Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Brief Notes from Vancouver -- Seattle

EDITOR'S NOTE: People might read this post and think I am being critical of United States students or citizens. I realize that people learn differently and that people have different goals and life concerns that keep them focused on certain things and divert their focus from other things. What I want to make clear is a question of motives in education. Do we (the United States) want to be aware of more than what concerns our individual selves? Is that question answered by answering other questions? For example, are teaching methods that gear a student's interests to international ideas just not interesting? Are teachers hamstrung by what is available to them in the classroom, through budgetary allotments, through politics? Do we really not have to concern ourselves with other countries or their cultures or their backgrounds and interests?

The conversation that I only briefly describe below answers a lot of those questions, in some ways. It tells me that we are inherently curious about other people, but perhaps we are not, as students, given the right exposure, or enough exposure to their learning styles, their cultures, or their politics. Perhaps we are only given a one-dimensional view of the world, one that is filtered to be one-dimensional.

I hope that through this blog, I can learn about ways to incorporate, for learners, for students, for investors, and for operators of schools, a new community that helps people solve problems or issues like these.

Okay, now you can read what I wrote originally, below....

The bus made it into Seattle last night, following Interstate 5 and ending up with a great glimpse of the Space Needle and the waterfront. Sitting behind me were three guys from London answering questions posed to them by a fellow American seated behind them.

It struck me that on my travels I sometimes run into other travelers who are traveling, yet who are not quite aware of the world they are traveling in.

"So, is the economy bad over in England, too?"

"I never made it much around Europe, I mostly spent it in clubs. Is there a lot of traffic in England?"

The London guys had their own take on the world. Interspersed between the American's questions and their answers were conversations between themselves that included a pretty deft explanation of the EU and the Lisbon Treaty, Tony Blair's recent comments about how he'd like to be the President of the United States of Europe -- this comment required an explanation to the American of the difference between the current setup of the EU and a federal republic -- and interesting comments about the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, their differences and the historical context (Vietnam) that the US effort in Afghanistan is couched in.

The whole thing made me wonder, what is the educational system in England like compared to the educational system in the United States? In other words, what are the purposes of education in those two countries?

Do we in the United States educate people to be accepted in the workplace in America, or in the world?

That's something I will mull over during the next two or three days. I will later post an interview I did with Judith Murray, Online Director at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia.

There you will find some interesting differences between the Canadian education system and the one we follow in the United States. Revealing, thoughtful and interesting.

And now, I am in Seattle. I guess I should have a coffee.

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