THE SPECTATOR

Eastern education system vs western

Published: May 21, 2013 2:08 am

Eastern education system vs western

Asian youngsters feel they can relate to Harry Potter because he wears glasses,writes Clarisa Tan as she discusses British Education Secretary Michael Gove’s recently expressed admiration for Eastern system of education. “I completed my secondary and tertiary schooling in Singapore…Does Gove know how boring and soul-sapping rote-learning can be? Does he know how the emphasis on science,math and IT can turn students into little robots,affecting particularly those of a more creative bent?” she says. However,she goes on to admit,“As I get older,I have grudgingly come to recognise that the Asian way of learning,both at home and at school,isn’t all bad. The drive for excellence is crippling at its worst,powerfully enabling at its best.” Here’s the thing: once you have the structure,you can pile all the artistic sensitivity you like on top. But without any proper foundation,all creativity is for naught,Tan says. “Furthermore,there’s a certain irony in Gove’s ‘Look East’ policy… It comes at a time when many Asian countries are hoping to copy western education and its success in fostering inventiveness,originality and lateral thinking.”

PROJECT SYNDICATE

Nationalism,madness and terrorism

Liah Greenfeld tries to trace the factors that motivated the Boston Marathon bombing suspects,Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. She finds the answers in developments in England 500 years ago. “English society was redefined as a ‘nation’—that is,a sovereign community of equal members… But this liberty… complicates identity formation.” She stretches the argument to present day,“That is why the most open and freest society today,the Unites States,leads the world in rates of severe mental disease — supplanting England,yesterday’s freest and most open society. Indeed,foreigners at one time considered madness ‘the English malady’… It was as natural for an Elizabethan Protestant to see the cause of his mental discomfort in a government overrun by Catholic sympathisers as it is for someone with a Muslim connection in the US today to see this cause in America.”

NEW YORKER

Syria shows the

ugliness of conflict

Jon Lee Anderson talks about the ugliness of conflict based on the video of the Syrian rebel who supposedly ate a heart. “Violent networks around the world seem to have taken inspiration from al-Qaeda in their efforts to terrorise captive societies by filming,and broadcasting,the executions of their enemies,” he writes. He points to a giant transformation,“It’s sobering to acknowledge that,for a previous generation of television viewers… the most terrifying thing they had ever seen was the shower scene in Psycho.”

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The inconvenient truth about Benghazi

Peggy Noonan says the Obama White House sees every event as a political event,“Really,every event,even an attack on a consulate and the killing of an ambassador. Because of that,it could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications… And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away… So they said it was a spontaneous street demonstration over an anti-Muhammad YouTube video made by a nutty California con man… “ Slamming the Obama administration,Noonan adds,“They didn’t want this attack dominating the headline with an election coming… The president,after the killing of Osama bin Laden,had taken to suggesting al-Qaeda was over. Al-Qaeda was done. But if an al-Qaeda offshoot in Libya was killing our diplomats,the age of terrorism was not over.”

Pooja Sharma

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