Craig Barrett Laments US Education System

IDF Fall 2008 - Craig Barrett kicks off IDF and turns the education and technology debate on its head.

The absence of Paul Otellini at this IDF meant that the opening keynote was given by previous CEO, Craig Barrett. This meant that unlike last year, all the good stuff was not revealed in the first hour of the conference, leaving us with much to look forward to over the coming days – thanks Craig!

Barrett made it clear that he would not be talking about specific products, instead he wanted to cover technology as a whole, and its impact on the world. One thing’s for sure though, he wasn’t mincing his words when it came to the subject of education.

These days Barrett spends a great deal of time travelling the world and overseeing the implementation of technology in developing regions. And it’s through this time spent in the developing world that he has realised how important education is to these countries and cultures. Barrett went on to say that although developing countries are investing heavily in education, along with research and development, the US is not.

In the developing world the governments, parents and even children value education over almost everything else, but the situation is very different in the US, and I see a similar situation in the UK. And despite the influx of technology into education, Barrett insisted (correctly) that the most important thing in any classroom is a good teacher.

Barrett went on to say that “Nations are only as strong as their education systems”, a sentiment that I agree with whole heartedly.

Some may argue that IDF is not the place to make political statements about the inadequacies of the education system, but why not? Ultimately, every delegate in the room relies on the education system to produce staff, who in turn will produce the innovations that drive technology forward.

Perhaps the so-called developed world has something to learn from its developing neighbours…

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