Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Going Global: Ideas for A New Education

Our contexts are global already, and with every passing day, it will be more and more global. This is irreversible: The Information and Communication Technologies, the cheap travel, the global movements of capital, all point to the same direction. However, I say this with sadness, as I mourn the passing of the local, the familiar and the native; I am not a cheerleader of the march of the flat world. Rather, I am deeply foreign, a person from the periphery rather than the centre, and my world and upbringing are full of special things that will need preserving. But I say this as a statement of fact, something that is happening in front of us, and with foreboding, because if we live in denial, we get marginalised.

If this isn't a celebration of globalism, I am not complaining either. It is not just that global reach of technologies and global reach of money has suddenly ripped open the treasure trove of my childhood land; I see globalism as an inherent tendency, an inescapable future of our universal human nature. It is not just that technology mandated globalism, we shaped technology to enable our deep desires to know and to connect. It is only the format, that of the centre and a periphery, that I resent to, and reject the assertions that it has to be likewise: In my global conception, there are many nodes connected to each other, each an originator and a receiver of ideas, each with equal claim to authenticity: The ultimate flat world. 

I argue that if going global is inevitable, staying home isn't the best way to address the imbalances. This is why I travelled. I engaged with different cultures and people with respect, not losing my sense of identity but expanding it to absorb, to know and to adapt. This, despite the occasional accusations of lost identity, has given me a vantage point to enjoy and celebrate globalism. For me, the meshing of the global and the local, the babble of Bebel on Facebook unified by friendship and attempts to read one another, is the form and function of humanity in our age: It can not be anything else.

However, still, culture shocks reign supreme. I see this as a failure of education. We have evolved deeply national forms of education, which gives us the illusion of knowledge. We seem to know what is already passe, a divided world operated with rules of another century, of a time before technologies and possibilities ripped open our walls and thrown open our individual boundaries. Those were shaped before our lives could expand beyond the visual fields of of our political masters. Our Education didn't seem to get that we have been freed of serfdom all over again.

So, surf, not serf - is the mantra of our age, and we need an education to match that. This isn't what college offers, tied as they are with their funding bodies and filled forms. Indeed, education is about reproducing the society as it is, ad infinitum, rather than disrupting it and recreating it. But this is how it is, and how it should be, if the education has to make any sense in the lives of the graduates it produces. This may be the task that us, people of the global generation, must take upon ourselves.

I have said this before: This is what I want to do. The journey may be difficult (I have my fair share already), the path may be circuitous, and the outcomes indistinct, but having leaped already, I feel certain that we must throw open the possibilities for a generation of global leaders, entrepreneurs and thinkers to emerge. This isn't just about exporting the wares from the centre to the periphery, but also to make the reverse journey, to integrate and to exchange, to build respect and understanding, to free up and fire up a new, global imagination. It is not about hub-and-spoke, but being without a centre: It is about freedom of imagination and ideas, regardless of where they emerge from, interlinked with the possibilities of a common human future.

In this age of instant communication, global warming, Facebook and weapons of mass destruction, it is lamentable that only our Education should remain confined in our friendly neighbourhood classroom.

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