One major reason I choose to review this hinges on the fact that I've actually lived with locals in both Bangalore India and Shanghai China. I was 19 years old in backpacking independently in Asia for 6 months. I was invited to stay with family by a student and his sister. I think they wanted to learn English better and I could learn about the lifestyle of the locals. Note that in 1985 it was illegal to stay with the local Chinese. We had to stay in special tourist hotels. I brought this Chinese student with me to Suzhou - a very nice city. The boy went crazy having so much freedom. I felt like I was babysitting him and even though I planned to take him Hangzhou I made him go back to his Dad. USA kids are much more mature in many respects when it comes to independence. Even though this might be the case for some, the film does state USA students spend 1500 hours in front of the TV and only 900 hours in class.
Another strong point is direction of education presenting narrow views of the American majority. An expert referred to recent Chinese history as "Communist Insanity." Another so called expect stated that he hoped USA incomes would rise not just the 20-30% for the educated but for everyone. Surely statistics could show that the strict capitalist method is really enriched the top few percentage, at the express of the masses. Americans consume about twice the energy than Europe and other developed - technological counties. Americans may soon realize there hay day of waste is about over.
The movie also fails to address that times are changing. This may require a change in educational values. The prior push for growth-growth-growth is impossible to sustain - especially when tied to limited resources. Again, the globe is changing rapidly.
I will conclude by saying I liked seeing the lives of others in major cities outside the USA. The Americans looked like uninspired youth that fit the model of television programs. On the other hand, at least one of the Chinese students seemed a bit forced into working so hard.
Thanks for the documentary.