A year ago, we received daily reports about the effects of the horrible earthquake… not the ones in Christchurch or Sendai, but in Port-au-Prince. And then there was the eruption of the volcano in Iceland, which disrupted aviation for a good month. Some of my students who had gone to Europe on a school trip or with their families had experienced flight delays.
But back in the classroom, many of my students of French didn’t seem to understand why they should study a language, and weren’t connecting the dots about how the global economy worked or affected them. So I made a list of some news stories of the day, such as these (but very short and in basic French):
- Whitney Houston and John Cleese had to re-route their travel (taking a ferry, taxi, etc.) to make it to their respective performances in various European countries. Airlines lost $200M a day.
- Weddings in NYC lacked flowers because planes couldn’t leave the Netherlands, Switzerland ran low on asparagus from the U.S. and fish from Vietnam, vegetable and flower growers in Kenya couldn’t ship their products to Europe (leaving thousands of employees without work), and Italian mozzarella makers couldn’t deliver their product, either (lost $14M/day).
- A car factory in Tokyo had to shut down temporarily because it didn’t receive parts from Ireland.
- A runner who was supposed to participate in the Boston Marathon was stuck in Brussels.
- And perhaps scariest of all stories: organ transplants in Germany depended less on the greatest medical need and more on whether organs could be delivered to potential recipients by car.
(News sources are at the end of the post.)
I asked students to write a brief reaction to this. Some understood that the disruption not only posed an inconvenience to vacation travelers, but that the global economy affects just about any type of job. I hope the exercise opened a few eyes.
But are we doing enough to prepare students for the real world? Many of my students seemed absolutely convinced that they could spend their entire lives in their quaint hometown without being affected by the global economy. They had looked at me in total disbelief when I opined that they’d instead be competing for jobs with everyone else in the world, even if they never left town.
So I was very pleased to read about Avenues: The World School. It’s a new type of school, with a plan for global competency.
Yes, it’s a global school: the first branch will be in New York City, and about 20 others in Mumbai, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Paris, etc., all connected by technology and curriculum.
Have you ever heard of a school with a research and development team? Innovative, interdisciplinary courses such as demography and environmental sustainability will be offered.
Fluency in—not just study of—at least one foreign language is required; this learning starts in the Avenues preschool. There are options for students to study abroad for up to 15 months before graduating from high school.
The school’s leaders have been holding meetings for interested parents for a couple of months, and nearly every meeting is filled to capacity.
Check out the video on the Avenues website:
Our schools must prepare students for the present and the future!
Today, all types of news and information from any country affects the others. At work, we interact domestically and remotely with many foreign-born colleagues and suppliers, are ourselves asked to travel or live abroad for work, and perhaps most importantly, customers are located anywhere on the planet. Global companies often hire managers who have lived abroad and have the cross-cultural business skills to understand the interpersonal environment and develop target markets.
How can we design, market, sell, and deliver products and services for global markets if we don’t understand those markets?
News Sources (Icelandic volcano):