Upon seeing the title, the first thought that came to my mind was “What is the Conceptual Age?” This was answered very quickly and immediately. We have evolved from farmers to factory workers to knowledge workers. My reaction to the photo with the evolution from monkey to farmer to factory worker to businessman to a painter with what appears to be a heart monitor that doctors use, made me think of the modern day route for most wealthy-enough teenagers in America, in short, what I consider to be a modernized version of the American Dream. Mostly everybody is encouraged to go to college even if they don’t have a plan, which I think is perfectly ok. But there is also the option of trades and trade school, and although it does state that we need both left and right side brain workers, I feel that in modern America, we are acting like doing something necessary for our society to survive is a bad thing. We cannot live without plumbers, welders, and electricians, and I don’t think we should be telling children that those are lesser roles than becoming a lawyer. I understand that the article isn’t saying that at all, in fact, it is saying that we need to have these jobs, but I am targeting the particular figure 3.2, even though it said it appeals to more of the right side of our brain.
One of the other points that really struck and stood out to me is the topic of Japan. I went to Japan 2 summers ago on an exchange program, and I have also studied Japanese language for 4 years, as well as just reading up on their culture in general. Japan has the highest suicide rate of any country, despite being so advanced and having such a “great” education system. I put quotes on this article because I do not think the education system and their work culture in general is great. Sure, statistically, they have us beat in math and probably most every subject, but that is because students are working themselves to the bone quite literally day and night. My student went to school from 8 am to 7 pm, and then students would go to cram school which is literally more studying and cramming information into your brain until about 1 am. Not to mention that you are expected to study after cram school as well. Additionally, when I say study, I don’t mean the American studying, which is looking at your phone half of the time and taking breaks every 10 minutes. My host student once emerged from his room with a bandage on his thumb. He had gotten 3 kanji characters (characters such as these 表外字) wrong on a vocabulary quiz, and had to write out each of them 500 times by the next day, and that was only one of his classes. Where is the time for creativity, the time to think? I honestly didn’t know how they get through it. The sad thing is, a lot of them don’t get through it. Hundreds of students kill themselves if they do not perform well enough on their high school or college entrance exams, they die so as not to face the shame from dishonoring their family, but it also quite literally, in a way, determines the rest of your life. Any education system that ignores not only mental health, but is a major source of suicide, is not ok in my book.
A society like Japan offers no place for individuality, not in school, not in the workplace. There is no room for creativity, when so much of young people’s lives focus on a single standardized test (the SAT in America). The SAT for us is slightly comparable to the entrance exams in countries like Japan and South Korea (which also has many of the problems I addressed last paragraph), except not at all to the same degree. However, that does not mean that we should leave it how it is. The SAT and ACT aims to test you in exactly one way, which is sitting you down for a 4+ hour exam focusing on school subjects. So many people learn in different ways, it’s like telling a fish to have a footrace against a cheetah, and then when the fish has quite literally failed, you dismiss it as worthless. We cannot let our country fall into a one-track state of mind, which is what I believe the author is trying to say.