Is the 'Tiger Mom' controversy misunderstood?
February 7th, 2014
06:14 PM ET

Is the 'Tiger Mom' controversy misunderstood?

GPS Digital Producer Jason Miks speaks with Amy Chua, a law professor at Yale, and her husband Jed Rubenfeld, also a professor at Yale, about their new bookThe Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America,’ and what it means to be a Tiger Mom. Watch Fareed’s interview with Chua and Rubenfeld this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Your 2011 book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, sparked an intense debate with its look at the differences between Chinese and Western parenting. What are the key characteristics of a Tiger Mom?

Chua: I would say extremely high expectations, high discipline and definitely unconditional love. And I think high expectations are absolutely consistent with unconditional love. To me, a Tiger Mom is the opposite of a Helicopter Mom – a Helicopter Mom wants to make things easier for her kids, and I think a Tiger Parent is actually thinking about strengthening the child for the future. And so it’s kind of a long term project, and often it can feel like actually putting obstacles in front of your child, whereas a Helicopter Parent is someone who is wanting to do everything for their child. A Tiger Parent is basically saying “Let me put some obstacles in your way so you can train, so that when you go out into the real world, it will be easier.”

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Topics: China • Education
December 15th, 2013
11:28 AM ET

What education lessons can U.S. learn from overseas?

Fareed speaks with Wendy Kopp, the CEO and co-founder of Teach for All and the founder of Teach for America, about improving education in the United States.

So what seemed to be the best practices that are applicable?

Kopp: I mean just to go back to the Shanghai example, it was about teachers. It's also about school leaders.  And it's about, you know, system leadership. We were blown away by the caliber of the folks who have, over a long time, driven the change. And if you get under the covers, some Shanghai schools are stronger than others. And they take those school principals who are running the best schools and pair them up with the principals at the other schools so that they can transfer the practices. Like this is a people business. I actually couldn't agree more that technology can give a ton of leverage to really strong people.

But to me, and this is what Teach for All is all about, but we've got to start channeling our top talent toward this challenge of improving educational outcomes and especially taking on educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged kids. And that needs to happen all across the world.

Watch the video for the second half of the panel or tune into GPS today at 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

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Topics: Education • United States
December 15th, 2013
11:01 AM ET

'An absolute wake-up call for America'

“An absolute wake-up call for America.” That’s what U.S. Education Secretary Arnie Duncan called the recent release of test scores showing how American kids compared with their peers around the world. The test is called the Program for International Student Assessment or PISA. Here's how American kids ranked: 17th of 34 countries in reading, 21st in science, 26th in math, which doesn't look good.

How do we improve them? We have a terrific panel. Joel Klein is the former chancellor of New York City's school system. Wendy Kopp is the CEO and co-founder of Teach for All and the founder of Teach for America. Sal Khan, well, Sal Khan is one of the most innovative educators in the world and of course the founder of Khan Academy. And Tom Friedman is the three-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times.

Watch the video for the panel or tune into GPS today at 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

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Topics: Education • United States
December 5th, 2013
11:48 PM ET

Is the U.S. making the grade in education?

By Fareed Zakaria

The United States has done very well in harnessing the talents of its top 1 percent and in attracting the top 1 percent from the rest of the world to live and work here. These are the engines of innovation, growth and dynamism. But the country’s vast middle class — and below — has seen its wages stagnate for three decades. And this is getting worse as technology and globalization depress job prospects for people in the middle.

The real story of these tests has been “the rise of the rest.” The United States has muddled along over the past few decades, showing little improvement or decline. Meanwhile, countries including South Korea and Singapore have skyrocketed to the top, and now China, Vietnam and Poland are doing astonishingly well. These countries have workers whose productivity levels have been rising in tandem with their educational achievements.

There are many reasons, but to put it simply, many of these countries are playing to win.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Education • United States
Zakaria: U.S. must spend more on education for poorer children
December 4th, 2013
10:39 AM ET

Zakaria: U.S. must spend more on education for poorer children

The latest results of a new global exam given to 15 year-olds showed American students to be average in science and reading and below average in math. There were little or no gains in the last decade, while other countries raced ahead of the United States. Anderson Cooper speaks with Fareed and Amanda Ripley, author of the Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way, about why children in Shanghai and Finland seem to be doing so much better. This is an edited version of the transcript.

Fareed, this latest study is one of a continuing string of studies that shows the U.S. educational system lagging behind the rest of the world. What do you make of the results?

Zakaria: The study is very revealing. What it shows is that while we're sort of walking around in one of those people movers going nowhere, the rest of the world, very many countries, are on escalators. What this shows is that it's not so much that we've been doing anything dramatically badly, but in the context in which everybody else is playing to win, we're falling behind badly. And all of a sudden, we look at the difference between us and countries like South Korea and Singapore and it's widening. But increasingly, the gap between us and countries like Poland is also widening.

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Topics: Education • Singapore • South Korea
December 3rd, 2013
12:35 PM ET

What Finland can teach America about education

Fareed speaks with journalist Amanda Ripley, author of 'The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way,' about what other countries can teach the U.S. about education. Watch the video for the full interview.

America is exceptional in many ways. Sadly, secondary education is not one of them. The most recent rankings for the Program for International Student Assessment has American 15 year-olds ranked 14th in reading, 17th  in science and 25th in math, among other developed nations.  Countries like Finland and South Korea always rank near the top.

In a 2011 GPS special, we went to those two countries to see what they were doing differently. Investigative journalist Amanda Ripley went one step further. She followed some American kids as they spent a year abroad in high school in those two countries and in Poland. The results are fascinating. The book is called The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way.

Amanda Ripley joins me now. So what did you find about those three countries that struck you? You actually have three models that you say that they represent. What are they?

So, South Korea is the pressure cooker model. The extreme case of what you see all over Asia, where kids are working night and day, literally, under a lot of family pressure, to get very high test scores. Now, South Korea does get those high test scores, but at great cost. So that’s one, the pressure cooker model.

Finland is, in many ways, the opposite extreme of South Korea. Not in all ways, but in some.  And Finland is what I call the utopia model – they've really invested in quality over quantity and the kids are, on average, doing less homework than our kids, but still achieving at the very top of the world on tests of critical thinking and math, reading and science, with very little variation from school to school or from socioeconomic status from one to the other.

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Topics: Education
The right to education is under siege
October 9th, 2013
11:31 AM ET

The right to education is under siege

By Diya Nijhowne, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Diya Nijhowne is the director of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, which was established in 2010 by groups concerned about ongoing attacks on educational institutions, their students, and staff in countries affected by conflict. The views expressed are the author’s own.

One year ago today, Malala Yousefzai and her classmates were on their way home from school in the Swat Valley, Pakistan, when two men stopped their school bus and climbed aboard. Malala described what happened next: “The Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too.”

Although the girls were badly injured, all three thankfully survived. Unfortunately, Malala and her classmates were not the only Pakistani students attacked in the past year. In June, for example, 14 female university students were killed when militants blew up their bus in Quetta, Balochistan, a western province.

Pakistan’s teachers and administrators have also been targeted. Five teachers were killed in January in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. In March, another was shot and killed in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.  A principal and six school children died that month during an attack at their school in Karachi.

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Topics: Education • Women • Youth
August 15th, 2013
12:32 AM ET

Social immobility erodes the American dream

By Fareed Zakaria

A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development points out that the United States is one of only three rich countries that spends less on disadvantaged students than on other students — largely because education funding for elementary and secondary schools in the United States is tied to local property taxes. By definition, poor neighborhoods end up with badly funded schools. In general, the United States spends lots of money on education, but most of it is on college education or is otherwise directed toward those already advantaged in various ways.

There is debate about the effectiveness of certain early education programs such as Head Start. It may be that providing help to “at-risk families” — treating drug-addicted mothers for example — has a bigger impact on children than a specific enrichment program. Though, clearly, most of us believe that these enrichment programs work. Corak points out that the well-off in the United States spend nearly $9,000 a year on books, computers, child care and summer camps — nearly seven times what families in the bottom fifth of earners spend. In fact, this is part of what makes mobility low.

Read the Washington Post for the full column

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Topics: Economy • Education • United States
The Middle East’s science revolution?
June 27th, 2013
09:28 AM ET

The Middle East’s science revolution?

By Shelly Culbertson, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Shelly Culbertson is a senior research manager at the RAND-Qatar Policy Institute in Doha, Qatar. The views expressed are her own.

It’s perhaps inevitable that violence in Iraq, Syria’s civil war, and ongoing unrest in Libya grabs international headlines. But in a part of the world so often associated with strife, significant progress is being made in areas that might come as a surprise to some. Indeed, even as conflict rages, a wave of research and innovation in Arabian Gulf countries is bringing with it significant investment in science and research infrastructure – and even U.S.-style universities.

When I moved to Qatar in 2006 to work at the RAND-Qatar Policy Institute, a partnership between the RAND Corporation and Qatar Foundation, my first project placed me as part of a team to set up the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), a sort-of national science foundation for Qatar. We were a diverse team of Americans, Qataris, Egyptians, and Iraqi scientists who had moved to Qatar for QNRF.

I admit I felt uncomfortable at first. After all, my country was at war in Iraq. How was this going to work? But amidst the regional upheavals, we focused on the opportunity to create something new and constructive together. We did, and we built trusting relationships with each other – but it was far from easy.

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Topics: Education • Middle East
April 6th, 2013
08:41 PM ET

America's higher education problem

"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

As you know, American higher education remains the envy of the world, and it has been the nation's greatest path to social and economic mobility, sorting and rewarding talented kids from any and all backgrounds.

But there are broad changes taking place at American universities that are moving them away from an emphasis on merit and achievement and toward offering a privileged experience for an already privileged group.

State universities – once the highways of advancement for the middle class – have been utterly transformed in recent decades, under the pressure of rising costs and falling government support.

A new book, Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality, shows how many state schools have established a "party pathway," admitting more and more rich out-of-state kids who can afford hefty tuition bills but who are middling students.

Watch the video for the full take or read the column at TIME

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Topics: Education
April 4th, 2013
08:35 AM ET

The thin-envelope crisis

By Fareed Zakaria

It's time for the fat and thin envelopes–the month when colleges across the U.S. send out admission and rejection notices to well over a million high school seniors. For all the problems with its elementary and secondary schools, American higher education remains the envy of the world. It has been the nation's greatest path to social and economic mobility, sorting and rewarding talented kids from any and all backgrounds. But there are broad changes taking place at U.S. universities that are moving them away from an emphasis on merit and achievement and toward offering a privileged experience for an already privileged group.

State universities–once the highways of advancement for the middle class–have been utterly transformed under the pressure of rising costs and falling government support. A new book, Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality, shows how some state schools have established a "party pathway," admitting more and more rich out-of-state kids who can afford hefty tuition bills but are middling students. These cash cows are given special attention through easy majors, lax grading, social opportunities and luxurious dorms. That's bad for the bright low-income students, who are on what the book's authors, Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton, call the mobility pathway. They are neglected and burdened by college debt and fail in significant numbers.

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Topics: Education
How to beat inequality
February 15th, 2013
06:27 PM ET

How to beat inequality

By Fareed Zakaria

Arguably the most important and innovative idea proposed by President Obama in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night was his call for high-quality, universal pre-school education.

“Every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood education can save more than seven dollars later on, by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime,” Obama said. “In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children…studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own.”

He’s right. Most Americans would be surprised to learn that the United States now does worse in terms of social mobility than many European countries – especially those in Scandinavia – as well as Canada. What does this mean in practice? It means that a poor child born in the United States is much more likely to remain poor than one born in Canada or Denmark.

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Topics: Education • United States
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