The Wonders of the Market
I recommend this article in today’s Wall Street Journal about English education in China. Many Chinese children attend English-language classes in the evening; one such school is run by the Walt Disney Corporation.
In places, the article insinuates that Disney is just trying to push its brand and get Chinese kids hooked on Mickey Mouse and princesses. But the parents quoted point out that they chose the Disney school for their daughter because they already liked the brand, which shows that advertising can work both ways.
I think that for-profit schools like this can be successful, if kids are enthusiastic about the brand. Similarly, when I was in elementary school, one of my friends got to learn piano by practicing theme songs from different movies. That method has the potential to motivate students.
I bet most American kids would love to study math or reading after school in a miniature Disney World. Unfortunately, Disney would meet with a lot of resistance if it opened these schools in the United States, because the public is extremely suspicious of marketing to children and for-profit education. (If you want proof, take a look at the comments to the Journal article.) It’s fascinating that for-profit schools are more welcome in communist China than they are here.