A few comments from the latest entry in my aunt's blog (http://www.travelwithhopi.blogspot.com)...
What did Obama mean when he said our children need to be better educated? Let us take a look at students around the world. In India, pupils in the elementary grades are learning advanced mathematics by the time they reach the age of nine. They are expected to know a minimum of two languages when the reach middle school, their own and English. Most pupils are able to speak two or three Indian languages as well as English before they reach middle school.
Pupils in China must memorize 5,000 characters before they can read their newspaper and 12,000 characters in order to enter the university. Their ability to memorize is unequaled. This doesn't stop them from studying mathematics at much higher levels in the high schools than we study here.
In Singapore, students will take eight A level exams before they graduate, while in England the populace is happy if their students learn and take two A levels.
When I state some of these figures, people brush it aside, saying that foreign students learn by rote and our children are learning to think critically and analyze.. Yes, that is true. In the early years Asian students do learn by rote. But when they begin analyzing and thinking critically they have a wealth of material to think about critically. They aren't playing catch-up in their teens and their twenties.