More doom and gloom on the decline of U.S. tech students; “pickers and choosers at the buffet of life”

If you haven't read it yet, Business Week just published an article on how U.S.Slackers students are lagging behind their peers in India and China, in computer science. This trend has been noted in other fields, too. The authors point to "lack of focus" as the root of the problem. Maybe they're right. But, in a caricature that could have come from an old "Goofus and Gallant" cartoon strip, the authors contrast one U.S. "dilettante" (a brainy programmer who will probably do very well) with the more focused, brilliant Indian student who spends 35-40 hours a week on homework and aspires to be another Ramunujan. (The authors seem to forget that having hobbies and other interests is also important, and can stimulate creativity, an area where U.S. "slackers" are still strong.) In any case, it's not these American students who are in trouble, but those who haven't focused on anything at all (the T.V. studies majors, for example), or those who may be doing well academically but haven't developed a rudimentary world view or understanding of history. (Like the American chemical engineering graduate with a 3.8 GPA I heard described by a hiring manager at a company in Pennsylvania---who was stumped during pre-interview small talk by a reference to Gettysburg because he didn't know anything about the U.S. civil war.) Here's the excerpt: "....Edwards landed a Microsoft internship this summer. But they acknowledge that they don't have the dedication to programming that some overseas aces do. During a break, Edwards ticked off his list of college activities. In addition to classes and homework, he plays tennis four times a week, practices with the Ultimate Frisbee team, and sings in a choir. ``We're like pickers and choosers at a buffet rather than concentrating on one thing. Some of the other countries, they focus more,'' he said. Auntie MameAs Rosalind Russell said in the classic old film Auntie Mame "life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." I'm glad that these students are at least tasting the buffet, while they work on their studies. -AMS