The Untouchables and "New Middle"

In reading Thomas Friedman’s, “The World is Flat 3.0 ” I came across a particular chapter that piqued my curiosity and thoughts regarding education. Chapter six, titled “The Untouchables” remarks on Friedman’s opinions regarding what types of skills will be most valuable in the economy of the future (now?) Of course, this relates directly to what we as educators should be instilling in our students as they develop their way towards the working world. As Friedman states, “students also have to fundamentally reorient what they are learning and educators how they are teaching it.” (pg. 280)

Friedman goes on to highlight the following characteristics as those that will make up the body of “New Middlers.” They are as follows:

  • Great collaborators and orchestrators
  • Great synthesizers
  • Great explainers
  • Great leverages
  • Great adapters
  • Green people
  • Passionate personalizers
  • Math lovers

Science education lends itself so easily to a number of these characteristics, and it has charged me to develop my lessons to further include such skill development in our pursuit to masters the standards of Earth and Space education put forth by the Department of Education.

Perhaps the one desired-skill that pushes me to think the most is the “synthesizer.” The concept of putting “putting together disparate things that you would not think of as going together.” (pg. 287) Fellow faculty members have gone to great lengths to extend their students’ and their own knowledge surrounding the vast array of web applications and tools available to facilitate student publication of understanding. Wikis (collaboration!), podcasting, Voicethreads, etc. are all examples of points where teacher’s have encouraged students to connect the content with a seemingly unconnected application.

While reading this section I recognized the importance of continuing such kinds of projects and assessments. We must push students to use these tools, eventhough they may soon be replaced by even better applications. The goal will not be to teach a student how to make the perfect Voicethread or podcast, but to give them the opportunity to make a connection that displays their understanding of content with their exploration of such tools so that they may become masters of synthesizing such things in the not to distant future.

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About MrMusselman

K-5 Science Specialist for the Burlington Public Schools of Burlington, MA.
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