I am Peter Economy, and I have for as long as I can remember been a fan and practitioner of both the arts (specifically, the musical arts) and science. Some years ago, I had the very good fortune to be invited by Harvey Seifter to help him write a book on New York’s Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and its unique leadership model. As you may know, one of the things that sets Orpheus apart from most other orchestras is that it has no conductor. Instead, different musicians within the orchestra take on leadership roles depending on their own talents and interests. The book — Leadership Ensemble: Lessons in Collaborative Management from the World’s Only Conductorless Orchestra — went on to be published Times Books, and it was translated into several different languages.
One of my great concerns for this country’s future is the underperformance of our youth when it comes to achievement in math and science. In December 2010, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released the results of its 2009 Program for International Assessment (PISA) test, administered to thousands of 15-year-old students in 65 different countries around the world. The results were not good for the United States. In science, the U.S. ranked 23rd with a score of 502, well below Shanghai, China (575), Finland (554), Hong Kong, China (549), Singapore (542), Japan (539), Korea (538), and New Zealand (532), and just one point above the average score on this subject area of 501.
In math, the U.S. fared even worse, ranking 32rd on the PISA test with a score of 487. This score was 10 points below the average score (497) of the 65 participating countries. Number 1 was again Shanghai, China with a score of 600, followed by Singapore (562), Hong Kong, China (555), Korea (546), Taiwan (543), and Finland (541).
These results underscore the fact that we must find new approaches to educating our youth in math and science — the current approaches are clearly broken. This area, along with improving innovation in our country, will be the primary focuses of my blog posts.
I look forward to posting, and to entering into a conversation with all of you soon.