What big take aways do you have from reading Friedman?
What are the limitations?
I have really enjoyed reading Friedman’s book. The messages he shares, from a world outside of education, are so powerful and how he shared them through his stories of his own life experiences and reflections made it all that much more interesting. Despite the fact that he is in a completely different field, he manages to (in my opinion) express the excitement and concern that we all feel of living life in today’s world.
I think my biggest take aways come from Friedman’s discussion of and constant personal reflection. Our world is in a state of constant change. “This is how it’s always been done” is no longer acceptable because everything around whatever “this” is, is no longer the same either. So whatever “this” is, needs to change, update, and/or be more flexible. As a teacher, one of the big questions that is constantly at the forefront of my mind is “How can I have done that better?” or “What do I need to change?” From those type of questions, I’m able to confidently, continue to grow and learn as a teacher and as a human. Even Friedman (2016) believes that “if there was ever a time to pause for moral reflection, it is now” (p. 340). As he quoted Leon Wieseltier (2015) “Every technology is used before it is completely understood...there is always a lag between an innovation and the apprehension of its consequences. We are living in that lag...we have much to gain and much to lose” (p. 340). I feel like when we stop learning and stop reflecting, when we think we have truly learned all there is to know, is when we assume the attitude of “this is how it’s always been done”. And that attitude can be dangerous. By shutting yourself down to learning, the changes in our world and our society can sneak up on you with no choice now but to adjust immediately.
Friedman (2016) stated that in the Middle East the dominant political ideology was “‘I am weak, how can I compromise? I am strong, why should I compromise?’ The notion of there being ‘a common good’ and ‘a middle ground’ that we all compromise for and upon- not to mention a higher community calling we work to sustain- was simply not in the lexicon” (p. 447-448). Sadly, he also mentioned that what he saw in Washington DC was not that much different. Are these changes in society caused by a lack of reflection? Are we no longer looking at what is happening in other cultures and reflecting on why it’s happening? Are we no longer reflecting on how we can collaborate and thinking only of ourselves? This lack of reflection is happening on a large scale than in our own individual lives, but I still believe that when a larger shift happens those who have not reflected and started to adjust, will struggle with the changes, whatever that may look like.
Friedman broke his book into four sections: reflecting, accelerating, innovating, and anchoring. I believe that accelerating, innovating, and anchoring are all reliant on reflecting. How do you know you’re accelerating unless you’re reflective on where you have been? How can you innovate, unless you reflect on your failures? How can you find and recognize your anchor...be it person(s) or place(s), unless you reflect on your life?
As for the limitations of Friedman’s book, I cannot say there are many. He shares many political stories about situations that I am not familiar with due a variety of reasons. Regardless of my unawareness, he outlines the needed information in order to understand the purpose of his story. Due to how he framed everything, I was able to understand his point and then apply it to my situation in education or life in general.