The ever challenging, Mr. Hoffman, commented the other day on my blog entry about high schools and computer science courses (High Schools Fail To Meet Needs Of Tech-Driven World ????). In his practiced zeal to poke holes in my arguments, Hoffman logically questions my suspicions of our constant calls for more science, math, and technology instruction in schools, considering my “promotion of The World is Flat“.
He assumes that my interest in the flat world, as an approach to talking about changing global economic conditions means that I’m marching lemming-like along with Friedman and other advocates of flatism. Those who are regular readers of my blog and who have heard me talk about the flat world, flat web, and flat classrooms know that many of my ideas do not parallel those of most flat world preachers.
Our tendency is to absorb the flat world story, and then say, “We must be more competitive!” “We must look at what the Chinese, and Indians are doing well to attract global business, and do it better.” The message I got from The World is Flat, is that we need to learn to cooperate, to collaborate. China and India are finding their niches. What is ours?
I maintain that it isn’t necessarily programming or even engineering, although I agree with Alfred Thompson’s comment that exposure to and understanding of the engineering and even the programming are critical. We do not need to dominate these areas, however, in order to remain prosperous or even in a position of leadership. We do need to be figuring out those contributions that we are uniquely good at.
There are lots of directions we might go in. But what interests me is our astounding capacity for play. We know how to play. At least we use to. We have been successful and prosperous for a long time — decades. We’ve learned how to enjoy it. We’ve been selfish, foolish, wasteful, and arrogant in the process, but joy is a thing that we know something about. We should master responsible joy, and export that. I have no idea what that would look like, but it isn’t marching everyone into engineering school — in any country.
I believe that it is the creative arts that we should be emphasizing, every bit as much as the technical arts.
Enough said about that. Thanks Tom. I appreciate any opportunity or excuse to further explain my points. Keep challenging me, and others, and enjoy it. 😉
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