2 Million Minutes

A colleague and I watched the movie 2 Million Minutes and found it very interesting.

The documentary follow two high school students from each of three countries: United States, India and China, interspersed with interviews from various specialists in education, industry and labor.  The story behind the title is that each high school student spends approximately 2 million minutes in high school, and the film looks at how they spend those minutes.   American students spend less time on studies than Indian and Chinese students, but the reverse is true for time spent on other activities, such as music, arts, sports, part-time jobs and time with family and friends. 

There’s a lot of food for thought in the film.  It was interesting to see what types of subjects were studied and emphasized in each country (science, math and engineering are very popular in India and China, whereas in the United States, they focused more on the lack of these subjects in the curriculum), and also to hear about what motivates students to perform in each of these countries.  I drew some parallels between Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” where he talked about the success being aligned with the amount of opportunity the student had to practice in the field.  He kind of debunks the theory of “natural talent” in an area by pointing out that people who excel have often spent every moment of their free time practicing the thing that they become good at.  It was interesting to think about that and hear some of the things that the students said about how they spend their free time.  One example was a student who reads a little bit of an advanced calculus book every night before he goes to bed, and who spends half of his free time playing video games and the other computer programming – because he enjoys it.  Hearing what each of these students enjoyed during their free time was very telling.

We will likely be discussing this film at our school soon.  If anyone has seen the film and has any thoughts they’d like to express here, please feel free!


About Paula Montrie

I am a Middle School Librarian at Friends School of Baltimore. I have been a librarian for 11 years, serving 6 years with the Howard County Public School System before arriving at my current school. I teach two classes: SpeechCraft (a combination of information literacy, public speaking and theater), and Media Literacy at the middle school level. I also collaboratively co-teach with a number of teachers at the school, including Music, Geography, and U.S. History. I love it! My professional interests are: information literacy, multiple intelligences and learning styles, teaching through movement, curriculum-writing, technology integration, and bridging the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants. My personal interests are: dancing, singing, knitting, sewing, art, living history, writing and of course - reading!
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One Response to 2 Million Minutes

  1. Another video to add to my collections of “must watch”. It sounds like an intriguing documentary. I would be interested in seeing what each country looks like in elementary and middle school as well. I think there is a lot to be learned from each other.

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