Saturday, January 27, 2007

Flatworld Teens Save the World! Details in Ten (Years)

Ms. Kim Cofino over at always learning wrote a post about Naomi Kline's book No Logo. One thing that struck Kim while reading the book was how similar to each other are the lives of middle class students around the world, how flat their world already is thanks to their Levi's and backpacks and music and McDonald's.

It makes me think about Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade. It is a book about the effects of video gaming on business culture. Part of the first chapter is devoted to showing old fogies like me just how ubiquitous video games, are. There were video arcade games when I was in high school, but within five years of that time, gaming reached the lives of almost all American children and there it has stayed. The book then goes on to look at the implications of this. It is an interesting read and quite enlightening for old folks like me.

So on one level, you have all these middle class kids around the world leading similar lives. It puts them all in the same club because of their shared experiences and similar tech language. And then I think about the divide between them and the kids without a digital aspect to their lives. This gap could make it nearly impossible for the two groups to understand each other. Will they find a common language? Will they be able to find global solutions to world problems when they cannot identify with the people living there? What about the troubled countries where conflict and poverty have prevented the rise of middle class and its globally homogenizing effect? Will they have any voice?

I guess, they don't have much voice now, so this might not change anything. And I shouldn't sell today's youth short. Statically they seem to be much more service focused than the GenXers. Maybe so many youths worldwide speaking a similar tech and pop culture language will give them enough in common that they can help each other understand their corners of the world.

If they can build those types of bridges, maybe they work together in much more successful ways than NATO and the UN and those types of organizations. Maybe the flat classroom projects that are springing up will start providing the connections needed to make it all happen. Maybe their collective wisdom will be a match for all the global messes they are inheriting.

It sounds like a long shot, but I welcome this chance to think optimistically about the future. Now, as a tech coordinator, I need to get myself in gear and figure out how to do my part. Here's a big thanks to all the edubloggers out there like Clarence Fisher, Kim Cofino, Vicki Davis and so many others who are showing me the way.