Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, criticized the UK education system and warned that changes must be made if the country wants to keep its edge in technology.

Speaking at the 2011 Edinburgh TV Festival, Schmidt pointed out that although the UK is the home of many media-related inventions - like photography, TV, and computers in both concept and practice - it retains leadership in none of these technologies.

If I may be so impolite...your track record isn't great, said Schmidt.

The Google executive said the UK education system needs to reignite children's passion for science, engineering and maths.

For example, BBC, in partnership with Acorn, shipped over a million computers to UK schools and homes in the 1980s.

That was a fabulous initiative, but it's long gone, said Schmidt.   

He said he was flabbergasted that computer science isn't even taught as standard in UK schools.  Instead, UK education has drifted to humanities.  Even when it comes to technology-related education, the focus is on software usage rather than engineering.

The UK needs people who understand all facets of [the digital future] integrated from the very beginning, said Schmidt.

The Google executive isn't bashing the humanities in praise of engineering. 

Instead, he praised the breed of intellectuals the country produced in the Victorian era, where masters of the arts like Lewis Carroll taught mathematics and masters of the sciences like James Clerk Maxwell were published poets.

Over the past century the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths, complained Schmidt.

Polymaths are certainly relevant in the modern-day technology world.  Perhaps the best embodiment of that concept is former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who revolutionized the gadgets world with his stylish products like the iPod and iPhone.