We are seeing two opposing trends, Mills says: more people pursuing higher education, while the population becomes less educated.
Question: What are the most exciting trends in education?
D. Quinn Mills: The most exciting trend in education I think is the larger in number and proportion of people who were doing higher education. I think that the technology is going to make a possible the much improve the quality of education. On the other hand, we are slipping backwards badly in education. People are simply not as well educated as they have been. People have degrees who really do not have the competence, have not learned what it should be necessary for that. We have much more complicated social, governmental and business systems and we are pouring people into them, who really are not competent to operate them, which is one of the reasons no one wants to talk about in the world, but one of the reasons why our airline systems and our governmental systems are not working very well. They are more complicated then the people who operate them can handle. So, I think education is extremely important, it is crucial to our future and I think it has some very very serious challenges. Technology will not solve those challenges. There is a recent Labor Department poll in the United States, or survey if you will that says the average American taking seven days a week spends about five and half hours a day on entertainment and nine minutes on learning an education. I think that is probably about accurate. So, we have a real problem with getting our people to pay serious attention to education. I think that we do not prepare young people to really to be excited about an intellectual life, to be curious, most of our people are not particularly curious except about what their close friends are doing and perhaps what some celebrity is doing. They don’t have any deep curiosity about the way the world works and what is going on and what can happen and I don’t know quite why that is. So, I don’t have a facile answer to that.
Question: Which country educates their children well?
D. Quinn Mills: It is very difficult. In the past the Soviet Union did a very good job with science and technology with a portion of its people. Israel did a very good job for a while. We in the United States continue to do an excellent job of providing education for a small portion of our population that really wants it and I think the Chinese government this spring issued a list of the world’s top 20 universities and 18 of them, I think, it may have been 17, but 17 or 18 are more American and our best universities are really superb. But we are talking about one-half of one percent of the American college population. So, there are all islands, if you will, of great promise and great performance, but, in the broad scope, they are great problems.
Recorded on: 9/27/07