Tag Archives: flat world

Are we nearing the Tipping Point?


I started reading Gladwell‘s new book Outliers this week, and as usual he shares his thought-provoking research in what is almost a story-telling style.  But I got to thinking about the first Gladwell book, the one that made me a fan: The Tipping Point.  It’s a great book and a must-read.  Without going into too much detail, the basic premise is that there is an event or a moment in time when a certain change is unstoppable, and all things up to that point contribute to the momentum.  So as I think about our economy, the government bailout of The Big Three, and massive cuts to public eduction on our doorstep, I wonder: are we nearing a tipping point?  Consider Friedman’s contention in The World is Flat, that any job that at its basic element is routine can be “off-shored” and done by workers in countries where their populace is being prepared for this work, and at a much lower cost.  Consider also Wagner’s reminder that due to sheer numbers (population), there are more honor students in China than we have students.  Are we nearing what my parents would refer to as the point of no return–or what Gladwell calls the tipping point?    Holiday travel afforded me a lot of thinking time while trekking across the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Imagine what schools could do with the money being given to banks, financial insitutions, and the auto industry.  We could get webcams so our kids could use Skype on individual laptops.  We could abandon textbooks and subscribe to relevant websites that aren’t obsolete when the kids access them.  Maybe we could even purchase a real statistics software package like SPSS that our kids could use to input real-time local data to record, analyze, and report and draw conclusions from the trends they see.  But wait–we have the same problem the auto industry no doubt faces as it tries to “reinvent itself”: those on the front lines have to get it.  Teachers have to know why a shift in this direction is absolutely crucial right now.  Are we ready?  Can we count on “Yankee Ingenuity” to save us once more?  Or is Yankee ingenuity a 20th Century concept?


Defining Dimensional Learning


In an increasingly flat world, learning has the potential to become more and more dimensional.  So, what exactly is dimensional learning?  There is really no brief way to describe it.  However, it can be easily contrasted to less desirable, flat learning.  Yes, that’s right–  In our flat world, dimensional learning is much more preferable than flat learning:

Flat learning is passive learning, whereas dimensional learning is active learning.  Flat learning is bound by time, location, and someone else’s ideas.  Dimensional learning offers opportunity, choice, and a different perspective. 

Whereas flat is status quo and stagnant, dimensional is innovative and ever-evolving.  Flat learning scratches the surface and can be easily reproduced. Dimensional learning is a one-of-a-kind and value added.  Flat learners merely consume content; dimensional learners produce and share it.  For learners to grow dimensionally, they need to have freedom to discover their potential, find their talents, synthesize, and apply.  Such learning is timeless. 

As we spot evidence of dimensional learning every day, we long to see it more frequently.  How can we capitalize on the atmosphere our flat world offers to give learning more dimension?  It is with this question that we start the conversation…