Digi-Peeve: The World is Flat

By now, you have probably heard of Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” (April 2005). While this is a very worthwhile book that addresses globalization in the 21st century (you should read it if you haven’t), it is over two years old and is not the only resource that can enlighten us about our global landscape.

But more importantly, we should be careful about its take-home message for education. While shock presenters keep spewing threatening statistics (the recent viral video Shift Happens tells a similar story with the same ‘flat earth’ message), many people fail to recognize that rapid globalization has already taken place.

Perhaps Tom Hoffman explains it best in eSchool News:

One mistake educators might make in reading this book is to consciously or unconsciously frame it as a predictive work rather than a descriptive one. This book is not about what is coming. It is about what has already happened. We’re collectively failing to implement technologies and techniques which are creating opportunity around the world.”

As educators, we are often wooed by the latest idea that becomes stale as soon as another novel idea takes its place (cooperative learning, multiple intelligences, authentic assessment, and many others come to mind). Thus, we must be careful that we do not simply get caught up in the buzz about The World is Flat without recognizing its dynamic impact on education. We should be vitally aware that technology has dramatically changed our global landscape, and our teaching should already reflect that not only in what we teach, but in how we teach.



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