We watched a documentary called “2 Million Minutes” in one of my classes. It is about cream of the crop high school seniors in India, China, and US. I’m still digesting what I thought about it; while it was somewhat interesting, I don’t feel like I learned much that wasn’t already expressed stereotypically to me (5 out of 6 of the kids were very stereotypical) but there were some small points in the documentary that were interesting, like admitting US students work hard as well but distribute their time differently.

There are some deep flaws in the measurements of this documentary, in my opinion; the idea is that education should help you economically. How do you test that? The students may receive a higher level of math and science and do well in exams, but how does that work with real world problems? I’m not saying that those students cannot handle a non-exam question, but the movie made no mention of that. In my experience in the US, there is a huge emphasis on practical experience. High schoolers not only work to earn top marks but also compete to become leaders in various clubs, typically multiple ones. College students feel the pressure to intern, do research, etc., as well as earn top marks and succeed on entrance exams. The documentary didn’t delve into the college experience or what one needs to do in order to gain admission to graduate school in math and science, but it didn’t show that the non-US students engaged in outside activities with their peers. The Chinese female student did study ballet and violin, but she did so through private lessons. It didn’t appear that she participated in an orchestra or a part of group for ballet.

I also think there are issues beyond the schools that contribute to students not excelling, like home life. The documentary was interesting to watch, and I’m glad we viewed it in class, although I’m not sure if it was particularly enlightening or well thought out.