Thomas Friedman’s sobering new book, “The World is Flat,” is a must read for students and career minded individuals. Friedman explains that the effects of globalization and the advent of cheap communications are having a “flattening effect” on the world. Work that involves the transfer of data or phone communications can now be done as easily by a worker in Bangalore India as someone in DallasTexas.
What is more sobering is Friedman’s treatment of Bill Gates’ statement about the American education system…
“When I compare our high schools to what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow. In math and science, our fourth graders are among the top students in the world. By eighth grade, they’re in the middle of the pack. By 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations. . . . The percentage of a population with a college degree is important, but so are sheer numbers. In 2001, India graduated almost a million more students from college than the United States did. China graduates twice as many students with bachelor’s degrees as the U.S., and they have six times as many graduates majoring in engineering. In the international competition to have the biggest and best supply of knowledge workers, America is falling behind.
As someone who works in the education field I find this is an extremely important book to read. While much of the historical content is common knowledge, the overall effect is much more profound than the individual pieces. I listened to the audio book version while shopping at the local mall. All you have to do to realize the impact is to listen while you pick up items in a store. Just turn them over and see where they are made. We don’t manufacture many things in America anymore.
I came away with some important points. In America we need to educate our students to be able to compete in this rapidly changing global landscape. Students need both left brain and right brained job skills. It’s not enough anymore to know how to do something, you also need to know how to innovate, create, and market new products and services.
It is really important that our students embrace creativity through the I-Force. This is a profound set of inspirations that will help students in the new century.
1. Inspiration thru Information
a. The what, where, why, and how
2. Inspiration thru Innovation
a. Can an existing thing be made bigger, better, faster etc.
3. Inspiration thru Imagination
a. Can you imagine the possibilities?
These three “big picture” skills will help our students compete but they are not enough. Students also need to learn communication and leadership skills. It is imperative that students rise above “commoditization” and become truly gifted leaders. Organizations that teach these skills such as Toastmasters International are becoming more important every day.
Mr. Friedman wants to tell you how exciting this new world is, but he also wants you to know you’re going to be trampled if you don’t keep up with it.
This is one of the most important books of our time.
Read it, take note, and hold on.