Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Confucian Confusion

I've been back for about a day now. It feels great to be back in the swing of things. And to be back in a place with a New York Times subscription.

Brooks wrote a pretty serious column today calling out the meritocracy of China for what it is: a Dictatorship of Talent. Children are raised to be machines. They are groomed from the beginning to memorize and work efficiently. They are Confucians without a doubt.

So, people like Lou Dobbs are probably out there pounding their fists on tables denouncing everything we do here in America. How can we compete, they refrain. Like little parrot monkeys, all they can think to do is repeat each other.

Well, let's think about this. I was raised and schooled in rural Rhode Island. Did I sometimes skip school and forget assignments? You betcha! Was I a good student? Sure. But, what it came down to wasn't how many numbers of pi I could memorize but how well I could survive in a changing, global economy. Believe me.

And, when I was vying for a prestigious hedge fund consultant position some years ago do you think they asked me the capital of Nepal? No. They wanted to know if I could think on my feet, if I could play with the team but also make some all star moves. And, I could.

And, where did I learn that? Not at school. I learned that playing ball. At first as a kid, and then later on in the farm leagues. I learned all that hanging out with friends just watching a movie. Those were important lessons you can't get from a book or an audio cassette.

That was my life. And things worked out fine. Just fine.

Here's Brooks' take: "But in the back of your mind you wonder: Perhaps it’s simply impossible for a top-down memorization-based elite to organize a flexible, innovative information economy, no matter how brilliant its members are."

Exactly, I've been wondering that all along.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i liked your blog better when it was about david brooks

About Benjamin

I was located outside of Berlin in a small enclave, which was really quite nice. I lived in a two bedroom flat above a kneipe, which is German for bar. I had a membership to the New York Times Select service, which gave me access to the columnists and the archives. I am a big fan of David Brooks.