Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 18 March 2017; Thomas Friedman, the author of The World is Flat and The New York Times foreign affairs columnist, batted for old values, which he said “matters more than ever” today in education, and underlined the need for teachers and students to “own the education space.”
At a ‘Meet the Mentor' session at the fifth Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF), a Varkey Foundation initiative, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, he said: “The older I get, the more I come to believe that the two most important words in life are ‘self' and ‘sustaining.' When ownership is in the room, good things happen, and they are self-sustainable.”
Describing teachers as the greatest philanthropists in the world and teaching as a hard job, he said his view on education is very simple: “95 per cent of it is parenting and 5 per cent by teachers.” And when parents take interest in their children's education, you can “make every good teacher a great one, and every great teacher a fantastic one.”
Friedman said all the big challenges of today have its roots in 2007, when “we experienced an exponential year in our lives' – the year that witnessed the launch of the iPhone, Facebook becoming accessible for anyone with an email, the roll out of Twitter, Kindle, Android, and Airbnb, among others. But the world completely missed it all, he observed, because of 2008 – when it plummeted into the economic crisis.
“So while our physical technologies took off, all of our social technologies – the reforms that needed to go with that – completely froze, and a lot of people got caught. The collision of 2007 and 2008 created the foundation of Brexit, Trumpism,” said Friedman.
He observed that the fall-out of these two shifts was the loss of high-wage middle-skill jobs – which is what education must deliver today.