Are we destined to spectate?

John Connell provides a tremendous window on education in the developing world through his new job as Cisco’s Education Business Development Manager for the Emerging Markets – covering South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia.

His most recent post about education in a global environment– which I read in an internet cafe in Paris – was both exciting and disturbing in equal measures – not because I didn’t agree with what he was saying but because I don’t think we are well prepared to meet the challenge he sets out.

John’s high-altitude perspective enables him to see how developing countries are committed to transforming their economic progress through an education system which will:

 “shift the locus of control to the individual learner”.

John refers to emerging nations whose:

“upstart thinking that is increasingly questioning the model of education in which standardized curricula are delivered by those expert conduits of knowledge known as teachers.”

His last point which made an impact on me was:

“The aging countries of the West are top-heavy with people in their 40s, 50s and beyond (people such as me, for instance!) – the emerging nations, on the other hand, are full of impatient youngsters who know that life can offer more than their parents were ever able to enjoy. They have (or will soon have) the skills and the attitudes necessary to prise the economic torch from the hands of their ponderous neighbours. Some are already doing so.”

Over the next series of posts I’ll take up John’s challenge to actively explore how we might engage in – as opposed to spectate upon -such a change process.

5 thoughts on “Are we destined to spectate?

  1. Top heavy.

    Clive James writes brilliantly about always missing the boat. When he was young, girls seemed to prefer men “into whose faces life had etched its thrilling diary.” He eased into maturity to find that only young men were of interest.

    On behalf of my generation, I feel a little like this with regard to seeming likely to make a worthwhile contribution.

    When I was wee, the opinions of us young uns fuelled only wry smiles or thick ears. With experience, technology and (somehow) lasting curiosity on my side, I feel I could out-perform, out-wit and out-innovate my younger self – even on a bad day. Yet popular opinion casts my generation as the one holding up the dead hand of tradition against a bewildering tide of disagreeable ideas. To stretch this water-based analogy one league further, we’ve not only missed the boat, we were never singing in the right quay! 🙂

  2. It’s your silver wedding anniversary, you’re in Paris for the weekend, and you’re spending time in an internet cafe posting to your blog? So…….a man after my own heart then……? 🙂

    You get right to the essence of the issue for these aging economies, Don – we need to engage with the way the world is changing around us, and quickly, not in order to stay ahead of the emerging nations necessarily, but possibly just to keep up.

    If there is an area that ‘the West’ (I dislike this phrase – is there a better shorthand?) can engage seriously in, and thereby start to lead the rest of the world in at least one critical area, I think it should be in re-developing capitalism to meet the needs of this old planet we live on. There are a few different, but similar, messages making themselves heard at the moment, but for me the most persuasive one (because it seems to be the most practical) is that of Jonathon Porritt in his book “Capitalism as if the World Matters”.

    His ‘5 Capitals’ Framework is radical enough to make a difference and practical enough to be acceptable, just possibly, to a global economy that is, for the moment at least, ineluctably capitalistic.

    I will be following your thoughts on this with more than passing interest, Don.

    How’s this Friday for the Bull, btw? I’m in Kuwait and Bahrain this week, but should be back in Lauder by Thursday afternoon.

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  4. I only said I read your post – Gill pulled me out before I could respond!! I’ve been meaning to read Jonathon Porritt’s book for while – so no excuse now.

    We have a family event planned for Friday evening but a quick pint in the Black Bull at 5.00 would be good?

    BTW I’m in Musselburgh and Tranent this week – I’ve never met a “country” dropper before!

  5. Don – 5.00 on Friday – the Black Bull – my round! As for ‘country dropping’, after my experience of entry to and exit from Kuwait this week I’d much rather have been in Tranent – not sure about Musselburgh, though 🙂

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