Alexandria Online

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The World is Flat; Children Are Not

Reading Friedman's The World is Flat.

Education is not an activity that, at its core, can be "flattened" in his sense. It cannot be distributed geographically or disaggregated, sourced out to a network of workers, and then reassembled, although certain parts of it can be. For example, our Blackboard site is hosted far away from our actual campus. I'm not even sure it is hosted in this country. And when we call Hewlett-Packard for support on our own data center, we get a technician in India, who diagnoses the problem and then dispatches a local technician to come to our facility and replace any hardware that has gone bad. If the problem is not hardware related, then it may be fixed from Bangalore. Kindergarteners, by law, must be supervised by two adults at all times; seniors, by contrast, may leave campus in their cars if they are free. But even seniors depend, I think, on the physical presence of their teachers and parents to guide them and motivate them. At the core of our kind of education, there is an allegiance between individuals that depends on physical togetherness.

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