Just as the US is abandoning funding of arts programs in schools to focus more on testing of core subjects, a leader in math and science education turns to the arts as a way of improving “entrepreneurial” thinking it admired in Americans. Will it beat the US at it’s own game?
Published by the Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 1, 2013
By Tom Benner
Chew Jun Ru knew he wanted to become a musician back in high school. But the eldest of four had parents who shared the traditional Singaporean view of the arts – they insisted he find a career with a solid future.
“It was crazy at the time. They could not believe what they were hearing,” says Mr. Chew, now 24. “It’s just music. I’m not doing drugs. It’s not something I should be ashamed of.”
In June, Chew – who plays the erhu, a traditional Chinese two-stringed bowed instrument – graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, an undergraduate arts institution here. In August he left for Beijing on full scholarship to the China Conservatory of Music.
His ability to win over his parents – they couldn’t be prouder now – speaks to the growing acceptance of, and focus on, arts education.
Innovation and creativity are seen as increasingly important to core curricula in this traditionally buttoned-up financial center, at a time when American schools are cutting back on arts. Singapore‘s embrace of the arts isn’t just for art’s sake, but because of the growing recognition that arts education is crucial to Singapore’s growing innovation-driven economy.
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US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered two messages this morning to the annual Shangri-La Defense Dialogue in Singapore: he reaffirmed the Obama administration’s strategic “pivot,” or “rebalance” of its focus and resources from the Middle East to Asia, and specifically named China as a source of cyber espionage that threatens US and global security.
Hagel called the Asia-Pacific region the emerging “center of gravity” for world population, global trade, and security. Mandatory spending cuts on the Defense Department will not prevent Washington from allocating new resources and increasing its presence in the region, Hagel said. “The world is undergoing a time of historic transformation, and Asia is at the epicenter of that change,” he said.
Increased partnerships and engagement with countries throughout the Asia-Pacific are designed to encourage inclusive, transnational cooperation on the largest problems facing the region, Hagel said. “Relationships, trust, and confidence are what matter most to all nations,” he said.
Hagel put North Korea on notice that the US will not stand by as it makes nuclear threats, calling on the rogue nation to denuclearize and become a responsible member of the world community; and called for territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas to be settled with restraint, without force, and according to international law.
Hagel also named China as a source of cyber espionage targeting military and government secrets, reflecting Washington’s increasing willingness to directly confront China following reports last week of Chinese hackers stealing secrets from US military systems.
“The United States has expressed our concerns about the growing threat of cyber intrusions, some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military,” Hagel said. “We are determined to work more vigorously with China and other partners to establish international norms of responsible behavior in cyberspace.” Continue reading