Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Whole New World

Regarding The World is Flat 3.0 Thomas L. Friedman lecture in 2007 provided by , there are some key ideas that educators need to consider and many more points that are good brain teasers in general. The key ideas that could use some attention are Friedman’s “flat world rules” #2 and #3 also his idea of multiple specialties. The first flat world rule is inherent to human nature “whatever can be done will be done” at one point or another, something that warrants a discussion at an appropriate grad level in schools but does not need to be an ongoing standard.

What may warrant some focus is that in the idea of economic competition. The competition will not come from other countries, companies, or co-workers but from the limits of your own imagination. Friedman mentions that “how well a school inspires, enables, and empowers imagination will be the most important edge” something that should have always been a driving force in education Friedman places into a modern context. Educators should, and I believe most do, try to inspire, enable and empower their students and their students’ imagination.

Although, to me and the more I find out about the education system we have now the truer this seems: the responsibility of most aspects of a young child’s welfare is being placed on the public schools and the teachers that work there. The public schools are asked to do more and more while receiving less and less support. To inspire, enable and empower students starts at home and is strengthen by a firm, sound and innovative infrastructure and only reinforced by formal education.

Moving on, another key idea that could use some attention by educators is the flat world rule #3. As Friedman explains that how well you can collaborate, utilize, and navigate horizontally (as opposed to the vertical chain of command) in the flat world, will determine how much more productivity you can capture. Those people who can utilize this horizontal system will capture more productivity and have a greater advantage. Educators, if this is the case than students need to be introduced and taught skills that will allow them to thrive in this horizontal world where everyone and anyone can be their own corporation, author and expert in any way they choose. As a result these educators will need the training, funds, resources, materials and support of the Government. Once again the learning process starts and ends in the home and parents need to help their children in every way possible.

One last thought Friedman mentions is the idea that specializing in two or more fields is powerful when they can be brought together creating innovation and imagination. So teachers, parents, and governments will need to encourage and make this idea possible. In this country, people’s careers jump around so much as it is that the cultural foundation is laid for this idea to transition easily into reality. All that is needed it the structure. Why not take all those different jobs people have and put them into focus and gear it towards multiple expertise.

So educators, what needs to be done according to this chain of thought? Students need to be challenged to use their imagination in every way possible while given the knowledge and tools to effectively collaborate, utilize and navigate in the now horizontal world and at the same time preparing them for dual expertise. The methods for doing all of this, however, would still need to cover the fundamentals while attempting to keep up with the flat world. It is a whole new world.


  1. Great points Mary, well organized.I worry about my own creative abilities.I hope they get better as I progress in my career and in life.I need a good idea, sell it, and never have to worry about manoey again!

  2. I agree with you on two points. One is that imagination is the key for success. The problem of today’s society is that one’s imagination is limited. We need future Einstein and Armstrong who asks why and how questions. They’re the ones who will be able to lead us from today into tomorrow. Society need to believe that they can still be cowboys, ballerinas, and astronauts. The lack of imagination in today’s children is the limited resources in schools. As you pointed out in your article there is less money going into schools and more expectations that need to go out. I also agree with you in students need to be serviced, but with what money. The standards are increasing and the budget decreasing. In the past schools would motivate you in different careers and field work. Now many students are lucky to have paper to write on. If we want to be a successful country we need to invest in educations and educate our future leaders.

  3. Mary,
    Great blog. I really agree about imagination. Schools really need to let kids use their imaginations. I think that with imagination children can go very far.