The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Public Education in a Flat World

Here is an interesting post from a fellow superintendent blogger entitled, "Public Education in a Flat World."

I have not personally read Thomas Friedman's book referred to in the posting.


Tracy Jackson said...

Dr. Stock,
Although my idealogy and his don't line up completely, I highly recommend reading Friedman's book. His research and reporting are very well done. Would you like to borrow my copy?

further flatting the world said...

Interesting thoughts from Bend.

Friedman's book is interesting, and I do see, and can validate his observations firsthand every day. What Friedman does not address is also worthy of discussion, but that would probably hijack this thread.

Is modern product design done in India, Pakistan or China? No.

Korea and Japan, whose cultures are very vertical, not horizontal, produce or influence many of the things in our modern world.

Is manufacturing, the 'old' core of the US economy and creator of the middle class in decline? Yes.

Look around in nearly any direction and that become obvious. A growing component of our economy is service oriented.

Today's society abhors manufacturing of almost any type. The !NO ETHANOL! people are at the top of the list, as a current local example.

The only substantiative manufacturing is specialized: bio-medical or steel recycling, food related, which is not easily exported; or large whole goods or some component that makes up large whole goods.

Almost every other single category of manufacturing has been exported from the US to a country with a lower cost of labor. This, the flattening effect in Friedman's book.

Do today's schools provide the education for a service based economy? Perhaps.

My own children got through public school, Purdue University and have jobs in specialized service sectors. These are jobs that can't be easily exported.

I manage a company where the education level ranges from GED to PhD, and every point in between.

In general, there is a clear decline in language and written skill sets as the age of my co-workers declines.

My observation is that the culture of the US seeks out and prefers the underacheiver. As Tina Turner sang: "We don't need another hero". By what other cultural model would you see an exclusive offer to 'get bad audition videos and tones from the show'?

No one wants to be measured, to be challenged, to be told they must do better. Testing is gay. Failure is just not fair.

As I have commented before, it appears to me as a casual observer that many in leadership positions of our society are looking for a way to do less, to just get by. This type of negative leadership brings about more pressure for change from higher in the food/funding chain, which is further resisted, and thus begins a downward spiral.

My view is that until that cycle changes, the world for many people will indeed continue to flatten.

I hope this is not too sharp a point on my casual observations.

Friedman's call to action, if I remember correctly was this: The federal government must resist the urge to impose federal control over localized economies. No wait, that was Milton Friedman's book.

I don't think Thomas Friedman really reached any conclusions in his book, other than the world should continue to flatten.

In case this whole post has been too complex, here's the Cliffs notes version: The Mike Judge film Idiocracy is the logical conclusion to the flat Friedman's book.

Superintendent Mark Stock said...


Yes, I would like to read the book this weekend.

If you are out and about - drop it off at the office!

Tracy Jackson said...

I will drop it off on Friday, probably around the lunch hour.