Week in Reflection: March 17-21

This was a crazy week.  Monday was a teacher workday; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, our schedules were different from “normal”; and Friday was Purim — we didn’t have classes and spent the day celebrating.  The students were pretty good considering all the schedule disruptions.  I had a really good discussion with my senior class about a piece I asked them to read from Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat as well as two short videos we watched — Karl Fisch’s “Did You Know?” and an excerpt from The Simpsons — “Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore.”  We are making connections between Death of a Salesman and the plight of Willy Loman to modern issues of globalization, outsourcing, and living in “exponential times.”

My tenth grade class will turn in the final draft of their research papers tomorrow.  One hard worker has written something like ten drafts!  I am proud of all their hard work and have a suitable celebration in mind.  This week is a much more normal week, thank goodness.

We have 12th grade and 10th grade trips coming up in the next couple of weeks.  Spring break isn’t far off, either.

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Some Thoughts on The World is Flat

The World is FlatI have been reading Thomas L. Friedman’s The World is Flat as part of an online PLU course.  Really the course just gave me a good excuse for reading a book I had been wanting to read for some time.

I am still finishing the second chapter about various flatteners that have brought us to the point where we find ourselves today, and I could not help but be struck by his comments regarding blogs.  Is it just me, or does he seems somewhat more concerned about the negative aspects of blogs and blogging in comparison with the other flatteners he discusses?  He says at one point, “A blog is your own personal virtual soapbox, where you can get up every morning, and, in the form of a column or a newsletter or just a screed, tell the world what you think about any subject, upload the content to your own Web site, and then wait for the world to come check it out” (117).  Perhaps the word “screed” just jumps out at me, but I see this comment as somewhat negative.  Yes, some bloggers write screeds, but I don’t read many blogs like that.  He praises the bloggers who were able to expose “Rathergate,” but in the next breath he adds that “no one is in charge, standards of practice vary wildly, and some of it is downright irresponsible” (117).  I know that what he says at true, but part of me wonders if he isn’t worried because bloggers are, as Charles Johnson quoted on the same page describes them, “an army of citizen journalists.”  It just makes me wonder if Friedman feels threatened by bloggers.

I have to say I have found the book engaging and intriguing, and frankly, I have learned a great deal from the book.  I know one thing — it is critical that educators help students prepare for entering this new flat world, and I don’t think all of our schools are doing enough.

Another curiosity I have about this book — when I posted on my reading blog that I was reading this book, a reader who had never commented on my blog before left a comment suggesting I read alternative theories by two other authors, criticized the length of Friedman’s book, and then left.  A quick Google search unearthed four pages of extremely similar comments.  She has not, at least not in the comments I have read, really explained her passion for convincing others not to read this book, or at least not to take it as the last word, but she clearly has some kind of agenda.  It would not surprise me to see her comment here, as I think she monitors Technorati or Google for blogs discussing this book, and it is my hope that rather than leave her standard comment, she will be willing to engage in a discussion of her particular concerns about this book.

At any rate, as I progress through the book, I do intend to post my thoughts about it here.

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