had the pleasure of meeting Thomas Friedman at my previous school in Bali,
Indonesia. His book, The World Is Flat, had recently been
published, and he was interested in learning about international educational
models that could address some of the issues he had identified through his
research. More than a decade later, our conversation has continued to influence
the way I think about global education and the challenges facing educators
today. As Friedman questioned at the time, how can schools best prepare
students for a “flat world“ and effectively develop the skills they will need
to be successful in the twenty-first century?
to this question will, no doubt, continue to evolve as the needs of our
students become more defined. But since speaking with Friedman and reading his
more recent publications, I’ve come to believe that this generation of students
will require greater empathetic and critical-thinking skills to be citizens of
a world that is increasingly networked and multicultural. This includes
cultivating a steadfast openness for a variety of ways to understand the world
and a curious disposition that will foster learning about and engaging with
others. And more than ever, students will need to understand the importance of
ethical interactions with a diverse range of cultures and people who have very
different values than one’s own.
This is no small task, particularly in these times of tightening borders, trade wars, and heightened political rhetoric. But as Friedman has modeled as a "compassionate flatist,” it is one of the most important goals we can set for our students.
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