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Here is an interesting article that argues the importance of innovation to economic growth and wealth.

In our national dream, we’re high-tech champions, but we forgot that the other countries are also competing, doing just what we once did to be the most innovative, productive, and competitive. Suddenly, the signs are all over, from Indian tech support to Finnish cellphones to Japanese hybrid cars.

The focus of the story is that the US is beginning to lose-out to many other countries–like China–because other countries are stressing math and science education more than the US, and the argument is that math and science education leads to innovation.

I am not at all sure about that. First, I don’t see people such as the Chinese as especially innovative people. In fact, my friends here who manage Chinese workers see them as especially poor innovators.

Second, I don’t think math and science are all that good for encouraging innovation. Good for solving problems, but that is a different skill altogether.

Innovation comes from creative thought, and creative thought is best encouraged by education that invites independent thinking and debate. Education that is focused on memorization and retention of information, that is the problem and is much more sensibly blamed for any deterioration of US competitiveness in world markets.

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