Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is the world really flat?

I realize that there are a TON of very well written blog posts on Thomas Friedman's Book, "The World is Flat," and that I myself have written about it on a few occasions, but a recent incident have brought the idea back in my mind

At the beginning of this month I attended the NCETC conference, with Jim Moulton as the keynote speaker. Moulton had a good deal to speak about the flat world, and more specifically about his recent trip to China. I also had the opportunity to talk with him throughout the conference (thanks to the intro from Eric & Keith). When I introduced my husband to him, it was interesting to see some ideas converge.

You see my husband, Brent, is in textiles. Textiles are the classic example of cheap labor going oversees taking away American jobs. Almost every mill Brent has ever worked for has either moved overseas, or simply gone out of business. Now he has traveled extensively and worked overseas quite a bit, especially in Asia. But what intrigued Mr. Moulton the most (and of course me) was Brent's explanation for why he still has a job in textiles.

"Although the mills themselves (and not all of them mind you) may have gone overseas, most of the Research & Development has not. The thinkers are staying here."

This got Jim very excited, for one of the points he made (I believe in his keynote, but possibly somewhere else) was that several of the countries America is competing with are not trying to create thinkers, but create doers. Ironically, I find that most of our own education system was once built upon the same principles, and unfortunately has no changed much.

But at the same time this concept of history, of ebb and flow, of how careers and jobs constantly change, reminds me of how fluid we truly need education to be. That we need to think of educating our students not for a final destination, but a starting point from which to grow upon.

Sometimes I feel like I am living in a flat world, some days I know I am.

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