Bringing Dimension to the Flat World

I was talking to myself as I walked through the halls yesterday morning. It wasn’t the first time and I doubt it to be the last. I happened upon our assistant principal, Dr. Shelley, and said, “Do you know what Jason (our social studies teacher) is talking about in his class today?”
She didn’t and asked what.
He was talking about the flat world…to eighth graders…historically low-achieving eighth graders. It was amazing. Not only that, he opened with a streamed video clip from one of Thomas Friedman’s appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Then, he gave a mini lecture to familiarize his students with the topic. From there, the learning belonged to the students. He asked them questions about the populations of China, India and the US. He asked about graduation rates, industry and the like. He didn’t point them toward the information, he simply supplied them with the question. Our kids still need the guidance.
Tomorrow, he will be presenting a PowerPoint on China and India and how they measure up to the US. I’d showed him Carl Fisch’s now-updated presentation and told him our students had already seen it in my class. His picks up nicely.
To round it out, he has the students identifying the possible impact of developments in China and India and then writing about possible solutions in the US.
A group of students was talking about effects of war and ethnic cleansing in another class with our literacy coach the other day and she asked what they would do if someone came in to their homes and they were forced to leave. Some of the students said they would go to China because they had learned in my class that there were a lot of smart people in China, so it must be safe. Our lit. coach told me of the interesting and engaging conversation that followed.
Now, think about this. I can’t imagine another 8th-grade group that has spent such a chunk of the beginning of their school year talking about, thinking about and soon writing about global economic shift. As they are about to become participants in the global community, it’s probably best that they realize its existance and importance first.
I realize they don’t get the nuances of the process. I realize it’s new and will take much more to develop a reasonable understanding, but what a great foundation for learning. Often, we talk about what our kids are and are not prepared for. Rarely, do we speak TO our kids about what we have a faint idea might lie ahead. I cannot wait to begin blogging with them. I cannot wait for the world to engage them.
More later.

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