Average Doesn’t Cut It Any More

Here’s a great editorial piece from Thomas L Friedman about how, in a changing world economic scenario, average just doesn’t rate very much of a return any more.

New York Times Editorial – Thomas L Friedman

The global forces that are highlighted in the piece throw up many fascinating questions;

  1. Whose responsibility is it to ensure that all citizens have the skills necessary to be economically productive?
  2. To what extent do the 99% have the right to complain that the 1% are enjoying ‘too much of the pie?
  3. How do education systems need to respond to the changing needs to ensure that young people grow up to be able to excel in this ‘new world order’?
  4. Keeping in mind that china has stolen a march to become the manufacturing powerhouse of the world (and whatever debatable costs), how can India ensure productive meaningful work and upliftment for its 1.2 billion population?
  5. Are people willing to invest their own time productively to ensure that, personally, they are always staying well ahead of the ‘average’?
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4 Responses

  1. Nice post, educators need to provide equal opportunity to their students. Does TSRS provide equal opportunities to its girls and boys? My experience is that the boys get selected for hurdles and spell bee; the girls watch and cheer. Is that fair? Is that right?

    • Your question about equality of opportunities/ equality of actions based upon gender is a fascinating one – one that I spend considerable time thinking about. I have gone on record at a number of events in school as saying that in a knowledge economy, every country needs access to the best minds trained to the greatest extent – and that half those minds (at least!) happen to be walking around in female bodies. plain and simple, there is no place for gender bias in a modern society.

      Even within the last week I had a conversation with a number of the EC members and Principals about the low representation of females in the senior schools’ student councils, especially in terms of taking high office. The processes by which students are selected for office are very democratic. However, I’m painfully aware that certain ‘self-selecting’ processes are meaning that girls don’t become head of Student Council (since Kritika a few years ago at Aravali), but do very often become Chief Editor of the magazine.

      Similar things happen on the sports field. For a few years we have tried to get decent competition for a girls soccer team, but with little success with other schools running scared continually and (very sadly) claiming that they cannot be sure to put a full team together. I’ve quoted Mia Hamm (the number one women’s soccer player from USA) on occasions in school functions.

      However, we are contending with ‘big’ society forces. On sports day you will see the girls events contested by a very small group of girls, so much so that there may not even be enough competitors to arrange races beyond 400m. This is a really sorry state of affairs and one that i have repeatedly discussed with senior staff and games teachers. However, i acknowledge that solutions have largely been absent so far.

      I am somewhat involved with Delhi Hurricanes Rugby Club where I am so pleased to see an enthusiastic embryonic womens’ rugby team emerging, training and playing with every bit as much enthusiasm as the men.

      Physical wellness and bodily fitness are just as important for women as men, without prejudice, plain and simple.

      • I agree entirely with you. So much so that I feel educators and parents should come together to make sure girls get equal representation in both the sports field and other extra curricular areas (debating/spell bee etc).

      • What things do you have in mind?

        Forced ‘quotas’ and positive discrimination have some undesirable side-effects. For example, in UK I remember when companies had targets in the early 1990s to get women on to boards and in to senior management positions. Unfortunately, the backlash was that when women got in to those positions, even fully on merit, they weren’t given respect and sometimes the roles were impossible because they could so easily be undermined by allegations that they weren’t worthy, but merely promoted to meet quotas.

        I think we have to find many ways to work at the attitudinal levels, the peer pressure etc. Re student council type roles it goes alongside the issue of having students vote on the basis of genuine ability to contribute in the roles, rather than on ‘popularity’.

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