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  • Writer's pictureJames Kerr

Responding to T.L. Friedman: It's P.Q. and C.Q. As Much As I.Q.

After reading the editorial " It's P.Q. and C.Q. as much as I.Q. (Thomas Friedman, 2013), I wish to shout out an "Amen!" Why should anyone ever feel or consider that a degree or any aspect of learning is terminal in nature.

As we have learned this year, even the virtuosos are still learning. What is striking in the article is the political statement about the piece of the pie that is available to an American worker today. Friedman quotes from an interview with Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee about their book: "A Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy." “But there is no economic law that says technological progress has to benefit everyone. It’s entirely possible for the pie to get bigger and some people to get a smaller slice.” This is indeed a striking statement that appears to clearly describe the economic reality of our current economy.

As large multinational companies assume larger profits, the pie grows, But, what do the workers experience? From a teacher’s perspective I believe it means that even though the pie is growing, there is no guarantee that professional teachers will receive a larger slice. The only potential for a greater piece of the pie must be found in the re-invention of the role of the teacher in the context of the international market. To be more specific, degrees and training, even for those who have attained Master's degrees and Doctoral degrees are no longer sufficient personal capital. To compete in the 21st century marketplace will require constant updating of skills, and potentially active participation in revitalization of the education industry. As the American economy updates to respond to the internationalization of resources, teachers must also be active participants in the restructuring of education. The slice of the pie can be larger for professional teachers, but as a population of learners and teachers, we must make it so.

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