Globalization is how many describe the period in which we live. It is clearly dynamic and characterized by near constant change. Furthermore, globalization describes an ongoing process by which economies, societies and cultures have become integrated through globe-spanning networks. Experts agree that it is driven by a combination of economic, technological, sociocultural, political and biological factors. Furthermore, it also refers to the transnational dissemination of ideas, languages, or popular culture. Tom Friedman, the celebrated author described it in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree as “the 100-meter dash, over and over and over. And no matter how many times you win, you have to race again the next day. And if you lose by just one-hundredth of a second, it can be as if you lost by an hour.
Clearly, leaders have a major role in how their organizations and teams deal with both the challenges and opportunities of globalization. I recently ran a series of seminars for a large school district leadership team focused on various aspects of globalization and how it affects education. We discussed in detail changes that every school district must consider both in terms of structure and curriculum. One of our speakers made a remarkable observation. “Educators,” he said “are the first responders to globalization”.
I am firmly convinced this is absolutely true. Educators are members of a profession. Dr. Andrew Abbott, one of the nation’s experts on the sociology of professions, argues that professions (theologians, the military, law enforcement, and doctors) have three common characteristics. First, each is responsible for the continued development of an abstract body of knowledge that is critical to society. Second, society grants professions a certain level of autonomy. Professions have rituals and licensing to grant membership and have the authority to remove individuals if they violate its norms. Third, each profession provides a service to society, which is critical if it is to endure and prosper. With this in mind I believe society holds leaders in education responsible for preparing the next generation to deal with both the challenges and opportunities that globalization offers.
As I thought about this further I was reminded of the words of another great “educator” – Fred Rogers (AKA “Mr. Rogers”). Fred once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ Globalization may be scary at times to all of us, and particularly students who realize it will frame their future. Consequently, if Fred’s Mom was with us today I think she would be talking about educators….
 Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, New York: Anchor Books, 2000, p. 7.
Image from HERE.
Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.