Column: Learning to Compete in a New World

This opinion column, which appeared Wednesday in the Raleigh News & Observer, perfectly sums up the goals of My Wonderful World. Author Edward B. Fiske, former New York Times education editor and advisory board chairman at the Center for International Understanding, writes: “Step One toward making the next generation of workers internationally competitive is to infuse more global content into the curriculum. Put simply: our young people need to know more about — and thereby come to understand and respect — the rest of the world than they now do.”

Read his column in full and tell us what you think.

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3 thoughts on “Column: Learning to Compete in a New World

  1. Mr. Banick:
    Thank you for your insightful response to this blog topic and for your prior comment on the “Need for Speed” story. The team here at My Wonderful World shares your sentiments and concerns. We believe that students today are not receiving adequate education in geography–as the Roper study indicates. This could have unfavorable consequences for cross cultural understanding, global competitiveness, etc.
    We especially appreciate the descriptions you provided of the World Mapper and Creative Connections Projects websites. Watch for these to appear in future blog entries—we’re always looking for resources to recommend to students, educators, and parents! If you have not already, please lend your name to these efforts and join the My Wonderful World Campaign via the “Get Involved” link on our Homepage. We hope that you will continue to contribute to the blog and help us to give more kids the power of global knowledge!

  2. Mr. Fiske and his institute are right on – Globalization, whether we like it or not, is here NOW. The sooner that young people (actually all Americans) can moderate their iPod, MTV and IM’ng schedules to engage in understanding, appreciating, and ideally interacting with the Flattening World, the more prepared they (we) will be for living in a connected global society. The burden of opening that doorway, of course, falls on educators and most of all – parents.
    Who knows – our next boss may be Chinese; our business partner Indian; our supplier Kenya; our classmate Argentinean…so ignorance is not bliss; it can be debilitating..and in a country of falling math and science scores (14th out of the 21 industrialized countries) and only 10th in per-capita internet connectivity (surprise?), the trendline is alarming.
    On a more somber note, look no further than a statistically-valid 2006 National Geographic Survey, which found that 63% of 18-24 year old Americans can’t find Iraq on a map – and 50% can’t find New York! These aren’t junior high kids – they’re the ones old enough to be sent to war; to enter the work force, the ones old enough to start raising kids of their own …
    I do agree that the infusion of cross-cultural awareness doesnt’ have to be an extra-burden (e.g. additional curricula). There are great tools for educating, and connecting kids in ways that are intriguing and fun. For example, WorldMapper’s maps use the stunning visual impact of proportional size to demonstrate otherwise intangible subjects such as poverty, pollution, education level, crime, etc. – both positive and negative. Or consider the Creative Connections Project (soon to be OneWorld Classrooms) which connects U.S. kids online to “classmates” in other countries.
    Many of these programs can be incorporated into existing social studies, language, and civics classes. Even language classes could (should) perhaps spend less time on rote repetition and more on infusing some of the cultural idiosynchracies (linear vs. multi-tasking cultures, rational versus sensual, seniority-dominant versus accomplishment-dominant, aggressive versus taciturn, etc.).
    Jonathan Swift’s character Lemuel Gulliver was not well-prepared for what he encountered in his travels. In the New World of the 20th century, we would be well served to inspire our kids to become New Gullivers- conscious,informed “travelers.” It can be – should be – fun and rewarding; and, ironically, it can even leverage those same beeping/whirring electronic gadgets that pre-occupy kid’s attention.
    Since the neighborhood’s changing, there can be no greater task than waking ourselves and kids up to the great opportunities, challenges and fun waiting out there. Especially when it’s already here, and we may just not be aware of it yet…

  3. I think not only schools need to get involved but parents as well. Not all schools are very progressive in getting involved globally that way but parents can incorporate geography and language into the everyday lives of their children. I always have a world map and a map of north america available for my kids aged 5 and 7 and they are starting to ask where things are that they hear about on TV.

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