“Why I’m Not Preparing My Students to Compete in the Global Marketplace”

WHAT'S GOTTEN INTO US? by McKay Jenkins

by McKay Jenkins, author of What’s Gotten into Us?: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World (Random House, 2011)

In a controversial and thought-provoking Op-Ed published last week in The Chronicle Review entitled “Why I’m Not Preparing My Students to Compete in the Global Marketplace” (1/15/12) , author McKay Jenkins challenged himself and his colleagues to reconsider the prevailing notion–perhaps mantra–that educators must equip and orient all of their students to compete globally.   

While Jenkins agreed that a strong knowledge and awareness of other peoples and places in this inter-connected world is indeed important, he wonders if our focus has gone out of wack, and if one of the core puposes of a good education–that of bettering of one’s self and one’s environment–is becoming lost, unfortuntely most of all on today’s students.  He writes: “For all the talk of “globalization” as the very engine of their generation’s future prospects, my students seemed far more concerned about disappearing jobs at home, rising global temperatures, and a general anxiety about what it all meant.” 

In response to their concerns, Jenkins employed classroom exercises to get students thinking about more “local” issues.  These exercises, which he describes in his piece, begat several successful and impactful projects to address local problems and ultimately led to an increase in student engagement and excitement.  McKay then brings the conversation back full circle and wonders if the solutions to the world’s “global” problems may ironically be found in local work.

What do you think?  Do you agree with McKay’s sentiment?  How would such a stance be received by your students, colleagues? The first 5 people to post a comment will receive a free copy of McKay’s most recent book, What’s Gotten into Us?: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World (Random House, 2011)

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2 Comments

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2 responses to ““Why I’m Not Preparing My Students to Compete in the Global Marketplace”

  1. Katie

    I can understand the value of what the author is discussing. By engaging students in the community they live in, they can have victories and see themselves making a difference. However, the world really is a smaller place- with quicker travel and the internet. Can’t we connect both the local and global picture together and prepare effective and engaged global citizens?

  2. Peter

    I think the point is the students might benefit from not worrying about becoming “an engaged global citizen”, perhaps everyone would be better served by becoming “engaged local citizens” and working towards their own and their neighbours well-being.

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