I am surprised and encouraged by the interest and attention to the idea of bringing the world to the classroom. This idea is so compelling that it could define one of the core principles of modern education. I believe we can foster respect and a more ethical world view if we can show students the communality of human experience and create bonds with peers around the world though social media and collaborative projects. I have been involved in these projects and I seek them out regularly. I am even working on developing a curriculum with a small non-profit to create cross lessons in Mozambique with young people who live on the garbage dump in Maputo. I have been in contact with multiple educators in various parts of the world through the British Council Partner School program.
Friedman, T. (2008) is a writer and journalist that often informs and inspires my thinking. His cheerleader role for a flat world however concerns me on a very basic level. I believe that flatness can be culturally nihilistic by feeding a cycle of world consumer homogeny which facitliates the expansion of markets and otimizes profits.
I lived in Europe at a time when the suburbanization of the cities and surrounding countryside was going the way of the Western consumption-based lifestyle; the destruction of farms in favor of multi-unit housing with expanding roads and highways creating traffic in and out of the city and malls lining the highways out of town to satisfy the conusumption needs of the new suburbs.
This type of flattening has disheartened me. I also have concerns about social media flattening world cultures by substituting century old traditions and customs developed based on georgraphy and unique cultures with the “Appliezation” of consumption.
The flat classroom woud function best if it fostered diversity while creating more respectful and ethical students. Those students could celebrate and protect their heritage using social media and world classrooms to see their unique value through the lens of others’ perception and interest.
In this way, I believe we can build a world that is ethical and respectful of diversity while helping to preserve the multifaceted human experience that we have lived in for most of history.
“The World Is Flat” Thomas L. Friedman (2008) 15 Oct. 2015
British Council Partner Schools Online https://schoolsonline.britishcouncil.org/partner-school/connect-and-collaborate