- Commenting on the state of American education, Jeb Bush — former governor of Florida, potential 2016 presidential contender, and education reform champion — stated that the nation that becomes a "winner" in the 21st Century won't be concerned with students' self-esteem, but with making sure they can "eat everybody's lunch."
- Bush's comments were based on the assertion that Asian countries, which frequently best the U.S. on international test scores, are concerned only with whether students understand math, reading, and science, and that they have "the grit and determination to be successful."
- Bush isn't the only education reformer to take such a stance: College Board President and Common Core "architect" David Coleman has been quoted as stating, much more callously, "As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don't give a s**t about what you feel or what you think... it is rare in a working environment that someone says, 'Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.'"
Look, nobody is arguing that children shouldn't be educated with a realistic idea of what to expect in the "real world." But there are downsides to ignoring their emotional well-being, and the Asian nations so frequently cited for their stellar education outcomes would probably be the first to point that out.
China's education experts, for example, have pointed out that the nation's focus on test scores have come with the sacrifice of producing well-rounded students who can think critically. A Japanese professor referred to Asian nations as "examination hell" countries with too much focus on teaching to tests. Those with college degrees in South Korea face high unemployment and an unflattering designation as "the most suicidal society," which is attributed to — you guessed it — a perceived lack of care by South Korea's government in its citizens' mental well-being as a result of the unemployment rate.
Ultimately, it all comes down to this: Do we want to produce kids who become the next great set of cogs in an arguably outdated machine, or do we want to make them capable of building a better machine? There's no multiple choice to it: The answer should be obvious.