Facts about Education — China and the world versus America – Part 3/3

Myth:  “American Universities Are Being Overtaken.” (concerning research and development)


Wildavsky says, Asia’s share of the world’s research and development (R&D) spending grew from 27 to 32% from 2002 to 2007, led mostly by China, India, and South Korea.

However, R&D spending worldwide massively surged in the last decade from $790 billion to $1.1 trillion, up 45 percent, and in 2007, the U.S. spent $373 billion (up from $277 billion in 2002) on R&D, which was very high by global standards totaling more than all Asian countries’ combined ($352 billion was spent on R&D in Asia).


ANSWER: “Maybe, but don’t count on it anytime soon.”

While the global academic marketplace is without doubt growing more competitive, the United States doesn’t have just a few elite schools as most of its foreign competition does, and the U.S. spends about 2.9 percent of its GDP on postsecondary education, about twice the percentage spent by China, the European Union, and Japan in 2006.

If this three part series of posts sparked a curiosity to learn more on this topic, I urge you to take the time and click over to Foreign Policy magazine‘s Website and read all of FP’s Think Again: Education written by Ben Wildavsky.  It’s always nice to discover the facts before you form an opinion or believe someone that does not know what they are talking about. After reading Wildavsky’s piece in FP, it is obvious that America’s schools are not failing and have never been failing and are actually either holding their own or slowly improving.

That doesn’t mean the US should stop working at improving the public education system.  It means that many of the opinions and claims you may read or hear are probably wrong and the key to improving education in the US rests with the parents and not the teachers.

Considering the handicaps and competition teachers in the U.S. public schools face from the average child/adolescent’s poor lifestyles choices while eating horrible diets along with lack of proper sleep and spending far too much time dividing his or her daily hours (more than 10 hours a day on average) watching TV, playing video games, social networking on sites such as Facebook, and sending endless text messages instead of reading and studying, the evidence says American teachers are doing an incredible job.

Return to Facts about Education – Part 2 or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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2 Responses to Facts about Education — China and the world versus America – Part 3/3

  1. Fascinating! Thanks for that!
    What I’m seeing here on the ground in China is a big change in the direction education is taking children but the big obstacle I keep hitting is the exams! Everyone here is agreed that education is too focused on exams and not producing enough creativity… however…

    If I had a penny for every time I heard the eternal response ‘这就是中国,我们没办法改变它’ (That’s China, we’re powerless to change it) I’d be pretty well off.

    So yeah, the US has still got a pretty big head start!

    • Ah, but many urban Chinese are also deciding they want to have fun all the time and work is boring so that negative self-esteem element of American culture is also invading China.

      It is okay to have fun but work should come first and whatever that work is should pay enough to provide shelter and food for the family and benefit the survival of the culture instead of fulfilling some desire to have fun all the time at any cost as long as life isn’t boring.

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