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One way of summariz ing the America n positi on is to state that we valueorig in alitya nd in depe nden cenore tha n the Chin ese do. The con trast betwee n our two cultures can also be see n in terms of the fears we both harbor. Chin ese teachers are fearful that if skills are not acquired early, they may never be acquired; there is, on the other hand, no comparable hurry to promote creativity Americaneducatorsfear that uni ess creativity has been acquired early, it may never emerge; on the other hand, skills can be picked up later.

However, I do not want to overstate my case. There is enormous creativity to be found in Chinese scientific, tech no logical and artistic inno vatio ns past and prese nt. And there is a dan ger of exaggerat ing creative breakthroughs in the West. When any inno vati on is exam in edclosely,its relia nceon previousachieveme ntis all too appare nt(the "sta nding on the shoulders of gia nts" phe nomenon).

But assu ming that the con trast I have developed is valid, and that the fostering of skills and creativity are both worthwhile goals, the importa nt questio n becomes this: Can we gather, from the Chin esea nd America nextremes,a superior way to approach educati on, perhaps striki ng a better bala nee betwee n the poles of creativity and basic skills?



Walt on set up a college scholarship fund for employees' childre n,a disasterrelief fund to rebuild employeehomes damaged by fires, floods, tornadoes, and the like. He believed in cultivat ing ideas and reward ing success.

"He'd say, 'That fellow worked hard, let's give him a little extra,'" recallsretired preside ntFerold F. Aren d,who was stunned at such generosity after the stingy employer he left to join Wal-Mart. "I had to cha nge my way of thi nking whe n I came aboard."

"The reas on for our success," says Walt on, in a compa ny han dout, "is our people and the way they're treated and the way they feel about their compa ny. They believe thi ngs are differe nt here, but they deserve the credit."

Adds compa ny lawyer Jim Hendren:"l've n ever see n anyone yet who worked for him or was around him for any len gth of time who was n't better off. And I don't mean just finan cially, although a lot of people are. It's just someth ing about him -- coming in to con tact with Sam Walt on just makes you a better pers on."


Maki ng the journey from log cab in to White House is part of the America n Dream. But whe n Jimmy Carter was defeated in his attempt to gain a sec on dterm as Preside nt)f the United States he found himself suddenly thrown out of the White House and back in his log cab in. This is how he coped.


SEAN: If that sort of thing happened only once in a while, it would n't be so bad. Overall, I would n't want to trade my dad for anyone else's. He loves us kids and Mom too. But I think that's sometimes the problem. He wants to do things for us, things he thinks are good. But he n eeds to give them more thought because:

SEAN, HEIDI a nd DIANE: (In unison) Father knows better!

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(The lights quickly fade to black and the n come up a sec ond or two later. DIANE sta nds alone at the Dow n Right edge of the stage. HEIDI and SEAN en ter Down Left and cross to the edge of the stage.)

DIANE: Can you imagi ne how humiliated I was? An honor stude nt, class preside nt. And Father was out ask ing people to have their sons call and ask me to the prom! But that's dear old dad. Actually, he is a dear. He just does n't stop to thi nk. And it's no t just one of us who'vefelt the heavyha nd of in terfere nceOh, no, all three of us live in con sta ntdread knowing that at any time disaster can strike because: Father knows better.



rd n ever realized how importa nt daily routi ne is: dress ing for work, sleep ing no rmal hours. I'd n ever thought I relied so much on co-workers for compa ny. I bega n to un dersta nd why Ion g-term un employme ntcan be so damagi ng,why life without an exter nally supported daily pla n can lead to higher rates of drug abuse, crime, suicide.

To restore bala nee to my life, I force myself back in to the real world. I call people, arrangeto meet with the few remai ning frie nds who have n't fled New Y ork City. I try to at least get to the gym, so as to set apart the weekend from the rest of my week. I arra ngei nterviewsfor stories,doctor's appo in tme nts -- any thi ng to get me out of the house and conn ected with others.

But sometimes being face to face is too much. I see a friend and her ringing laughter is in tolerable -- the no ise of conv ersati on in the restaura nt, un bearable. I make my excuses and flee. I re-e nter my apartme nt and run to the computer as though it were a place of safety.

I click on the modem, the on ce-a nnoying sound of the connection now as pleasant as my favorite tune. I enter my password. The real world disappears.

Thought you were safe shari ng secretswith Internet frien ds? Wait for the doorbell...



The run way felt differe nt this time. It startled him for a brief moment. Then it all hit him like a wet bale of hay. The bar was set at nine in ches higher tha n his pers onal best. That's only one inch off the National record, he thought. The inten sity of the mome nt filled his mi nd with an xiety. He bega n shak ing the tension. It was n't work ing. He became more tense. Why was this happe ning to him now, he thought. He bega n to get n ervousAfraid would be a more accuratedescriptio n. What was he going to do? He had n ever experie need these feeli ngs. Then out of no where, and from the deepest depths of his soul, he picturedhis mother.Why no w?What washis mother doing in his thoughts at a time like this? It was simple.

His mother alwaysused to tell him when you felt tense, an xious or eve n scared, take deep breaths.

So he did. Along with shaking the tension from his legs, he gently laid his pole at his feet. He began to stretch out his arms and upper body. The light breeze that was once there was now gone. He carefully picked up his pole. He felt his heart pounding. He was sure the crowd did, too. The sile nee was deafe ning. When he heard the si ngi ng of some dista nt birds in flight, he knew it was his time to fly.


Racing the clock every day is such an exhausting effort


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