Thursday, May 31, 2012

Should Global Competitiveness Be the Main Driver of Education Reform?

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent discussion-list post “Should Global Competitiveness Be the Main Driver of Education Reform?” The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: EDDRA2’s Michael Paul Goldenberg pointed to a guest post by Gerald Coles “Educating to Compete in the ‘Global Economy’: Creating Idiot Savantism” at Coles, in turn, pointed to Diane Ravitch's “Flunking Arne Duncan” at Ravitch wrote: “. . . . the nation forgot that education has a greater purpose than preparing our children to compete in the global economy.”

I agree with Coles and Ravitch that “global competitiveness” should not be the main driver of education reform. In a discussion list post “Is the 'Skills Slowdown' the Biggest Issue Facing the Nation?” at, I countered David Brooks’ claim that it was, arguing that the “Threat to Life on Planet Earth” was the biggest issue facing the nation.

Likewise, I think the “Threat to Life on Planet Earth,” and NOT “global competitiveness,” should be the main driver of education reform, contrary to the themes of NRC reports: (a) Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Future of 2007 at; (b) Is America Falling Off the Flat Earth?" of 2007 at; and (c) Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5 of 2010 at

To access the complete 23 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles:
Links to SDI Labs:

“The global population is precariously large, and will become much more so before peaking some time after 2050. Humanity overall is improving per capita production, health, and longevity. But it is doing so by eating up the planet’s capital, including natural resources and biological diversity millions of years old. Homo sapiens is approaching the limit of its food and water supply. Unlike any species before, it is also changing the world’s atmosphere and climate, lowering and polluting water tables, shrinking forests, and spreading deserts. Most of the stress originates directly or indirectly from a handful of industrialized countries. Their proven formulas for prosperity are being eagerly adopted by the rest of the world. The emulation cannot be sustained, not with the same levels of consumption and waste. Even if the industrialization of the developing countries is only partially successful, the environmental aftershock will dwarf the population explosion that preceded it.”
- E.O. Wilson (1998)

“The paleoclimate record makes it clear that a target to keep human made global warming less than 2°C, as proposed in some international discussions, is not sufficient - it is a prescription for disaster. . . .[[my italics]]. . . Assessment of the dangerous level of CO2, and the dangerous level of warming, is made difficult by the inertia of the climate system. The inertia, especially of the ocean and ice sheets, allows us to introduce powerful climate forcings such as atmospheric CO2 with only moderate initial response. But that inertia is not our friend - it means that we are building in changes for future generations that will be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid.”
- James Hansen & Makiko Sato (2011)

REFERENCES [All URL’s accessed on 30 May 2012, most shortened by]
Hake, R.R. 2012. “Should Global Competitiveness Be the Main Driver of Education Reform?” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at Post of 30 May 2012 19:44:01-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are also being transmitted to several discussion lists.

Hansen, J.E. & M. Sato. 2011. “Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change,” 20 July, online at; to appear in Berger, Mesinger, and Sijaci, eds., Climate Change at the Eve of the Second Decade of the Century: Inferences from Paleoclimate and Regional Aspects: Proceedings of Milutin Milankovitch 130th Anniversary Symposium (Springer, in press), a popularization of this paper is online as a 213 kB pdf at

Wilson, E.O. 1998. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. Knopf. information at, note the searchable “Look Inside” feature.

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