While reading chapter eleven from Thomas Friedman’s, “The World is Flat 3.0” I read a corporate coping rule on globalization that gave me pause.
“Rule #2: This is an outgrowth of rule #1 [whatever can be done will be done]. Because we are in a world where whatever can be done will be done, the most important competition today is between you and your own imagination.” (pg.447)
I was immediately impacted by this statement and its relationship to my teaching and our school’s “core values.” I was introduced to the core values of Parker my first year and proudly post them in the classroom as both a reminder and rallying cry for our students. Parker’s core values are: kindness, community, and personal best.
All of these values have shown themselves in one way or another through “The World is Flat.” But while reading rule #2 I was struck by the direct connection between it and our third value. “The most important competition today is between you and your own imagination.” As an educator of heterogeneously grouped students, there are times when I find myself slowing down the lessons and curriculum beyond my own personal pace preference in an effort to be respectful to the needs of the classroom’s needier learners. Every time I do this I feel the risk for disengagement from my brightest bulbs who are eager to sink their teeth in to the next big thing.
This realization and the reading of rule #2 has led me to a developed sense of urgency to develop better lessons, projects, and other assessments that pit our students against their strengths, weaknesses, and will. A need to push my students to against their own imaginations in an effort to achieve their personal best.
This is a message that must be delivered to all students, but particularly those advanced ones who act as though they are floating through the middle-grade levels, biding their time for the next big thing. In the “flat world” their is no room for waiting, students, companies, teachers, anyone looking to be a piece of the global puzzle in the coming future must reach out for themselves and stretch their own minds and wills towards creating (not just finding) the next big thing.
I am charged with developing more and more lessons with a “creativity” assessment component that will highlight such needs. A component that I can subjectively scale against each student to push them against their own “personal best.” While the assessment will still predominantly focus on the student’s understanding of the science curriculum, it will not be the only thing. Teacher’s play a critical role in not only developing students’ academic knowledge, but their life skills as well.