A Flat World: Not Just Dull and Drab

I have been listening to Tom Friedman’s book on my iPod as I bump around the house. While the waves of flattening he describes are as relentless as the ocean’s, part of me is inclined to see the flattening as gray, dull and drab. For those unfamiliar with his book, he illuminates many technology driven trends which are rapidly changing our economies and relationships, rendering them independent of geography. He heralds the opportunities “flattening” offers, and cautions about the risks. Being both a natural optimist and a tecnology afficianado, I find myself in a bind; I like the color of a culturally differentiated world. I don’t want to be flattened.
One aspect this flattening takes on is a corrupting militarization of schooling summed up by a local school official who recently declared that we are “in a global economic war with our classrooms the battlefield.” There is an erosion of educational values associated with Friedman’s flattening. While Yeats wrote that “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”, No Child Left Behind is about the filling of pails. The full pails seem to have the outcome, if not intent, of extinguishing many a fire.
This is not as it need be, given many of the the same flatteners at which Friedman gazes. Smartboards, blogs, and innumerable other applications of technology to education offer opportunities for unparalleled engagement and productivity in our schools, personal and social lives.
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