12 October 2006

Hey Columbus- The World Is Flat

I’ve recently had a book recommended to me by several people, through my work at DallasChild. I sensed there was a hype surrounding it, and that usually is enough to attract me. The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman seems to be related to much of what I’m working on lately, so I also felt I should do my homework. So here’s an informal book review, keeping in mind that I’ve only read a chapter and a half. But, no worries, I’m hooked.

TWIF is about globalization, which Friedman says essentially comes down to the instant, reliable worldwide communication that we now depend on. By saying that the world is flat, he is saying that the global playing field has been leveled. (Not in the process of being leveled, but that this is how it is NOW.) Economically, politically and socially, we all have basically the same access to goods, services and most importantly information, thanks to the Internet, and it’s changing how companies and countries do business and politics.

How does this relate to my work? Well it affects they way our children will (should) be educated. After all, they’re future economists, politicians, and CEOs, right? The authors of The Mislabeled Child, Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide, with whom I am working for a story on gifted children, agree with Friedman. With barriers to communication down and access to information for all, it takes more than knowledge of facts to be successful. (Think: a class can all get perfect TAKS or SAT scores, but what will make each student stand out to college admissions? Future employers?)

It’s more important than ever to teach creativity and innovation instead of mere facts and rote memorization. This is a hard balance to strike when there are standardized tests involved. But rather than see it as a negative, I see it as more of a challenge to think and teach differently.

The book is an eye-opener, and it’s surprising how relevant it is—to anyone with kids and/or a career (everyone). Friedman writes about the present, but makes you look to the future. And it only took 40 pages to do it for me.


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