Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The World is Flat

As I first began reading The World is Flat, I could relate outsourcing to many experiences I have had, such as telemarketing callers and anytime problems with the TV or computer would arise. I tend to get very frustrated when I call Dell for computer help and I can barely understand the person on the other end of the phone who's trying to fix the problem. However, in my frustration I have never thought of outsourcing as "flattening" our world until now.

Then I started thinking about the students that I have in class, my brother in college and my husband who works in business. Will high school and college students be able to find careers in the future for a descent salary? Will education change enough so these kids have the opportunity to have a good career? Could my husband's job be outsourced someday? It is a scary thought...one that has just entered my mind after reading this book.

Last week I happened to catch a few minutes of Oprah when she was discussing the crisis in the education system. Several high school students were asked to name the first five American presidents. I do not remember how many countries where represented, but I do remember seeing a girl from China listing all five right away and some American students answering Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt as our first president! To me, this was just a small reminder of how much education needs to change. In Chapter 6: The Untouchables, Freedman states to his daughters "Girls, finish you homework - people in China and India are starving for your jobs." I feel that today's students need to realize how competative their career choice may be in the near future. I agree with Freedman that professionals now need to very specialized, and be able to adapt to various skills, knowledge and experiences.

Reading The World is Flat has been very eye-opening for me. I used to view outsourcing as only being in very large companies, mostly dealing with electronic customer service...things that do not relate directly to my life. However, now I see outsourcing as hitting very close to home when I think about my students and younger brother in college. With that I wonder, what will the future hold? The scary part to that question is the fact that the "future" is not very far away.

2 comments:

Terry Sale said...

It would be interesting to see how AHS students react to the notion that they are competing with kids from China and India. I remember my junior high school gym teacher telling us all we had to do our pushups so we could be strong enough to fight the Russians when they invaded. Now is guess we have to be ready for the economic invasion.

Karl Fisch said...

The "future" is now. I think that everything that can be outsourced, will be outsourced, and I don't necessarily view that as a bad thing (people are people, whether they were born in Boston or Bangalore). Like Friedman, I'm optimistic about the ideas these millions of new "players" on the global playing field can bring to our world. We just need to make sure our students are ready to be successful in a flat world - that they are adaptable, and know how to learn and re-learn.