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While liberal arts decline in U.S., China and other economic rivals add them

The Hechinger Report – Ben Wildavsky

“Businessman Po Chung might seem an unlikely advocate for the virtues of a U.S.-style liberal education. Cofounder of the Asia Pacific branch of shipping giant DHL, Chung is a rags-to-riches entrepreneur whose success is emblematic of the former colony’s hard-driving capitalist culture. But he’s also one of the leading advocates for adding a big dose of humanities and social sciences to the curriculum of Hong Kong’s universities. Chung and other backers of an unprecedented three-year-old reform effort are determined to move the city’s eight universities away from the rote learning, test obsession and narrow career focus that still characterize much of the Asian education system. They think it’s past time for colleges to introduce a broader range of subjects, to promote greater intellectual curiosity, and to foster creative thinking. And they’re convinced that these changes will, in turn, build a workforce of rigorous, creative thinkers — just what they think is needed to meet the fast-changing needs of a transforming economy.”(more)

Asia Leads The World In The Feat Of Reciting Thousands Of Pi Digits

NPR – Malaka Gharib

“Today is Pi Day, a time to celebrate the never-ending number that helps us calculate the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Here in the U.S., Pi Day has officially become a “thing” — for example, today at Whole Foods, you can get slices of pie for $3.14, and if you can solve math problems from a Princeton professor, Pizza Hut will give you 3.14 years’ worth of free pizza. The developing world, which we cover in this blog, loves its pi, too.”(more)

How ‘Smart’ Do You Need to Be to Do Science?

The Huffington Post – Melanie Fine

“…just how smart do you have to be to become a scientist? The better question is, “How hard am I willing to work to become good at science and math? There’s a belief in the United States that there are two types of people — those who are good at math, and those who aren’t. And yet, studies have shown very few, if any, genetic differences between a strong mathematician and someone “not good at math.” The reason is clear. Everyone has the capacity to be successful at math…In the book Intelligence and How to Get It, Richard E. Nisbett writes about how Chinese, Japanese and Korean educational systems focus more on hard work than on natural abilities…When Asian students perform poorly, they work harder at it. When American students perform poorly, they often blame the test, the teacher, or their own inabilities. Rarely do they attribute poor performance on lack of effort.”(more)

Ni Hao! Say Hyderabadis

The Times of India – Preeti Biswas

“As trade relations with China are poised to grow deeper across the twin states, hundreds of people are opting to learn Mandarin, which has already emerged as the trade language in Asia…”Mandarin is becoming a widely spoken language across the world. Unlike French, which has reached a saturation point, the demand for Mandarin is quite high. We are teaching the language to students at a young age keeping in mind the opportunity in the language,” said Emerald Chio, a Chinese national, who now lives in Hyderabad.”(more)

Schools can — and should — teach more than discipline

The Seattle Times – Jerry Large

“Dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline doesn’t require more information or analysis. It requires a will to change strong enough to produce sustained, effective action. Someone said that the other night at a meeting about the pipeline. And a lot of people said what a lot of people have been saying for a very long time, the gist being don’t criminalize kids, educate them. Well, maybe it takes repetition to sink in deep enough to matter. Here’s a definition of the pipeline: “ … the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” That’s from the American Civil Liberties Union, one of numerous organizations working nationally to fix what’s wrong. Schools went along with the tough-on-crime, no-tolerance attitude that swept politics and the criminal-justice system in the 1980s. The result has been a huge increase in the number of children suspended or expelled, often for classroom behavior that could be dealt with productively if it were treated as a teaching opportunity.”(more)

Study Highlights Striking Racial and Gender Gaps in High School STEM

Education Week – Liana Heitin

“While male and female students are earning high school math and science credits at similar rates, boys are still significantly more likely to take engineering and technology classes and to consider pursuing postsecondary STEM majors, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ latest update of the 2009 High School Transcript Study, released late last month. The results also reveal stark differences in how high school students of different races are earning STEM credits.”(more)