I’m back on the road again. Brenda drove me up to Richmond, Virginia yesterday so that I can work at the Magie Walker Governor’s School today. I’ll be presenting to some really smart teachers who teach really smart students, and will be talking about literacy and learning in the 21st century — and a little Web 2.0. Then it’s off to the airport for a four leg flight to New Zealand, where I’ll be keynoting the Learning@School conference in Rotorua, and then down to Dunedin for a day of workshops with educators in the South Island.
|It was a spooky night with the mist blocking all but the first third of many of the buildings around the Bund.|
But I’d like to spend a few minutes of your time back in China, which seems like weeks ago — because it seemed like it took weeks to fly back from there.
Several of the presentations that I do owe at least minor elements to ideas from The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman. As I say in my presentations, I don’t agree with everything that Friedman says, but he tells some good stories, and I include and attribute some of these stories in my presentations, especially several revealing statistics about China.
For instance, I share numbers that imply that there are more honor students in China than there are students in the U.S., that if you exported all of the jobs in the United States to China, they would still have a labor surplus. The true implications of these facts did not really dawn on me until I saw Shanghai. This ancient city has been made-over almost entirely in just the last few years. The buildings are huge and many, and no single image could possible convey the vastness and wealth. The skyline, according to the teachers who work there, changes almost daily — and it is a state of affairs that is not only possible, but probable in a country with practically unlimited human resources, effective (and totalitarian) leadership, and an ambitious vision for the future.
We (the U.S.) could not possible keep up on their terms. We must find our niche of influence, our avenues to continued prosperity and value, and we must do it imaginatively and together. We must be willing to invest and to break out of the paralyzing policies of the past six years, and seek out visionary and inspiring leadership.