Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Story of the Paper Plane: Hollywood Movie in the Making?

You thought that the story of the red balloon you watched so many moons ago was moving. Wait to you hear this one. A poor stateless boy pleads with the authorities of his adopted country to let him compete in an international paper airplane contest--after his airplane stayed aloft for 12.5 seconds and winning in his age bracket "for an expenses-paid, global paper airplane competition held Sept. 19-20 in Chiba, Japan." He was refused his prize--the reason? According to the Global Post "Mong, was ineligible because he was born to Burmese construction workers in the Thai city of Chiang Mai." As a result of the decision he cried all day. As a "a citizen of nowhere." because "Thai law insists that, by parentage, Mong belongs to Burma — a neighboring country that does not even recognize his birth." Mong was a temporary resident at constant risk for deportation. Someone in the media got hold of the story and through a tearful display on TV news and public opinion Thailand's Prime Minister intervened and Mong was allowed to compete.

Apparently there are over two million stateless people in Thailand the result of laws that place immigrant workers at their peril when they leave police states like Burma. It turns out the boy finished the 3rd place and feels proud of his efforts. The larger question is whether the story will bring renewed pressure to ensure that other stateless people are given pathways out of their often desperate situations.
My guess is not until a Hollywood film director gets hold of the film rights. There is no doubting that the film could be a runaway success--what after all could symbolize better what freedom means than a simple paper airplane expertly crafted by a stateless boy?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unsung Hero of the Green Revolution

He may have saved up to a billion lives but it is doubtful if you would recognize the name. His name was Norman Borlaug and he died last week at the age of 95.
Greg Easterbrook writes a compelling tribute in the WSJ-- suggesting that he was possibly the greatest humanitarian of the 20th century. We don't have to deal in the ultimately meaningless game of superlatives to recognize that he was a truly remarkable individual;

"Born in 1914 in rural Cresco, Iowa, where he was educated in a one-room schoolhouse, Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work ending the India-Pakistan food shortage of the mid-1960s. He spent most of his life in impoverished nations, patiently teaching poor farmers in India, Mexico, South America, Africa and elsewhere the Green Revolution agricultural techniques that have prevented the global famines widely predicted when the world population began to skyrocket following World War II."
He invented in essence "high yield agriculture"--and his contributions according to Easterbrook can be measured in these terms:

"First, absent high-yield agriculture, the world would by now be deforested. The 1950 global grain output of 692 million tons and the 2006 output of 2.3 billion tons came from about the same number of acres three times as much food using little additional land. "Without high-yield agriculture," Borlaug said, "increases in food output would have been realized through drastic expansion of acres under cultivation, losses of pristine land a hundred times greater than all losses to urban and suburban expansion."

Easterbook has the credentials to counter what has been considerable environmentalist criticism which he argues,

"was doubly puzzling because in almost every developing nation where high-yield agriculture has been introduced, population growth has slowed as education becomes more important to family success than muscle power."

Let the debate be joined on that one--but let it also be informed by the facts that Easterbrook presents in such a persuasive fashion.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Excuse the Interuption but a Press Release Just Crossed my desk!


Sept. 16, 2009

Contact: Marlene Nesary, ISTE, (541) 302-3789

Pat Walsh, The Ulum Group, (541) 434-7021

ISTE Book Highlights Importance of Integrating Global

Education in the Classroom

Washington, D.C. – Global literacy is an imperative U.S. schools cannot afford to ignore. Now, more than ever, schools must prepare future generations for a global society. To help students gain a more global perspective, “Global Education,” a new book available in August and published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®), provides educators with the tools they need to prepare their student for an increasingly interconnected world.

Written by Laurence Peters, an educator who has held high-level education posts in the U.S. government, the book serves as a guide to help educators connect their students to the world around them. Educators will learn how to enhance learning and provide their students with a global perspective. The book includes hundreds of global education resources, a historical perspective on global education, and an introduction to valuable global networks such as iEarn, Global Schoolhouse and the modern-day pen-pal site ePals.

Recognizing that teachers have limited resources, Peters provides advice on getting started and integrating global education into the current curriculum. Case studies include specific examples of ways in which educators are collaborating and connecting with classrooms in other parts of the world: 11th grade students in Bangladesh exchanging video interviews with 10th grade students in Georgia, high schoolers in Illinois learning Japanese, Hebrew, Latin, Spanish, French and German using online discussion groups with members from around the world, and second graders from different countries exploring connections between their different lifestyles.

“Global Education: Using Technology to Bring the World to Your Students" is available online for $22.35 for ISTE members and $31.95 for nonmembers. More information about the book, including a sample chapter, is available at To watch the companion video go to, or to listen to an ISTE Cast podcast interview with Peters visit

About the Author

Laurence Peters is an educator committed to enhancing the classroom experience with a global dimension. He received his master’s degree in English from the University of London and his doctorate from the University of Michigan. After receiving a law degree, he served as counsel to a U.S. House of Representatives education subcommittee and held senior positions with the U.S. Department of Education from 1993 to 2001. Subsequently, Peters directed the Mid-Atlantic Regional Technology in Education Consortium. He currently teaches a graduate-level course on the integration of global perspectives for the University of Maryland University College and serves as an educational technology consultant and vice president of the National Education Foundation.

About ISTE

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is the trusted source for professional development, knowledge generation, advocacy and leadership for innovation. ISTE is the premier membership association for educators and education leaders engaged in improving teaching and learning by advancing the effective use of technology in PK-12 and teacher education. Home of the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) and ISTE’s annual conference and exposition (formerly known as NECC), ISTE represents more than 100,000 professionals worldwide. We support our members with information, networking opportunities, and guidance as they face the challenge of transforming education.

Visit to learn more about ISTE and its new initiatives—including the next generation of NETS for Students, Teachers and Administrators.

ISTE is the registered trademark of International Society for Technology in Education.


Questions about Empathy

"We live in a culture that discourages empathy. A culture that too often tells us our principle goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained."
--Barack Obama, speech, Jul. 12, 2006

I have been thinking a lot about the reason why we have such a difficult time as a culture realizing that other people's feelings are important--even those far away from us. But then there are times when we can relate --think of the overwhelming positive tide of giving that took place as a result of the tsunami event a few years back that washed away huge numbers of people and large parts of entire countries. Why was that? Because the images the media displayed where ones that we could relate to? Because of the massive nature of the tidal wave that hit all those coastlines in such an unprepared fashion? A similar outpouring of generosity from all around the world took place after Katrina. Could empathy maybe something that is visually triggered--it is the power of certain images --or certain narratives? To just talk or worst still lecture to students about abstract things like the suffering that took place during the great depression or this recent one--or how emerging economies throughout the world--particularly those in Africa and Asia have been harder hit as a result of this economic downturn is to not connect with the brain's empathy centers. We need to see the people, see what they are dealing with --as an entry point into understanding them and empathizing. Is the the fascination with celebrity and "image" is that we believe we can understand that image can hide as well as reveal them as people--do we enjoy playing the game of sorting out the image from their more authentic selves? How do we bring all of these insights into the classroom to inform and encourage the empathy muscle to grow?

I would be interested in a discussion of this--if you are reading me on your Kindle--welcome and please feel join in..

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A World Flag Anyone?

Don't get me wrong, I admire the ideas behind this flag but it is a tapestry, not anything as bold and new as a world flag--however inventive and well researched it is (See the Ode Blog for where I first saw the flag and some of the background behind it.) How about a true world flag with a great noble symbol on it that really resonates as the famous peace symbol in the sixties resonated? You read it here first--yes-- I want to start today to create a new design we can all get behind! How about a challenge to all the school children of the world to design a new flag --could Google or UNICEF sponsor?
Ideas and comments welcome!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back to School with Some Helpful Facts: Everyone can Help

According to Oxfam" The $8.42 trillion promised by rich country governments to bailout banks would be enough to end global extreme poverty for 50 years and a massive step towards ending it forever."

More than one billion people - approximately 1/6 of the world's population are hungry. And every day nearly 16,000 children die from hunger and related causes. We have the resources to feed the world. We just need the will. Learn about global hunger and what you can do to help.

World Hunger Facts:

•1.02 billion people in the world are hungry.
•1 billion people in the world live on less than $1 a day.
"World Development Indicators 2007." The World Bank.
•27 percent of children under 5 are moderately to severely underweight in the developing world. ("State of the World's Children 2007.)

•Nearly one in three people die prematurely or have disabilities due to poor nutrition and calorie deficiencies.
"Malnutrition." (World Health Organization (WHO))
•One in nearly seven people do not get enough food to be healthy, making hunger and malnutrition the number one risk to health worldwide.
UN World Food Programme

We know that the UN estimates that the cost to End World Hunger
It's less than 1% of the world's GDP or about $195 billion a year.

"Twenty-two countries have pledged to donate this money by contributing 0.7% -- less than 1% -- of national income to international aid, but the goal has yet to be reached. Five countries have already met the goal, while others are on target to meet it in a few years. Some, including the U.S.are lagging"

We could all help--there is one program that allows you to support the end world poverty cause by providing a donation everytime you swipe your card with zero cost to you! The End World Poverty offer is worth checking out.

But don't let the politicians off the hook. According to open democracy, "The US was in 2008 ranked seventeenth out of twenty-two rich states in the Center for Global Development's "commitment to development" index (CDI), which measures how far these countries help their poorer counterparts in building prosperity, good government, and security. There is big scope for improvement, but amid recession and large-scale unemployment there will also be big temptations (including protectionist temptations) to lapse"

Don't let them lapse! Remind your politicians of their commitments!