It is often said that for example Americans are dumb, stupid , and superficial. Schools here get criticized for the wrong reasons in my opinion—kids failing tests or not getting into colleges, or you’ll hear someone lamenting how, “our kids don’t do Algebra like the Japanese do”. This is wrong thinking for two reasons.
First , figuring things out, and creative thinking are very much part of intelligence. America is one of the few countries in which there is some appreciation in middle class society for the arts as a profession. As far as figuring shit out, America by far has more self-made millionaires than anywhere else—some of this is cultural, but nonetheless you can’t be “dumb” and create wealth and success. There’s more to enabling a kid to be smart than memorizing formulas or being able to name random capital cities.
The second way that this is wrong thinking is that it causes kids to be labeled as dumb, stupid, or lacking because of SAT tests, or what college they’re getting into. This is an area in which I hope that the United States doesn’t become like the rest of the world. In some countries if you tell your parents that you want to be anything other than a doctor, accountant/corporate manager or something related to computer engineering, it will be a family crisis. Many African men consider anything that is not a hard science “foo foo” (direct quote).
This is unfortunate, and I hope that the USA doesn’t follow in that direction. It would be the wrong model. Sir Ken Robinson put it best, and I hope you can spare 20 minutes to listen to him: