KTM User Pages
21 Jul 2006 - 18:54
I am gravely disappointed in Tom Friedman.
What will higher education look like in 50 years? If you weren't in Honolulu a couple of weeks ago, you might not know....But a glance at the panels of a conference convened there -- called "The Campus of the Future" -- offers a clue: College in the coming decades will have even less to do with learning than it does now. Of the conference's almost 200 offerings -- e.g., "Responding to Climate Change," "Branding Your Identity" and "Takin' It to the Streets" -- none seemed to have even a tangential relation to the idea that, in college, teachers are supposed to impart knowledge to students.
I don't get it. Tom Friedman has not, to my knowledge, attended ed school. So where is he getting this stuff? Did he come up with "the future will be different" on his own? Or do these people call each other up at night?
The Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education (1918)
From Here to There: The Road to Reform of American High Schools (6-page history from DOE)
John Gatto Taylor on The Cardinal Principles
Tom Friedman piles on
Tom Friedman, Tom Friedman
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Friedman can often be disappointing. -- SusanS - 21 Jul 2006
I hate to drag this site too far off math. But my take is Freidman is a very intelligent guy, who is something of a subject matter expert on international politics due to his reporting background. Because of this he gets to attend a lot of elite conferences, retreats, etc. He then becomes the clever articulator of the conventional wisdom of whatever group he has just been around. You could call it the Charlie Rose syndrome. Want to know the sentiment going around the cocktail parties at Davos? Just ask him. He’ll tell you. And tell you. And tell you.... -- BenCalvin - 21 Jul 2006
Davos man -- CatherineJohnson - 22 Jul 2006
Susan ditto -- CatherineJohnson - 22 Jul 2006
I've got to get my friend Donna to tell me what Friedman makes per speech. It's going to be $50,000 AT LEAST. -- CatherineJohnson - 22 Jul 2006
Davos Man is Samuel Huntington's term -- CatherineJohnson - 22 Jul 2006
This guy says $45,000 -- CatherineJohnson - 22 Jul 2006
I think Freidman is correct about the future being unknowable and I even like his analogy:
suggested to his audience of 4,000 that preparing students for an uncertain future was akin to "training for the Olympics without knowing which sport you will compete in."Where I think he (and the Ed schools) and I differ is in what we think we should do about it. I would train for the decathalon, figuring that I'd be competative (if not the best) at whatever sport I wound up competing in. The Ed school solution seems to be to not train at all because you don't know the sport. I bet a trained decathalete would beat someone who hadn't trained at all in a "random sport". I'd then argue that the educational equivalent of training for a decathalon is learning to read, and write and do math and know history and study a foreign language and study science. Hey, this is what a classical liberal education circa 1890 was all about! -Mark Roulo -- KtmGuest - 22 Jul 2006
I have to write a post about this, because I'm living the kind of life everyone thinks we'll live in the 21st century - I'm a "free lance" nonfiction writer who has to be able to take on whole new fields and learn something about them rapidly. I absolutely agree with this statement: I'd then argue that the educational equivalent of training for a decathalon is learning to read, and write and do math and know history and study a foreign language and study science. I've built an entire career on my Wellesley/Dartmouth liberal arts education. I'm still writing about things I learned in college (magical number 7, anyone?) - and when those things have been superceded by new knowledge, I've been able to learn the new findings quickly. Hirsch is right: learning begets learning. My entire frustration with my own education is that I didn't learn (i.e. memorize & understand) enough. I needed far more math, history, and literature. -- CatherineJohnson - 22 Jul 2006
The fallacy in the reasoning about "life changes, therefore why bother with facts?" is that by definition facts don't change. Theories may, but facts do not. The building blocks by which we learn to read or do math problems are invariant. One of the beautiful things about math is that as theories change, the supporting facts remain the same. But the ed school view is that the goal posts are constantly being moved. This theme, in a slightly different context (posted somewhere on KTM regarding my objection to a test item on a sample reading exam for future teachers in California) was addressed by SteveH? rather wryly when he asked "Has anyone checked what 8 x 7 is lately?" Thanks to SteveH for that; I use that witticism almost on a daily basis. -- BarryGarelick - 22 Jul 2006
All of these futurists radically overestimate the changes in knowledge, IMO. The stuff that's true today will still be true tomorrow, and the stuff that's not true today isn't going to be revised 5 seconds from now. -- CatherineJohnson - 22 Jul 2006
oh! I see Barry just said that! and much better than I did.....the facts aren't going to change -- CatherineJohnson - 22 Jul 2006
Friedman is silly. Who thinks that the world has become smaller (in a communications sense), and then decides the appropriate metaphor is that the world is flat? Points on a flat world are further away from each other than they are if that world is wrapped around a globe. Since we are on a globe I am closer to New York in terms of distance than if I was on a flat world. All the digging might make it longer in terms of time if I was to go to New York by the shortest distance route of course - but if I was on a flat world the travel time for a surface trip would not be any shorter than no the globe either. -- TracyW - 23 Jul 2006
I have GOT to find that Friedman take-down.....it was one of the funniest things I've ever read. Savage, but funny. or: savage & therefore funny! -- CatherineJohnson - 24 Jul 2006
Unbelievable. I found it. review World Is Flat I think it was about five months ago that Press editor Alex Zaitchik whispered to me in the office hallway that Thomas Friedman had a new book coming out. All he knew about it was the title, but that was enough; he approached me with the chilled demeanor of a British spy who has just discovered that Hitler was secretly buying up the world’s manganese supply. Who knew what it meant—but one had to assume the worst "It's going to be called The Flattening," he whispered. Then he stood there, eyebrows raised, staring at me, waiting to see the effect of the news when it landed. I said nothing. It turned out Alex had bad information; the book that ultimately came out would be called The World Is Flat. It didn't matter. Either version suggested the same horrifying possibility. Thomas Friedman in possession of 500 pages of ruminations on the metaphorical theme of flatness would be a very dangerous thing indeed. It would be like letting a chimpanzee loose in the NORAD control room; even the best-case scenario is an image that could keep you awake well into your 50s. So I tried not to think about it. But when I heard the book was actually coming out, I started to worry. Among other things, I knew I would be asked to write the review. The usual ratio of Friedman criticism is 2:1, i.e., two human words to make sense of each single word of Friedmanese. Friedman is such a genius of literary incompetence that even his most innocent passages invite feature-length essays. I'll give you an example, drawn at random from The World Is Flat. On page 174, Friedman is describing a flight he took on Southwest Airlines from Baltimore to Hartford, Connecticut. (Friedman never forgets to name the company or the brand name; if he had written The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa would have awoken from uneasy dreams in a Sealy Posturepedic.) Here's what he says: I stomped off, went through security, bought a Cinnabon, and glumly sat at the back of the B line, waiting to be herded on board so that I could hunt for space in the overhead bins. Forget the Cinnabon. Name me a herd animal that hunts. Name me one. This would be a small thing were it not for the overall pattern. Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.
tour de force
-- CatherineJohnson - 24 Jul 2006
that is great. On the decathlon metaphor, I've told our niece, and will tell our son when he's old enough, if you can't decide what to do with your life, go study something while you're waiting! Whatever happens in the future, you will be better prepared both in the specific skill you've learned (accounting won't kill you) and in the practice of acquiring new skills when you do find out what you need to learn. -- BenCalvin - 24 Jul 2006
a much-cited friedman parody (at the american prospect)
Thomas Friedman is a Great Man: a "parody" site
by a tireless blogger.
the moustache of understanding (comic by a guy who can't draw).
this ill-documented page conflates the (matt taibbi) review
catherine cited with michael kubin's how-to-write-like-friedman thing
(evidently out of print in its original form but quoted at length here). more attention than the silly SOB deserves already.
i found a hilarious piece about his prose style
a couple months ago and have been looking for it
just now with no success. thought i'd share
some of the stuff i did find. -- VlorbikDotCom - 25 Jul 2006
another fine matt taibbi piece.
a (downright erudite) blog post and comments thread in "making light"; another.
lots of short parodies in this thread at asymmetrical information. another fine comments thread (crooked timber), including links to do fries come with this tripe? and outsourcing thomas friedman.
okay, that's it. getting back to work. -- VlorbikDotCom - 25 Jul 2006
"[Tom] Friedman "urged educators to focus less on concrete outcomes like grades and test scores and more on teaching students how to learn, instilling passion and curiosity in them and developing their intuitive skills" ... " And what better way to test students on their ability to learn than by requiring them to learn a lot of content and master skills. What better way to inspire passion and curiosity than by actually doing something concrete. The only way to develop "intuitive skills" is through content knowledge and practice. What better way to learn how to do math than by doing math. Imagine! Great ideas are easy. I get them all of the time. Results, however, require practice and hard work. Otherwise, all we would have to do is listen to a few motivational speakers. But, after an hour, you're back on the couch watching TV and eating potato chips. Thinking is not doing. Of course, progressive educators do teach content and skills. They KNOW these things are required. The main difference is low expectations and fluff educational talk. Rubrics, portfolios, authentic education. Hard work is a filter and they just don't like that. They don't want education to be a filter, so they eliminate the hard work by calling it "drill and kill" and then say that there is no linkage between understanding and practice. Learning how to learn is more important than outcomes of tests that measure how well a student can actually learn? Moronic. -- SteveH - 26 Jul 2006
SteveH?-- Well said! -- KarenA - 26 Jul 2006
"On the decathlon metaphor, I've told our niece, and will tell our son when he's old enough, if you can't decide what to do with your life, go study something while you're waiting!" I tell kids to close as few educational doors as possible. They need to be in charge of their choices when they get ready to decide. Otherwise, their only choice will be to ask: "Do you want fries with that?" "[Mr. Friedman] suggested to his audience of 4,000 that preparing students for an uncertain future was akin to 'training for the Olympics without knowing which sport you will compete in.'" Sounds to me like he's calling for a return to mastery of the basics. Friedman is metaphor challenged. Perhaps he thinks that coaches should focus less on concrete outcomes like basic skills, scores, and winning and more on teaching students how to learn to play a sport, instilling passion and curiosity in them and developing their intuitive skills ... (as opposed to real skills). -- SteveH - 26 Jul 2006
if you can't decide what to do with your life, go study something while you're waiting! oh, jeez no kidding -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Jul 2006
V How did I know you would have the complete bibliography of Tom Friedman parodies? -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Jul 2006
These will come in handy. -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Jul 2006
"...[A]s I Quarter-Poundered my way around the world in recent years, I began to notice something intriguing. I don't know when the insight struck me. It was a bolt out of the blue.... And it was this: No two countries that both had McDonald?'s had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald?'s." good lord I didn't know he actually said that When I first read the McDonald's line I thought that was a parody of something he said -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Jul 2006