Thursday, October 28, 2010

Young World education

Rob Salkowitz in Young World Rising predicts that the economy of the near future favors countries like India, Brazil, and Nigeria, whose younger populations that have grown up digital are better leveraged for the knowledge economy. Our politicians have been hammering home education's role in this new economy for a while too, but many of their ideas for education reform usually see curriculum as a way to teach "skills" so that our students are well-equipped to be the workers of tomorrow.

But this book made me think of education reform in a different light, especially near the end of the book in the section titled "Plan for Uncertainty." Xenophobia and parochialism are growing stronger in the U.S., that seems plain enough. A lot of people see this trend as detrimental to out nation's health. In early 2010 Former Republican member of Congress from Iowa and current NEH chair Jim Leach launched a civility tour in response to the trend in order to try to encourage more healthy argumentation across American society.

There's another way to look at the decline of civil dialogue in our country with Salkowitz's book in mind – the economic view.  If the impending knowledge economy favors Young World countries, it's conceivable that the U.S. will need to meet Bottom of the Pyramid economies on more equal footing. Global literacy seems to be a key component of this curriculum, and that doesn't seem to be emphasized enough in our debates about how schools need to change.

We won't be as successful in our business with the Young World if we become a nation of xenophobes. 

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