America in the Age of Descent – Rote Learning and Developing Followers Not Leaders!

Dear Commons Community,

In yesterday’s New York Times Book Review, Jonathon Rauch, a scholar with the Brookings Institute, reviewed America  in the Age of Descent by Edward Luce.   It is an insightful review with a balanced amount of caution and optimism about America’s future.

In one section, he compares the ascent of China and its potential to vie with America for dominance.  He refers back to the fears of the late 1970s and 1980s when some naysayers were predicting that Japan would be the successor to the United States for world economic dominance.  Rauch explores several reasons why this is not likely to be the case including a comment that the public education systems in both China and Japan rely heavily on “rote instruction, good for playing catch-up but not so good for taking the lead.”  I concur completely with his view.  However, someone should tell officials in the US Department of Education, the various state education departments,  the Gates, Broad and Walton Foundations,  that their agenda for test, test, test and teaching to the test is just a slight variation of rote learning  and one that leads our students to be exceptional good followers not leaders and not creators.


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