India government statistics, only a quarter of students make it past eighth grade & only 15% make it to high school. Of the approximate 220 million who start school, only about 7% graduate.
Over in China, the country spends only 3.2% of its GDP on education vs. 5% for the United States. Furthermore, according to Businessweek, by 2020, the Chinese government wants 85% of its age eligible citizens in high school and it’s aiming for university enrollment to exceed 40%. (over in the USA, the high school enrollment rate is 93% & university enrollment is 60%.)
If the West, China or India did sort out its education issues, making it a new (and absolute) priority for its citizens, I’m certain it could easily become a 7th app … using Ferguson’s lexicon.
Back in 2006, Vivek Wadhwa dispelled the myth that India and China were producing better (and to a degree more) engineers than the United States. That’s one measure going against Ferguson’s overarching theory that China and India are taking over the West in all facets of his 6 apps of prosperity theory.
Nevertheless, I wonder if ‘the learning app’ might be worth our collective consideration as a means to societal prosperity. If India, China or the West actually sorts it out, perhaps that is another ‘game changer’.