Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Rise of the Rest

I heard an interesting interview of Fareed Zakaria, a Newsweek columnist and editor of Newsweek International, on NPR the other night. He has a new book titled The Post-American World and this short interview (7 minutes) discusses parallels he sees to the British Empire at the dawn of the 20th century (shades of The Presentation That Shall Not Be Named?) and compares the Boer War and how Great Britain dealt with that with the current U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But before you decide this is just more gloom and doom, he also expresses his optimism that the United States can adapt and take on a new role as “Chairman of the Board” as opposed to dictator of the world. He makes some interesting points about the “rise of the rest”, not just China and India but others as well, and how leadership in the 21st century needs to look a little different than perhaps it did in the late 20th century.

I don’t know if this holds any particular lessons for education (I’d like to find time to read the book to see if he talks about that or not), but my thoughts after listening to the interview were that, once again, we need to make sure our students are engaged on a global level. Not just for economic reasons, but in order to help solve some of the major issues facing all of us today – issues that are global in nature and therefore need input and action from citizens across national boundaries. It makes me wonder that with all the lip service that schools typically give to creating “global citizens” in their mission and vision statements, how many of us are actually actively pursuing this in our classrooms?


  1. The post-American world has already dawned. The blow back from Iraq and Afghanistan has damaged our country. War will not be the preferred strategy in post industrial societies. Add to that, peak oil has emerged and relatively inexpensive transportation for teachers and students is no longer a given. Radical changes in the education infrastructure will happen not because we want them or at the pace we'd like but simply as a reaction to very expensive transportation. The USA has no rapid transit for 95% of the country. Therefore I believe that if education is to survive and it must in some form or other, that it must rely on electronic transmission. UStream and other similar technologies along with user generated content will form the new paradigm for education.

    There is much work to be done and yes, we will survive, but it will be a near dark age for a period of time until we accomplish the radical changes that will be necessary.

  2. I agree that there needs to be "radical changes," but I'm a little pessimistic on the rate of change. There are 6.2 million teachers in the US. I'm afraid the change will be slow. Hugeinvestments in infrastructure, people resistive to change, union pressures, etc are going to make it an uphill battle for us. Should we not take it on? Of course not! We just need to keep pressing for change. As Karl said in his post, we need to do more than pay lip service to creating global citizens. By doing that, we can at least make sure that future generations are prepared for the world that Mr. Zakaria talked about.

  3. Hey - the book was just featured on the Today Show. Guess we all better get reading! Thanks Karl.

  4. Karl, he also did an interesting story that's on the cover of Newsweek from last week that you might be interested in.