Carpe Diem

U.S. Culture Rewards Innovation and Risk-Taking

A dynamic economy is much more than the sum of its test scores. It’s part of a culture that rewards innovation and risk-taking and values unconventional problem-solving. Much of this is nurtured in U.S. schools, even if it can’t be quantified on a test.

Recently, Newsweek International noted Singapore’s success on international math and science exams but asked its Education Minister why Singapore produced so few top-ranked scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, business executives and academics.

“We both have meritocracies,” he replied. America’s “is a talent meritocracy, ours is an exam meritocracy. There are some parts of the intellect that we are not able to test well – like creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, ambition. Most of all, America has a culture of learning that challenges conventional wisdom, even if it means challenging authority. These are the areas where Singapore must learn from America.”

an editorial in today’s Dallas Morning News.

Bottom Line: With 5% of the world’s population, Americans have won almost 50% of Nobel prizes awarded in the sciences (chemistry, physics, medicine and economics) over the last 100 years because of our culture of innovation, challenging authority and risk-taking. Singapore has won 0 Nobel prizes.

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