With the interesting melodrama surrounding Article 50 in Parliament this week, and the impending Brexit, there has been talk of London no longer being the no.1 financial centre of the global world, especially in light of financial institutions, such as HSBC and UBS, as they have been shifting thousands of jobs to Paris earlier this year.
However, it hasn't stopped tech corporations, such as Google from moving forward with its £1 billion plans to build a new headquarters near King's Cross in central London, complete with a rooftop pool and indoor football pitch. Apple's plans for a new headquarters in London at Battersea Power Station is also part of a £8 billion regeneration mega-development project.
Apple is taking over the Battersea Power Station in London to build its HQ as a part of a £8 billion renovation project.
Google's £1 billion investment into its eco-friendly London headquarters at King's Cross will further cement London's global position in the tech industry.
Although Londoners may whinge about living in the city, the smog, the Tube and various tariffs placed on driving cars, London is still one of the best places to live in the world, regardless of Brexit due to its proximity to research universities, such as Cambridge, Oxford and UCL, where American tech corporations have been busily acquiring technology startups. In addition, with Japanese SoftBank's £24 billion cash acquisition of Arm Holdings, and its recent 25% shift to SoftBank's £83 billion Vision Fund, headquartered in London, it is clear that although financial institutions may be moving their jobs to Paris, in the next decade, London will most likely become the tech capital of the world, potentially usurping Silicon Valley's dominant position in the world market.
Just recently, Chancellor Phillip Hammond unveiled plans to introduce T-levels in British education (the technical version of A-levels) to prepare British youth for a technocratic society. Whereas, the United States has been slow to invest in elementary and high school education, with continual budget cuts in public education whilst more focused on the recruitment of technical talent from nations like China, India and South Korea into its top research universities, the British government will be spending £12 billion to overhaul its entire state-funded sixth form (the equivalent of high school in the US), in addition to expanding its free school programme and free school transport for grammar (elementary) school students. By opening new free schools and working to integrate technical education into its educational system, the British govt is paving the path towards making education free and accessible for all its young citizens beginning in 2020.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron poses with the students at Cobham Free School, a top-rated publicly funded school with free tuition.
It has been said that a nation's youth is the future, and it seems pretty clear that London is making a large investment into becoming the tech capital of the global world. I think one of the advantages of a British education, as opposed to a South Korean education or an American education, is its ingrained system of Socratic thinking, beginning at the elementary school level - learning to question, to think critically and to be aware and respectful of others' viewpoints as opposed to learning to memorise or solely focused on performance on multiple choice tests or developing an unhealthy obsession of always being "right."
South Korea, Germany and Japan are the leading nations that have the highest pay for primary school teachers. In comparison, teachers in the United States work the most hours whilst being paid in the bottom percentile.
In the United States, federal cuts to the education budget by Congress have created a bereft of jobs whilst student enrolment has skyrocketed.
A 6th grader protests against statewide budget cuts in education in Illinois. Although, the U.S. govt has increased its R&D output at top research universities, and has propagated active campaigns to recruit top students from China, India and South Korea to attend its top universities, the U.S. has not invested in its own young citizens and their education, and this most likely will have dire consequences in the next several decades as the U.S. plays catchup with other nations that have actively invested in its elementary and high schools.
Having been a product of both an American and British education, although I have been lucky to attend some of the best schools in the United States, I can say that I spent a significant portion of my time at U.S. schools in a state of ennui, with a skewed, competitive focus on getting A's, whereas in London, it was expected that I go against the grain of traditional thinking, experiment, practice and develop new theories under my own self-discipline. I think it is this self-agency that is lacking in education at other nations, such as South Korea, whose students are often silenced or reprimanded if they go against the grain of traditional thinking or punished if they question what they are being taught. Although, American education is primarily based on a post-industrial society whose goal was outputting students to work in factories, I think the main problematic feature of U.S. schools is that teachers at U.S. public schools are often underpaid and educational institutions at the elementary and high school levels do not attract the best talent, which ultimately reflects on the students. Although, there are startups developing a new model of education, such as the AltSchool, and San Francisco has moved to make its 2-year community college free for all its residents (ie, for people who can afford to live in San Francisco in the first place) it is becoming more apparent that in America, there is a growing divide between the wealthy and poor, and the average American who is an elementary or high school student will not be able to afford the expensive price tag of going to schools like the AltSchool or the Montessori School and will more likely end up with a mediocre education at a public school with multiple budget cuts. This is in stark contrast to the direction that the U.K. is taking, by actively investing in their young students.
Chancellor Phillip Hammond with a student from a top-rated, specialised, grammar school, Stepgates Community School, which has a tuition of £4,653 per term. In contrast, in the United States, a comparable elementary school, The Alt School, has a tuition of $25-30K per year, further adding to the criticism that education in the U.S. only caters to multi-millionaires and billionaires, creating an unfavourable climate of elitism that is at odds with democracy and innovation.
I also think that in England, there is a focus on a "holistic" education with many developers and engineers having specialisations in both the liberal arts and computer science, and this leads to creative problem solving as opposed to a purely mechanical one that functions for a limited time frame. As Steve Jobs said, "technology alone is not enough - it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that makes our heart sing."
By Sierra Choi