My students weigh in on Friedman’s Flat World

When my students speak, I prepare to listen and be inspired. I am devouring Thomas Friedman's Book, The World is Flat. I handed my students an excerpt and asked them the following question of the week:

From your excerpt of the book The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, you are to select the topic that most interests you. You are to explain and discuss this thought with one adult that you respect. After discussing you are to post the following:

20 points 1) A brief synopsis of the topic you have selected. Explain it.
10 points 2) Why that topic interests you.
10 points 3) The profession of the adult you have discussed the topic with.
30 points 4) Their reaction to the topic and whether they agree or disagree.
30 points 5) Your thoughts about how this topic will impact your future decisions concerning career, classes that you will take, and your future.

I structured the question this way because to explain it to another person, particulary an adult, requires a more advanced understanding of the material. I wanted them to read it! My amazing students never let me down! (I always wonder if they are so amazing because I believe it and treat them in such a way.)

In particular, I like Friedman's assertion that:

CQ (curiosity quotient) + PQ (passion quotient) > IQ

Here is how two of my students responded:

SH says:

So many teachers spend more time on teaching that they forget to get excited about what they are teaching! Class is so much more enjoyable when your teacher is having fun because it rubs off on you! If you care about what you are trying to learn then you will do your hardest to learn it and go over the top about the subject. You will be a self educator and a self motivator! No one learns more than when you are genuinely curious about a subject.

CC says:

I discussed this with my mother, an interior designer, and her overrall reaction to the subject was agreement. She is a very artistic individual, and she said she only did well in the artistic-minded subjects in school, but her IQ level based on GPA did not shape her success as a designer. It was her enthusiasm for what she loved to do and her passion for other people that brought her to success. She stated that many intelligent people have a propensity to seek knowledge from others because they are usually, or feel as if they are, intellectually superior. Although that is not always the case, someone who is an avid learner of his passion will be more likely to continue learning about it. When I was struggling with a decision, my mother along with another adult I respect told me the same thing: do what “you” want to do. Life is too short to waste time doing something you do not love. My mother said that passion gives someone a curiosity to develop and learn about the subject in which he or she is interested. Lack of interest makes for a lack of effort.

With this idea in mind, I will be sure not to wade through college mired in subjects that do not interest me. I will take relevant courses and strive for a major I can enjoy and excel in. I read a book recently that said “Make an adventure out of everything.” I think that can be tied into this idea. If I can apply adventure, curiosity, and passion to my life, it will take me much further than a high intelligence quotient could. People with high intelligence, if they have not already, must use their intelligence and see the potential they contain. Whatever career path, college courses, or future choices I may make, I will be sure to choose something I can enjoy. I only want to give my all, my 100%, and how can I do that if I do not have a desire to do so?

Wow! Blogging allows me to add a whole new dimension to my classroom and tackle important subjects that we only have time to briefly discuss in class. It allows me to immerse my students in information that I believe is important. It allows us to discuss things that MEAN something and not just content.

Although blogging is another thing to grade it is more than that. It connects me to my students. It makes it more. And for those who are concerned about teaching writing — I want you to go the blog of CC and notice her post. She did this in a computer science class! If you want writing across the curriculum, blogging is a great way to do it!

Again, we use blogs for opinion and wikis for fact in my structure. I'm sure as I go through each post and comment (I comment on every blog post) that more cream will rise to the surface from these exceptional children!

What have you blogged about with your students that has changed your life?

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Terry October 13, 2006 - 5:04 am

I think what is great about these students’ responses is their emphasis on enjoyment. CC’s response: I would very much encourage this. When I went to uni I knew someone who did her first degree in Eqyptology, because she was interested in it. She spent 3 years with 5 other students being taught by one the world’s foremost authority on the subject at that time. When I asked her how this would help her get a job, she said she was going to follow it up with a Master’s degree in Business Administration, a year long course. Of the two of us, I think she was the more sensible.

Julie Lindsay October 13, 2006 - 5:16 am

I am also discussing The World is Flat with my senior IT class. I have some recources on our wiki page at
This is part of our globalization and cultural diversity topic. The streamed video from MIT is useful as Friedman gives a good overview of his position.
It would be great if we could interact with your students! Would you be willing/have the time to participate in an online debate or discussion? My students are Bangladeshi and Indian nationals and have a perspective from the ‘other side of the flat world’ ;-)
Have a look at our class blog as well at
for recent activity etc and an overview of the online debate from last year with a school in Melbourne, Australia.

Karyn Romeis October 13, 2006 - 5:02 pm

As a third worlder, I have problems with the idea of a flat world. Have a look at my post, here:

Of course, I don’t know which extract you gave your class, and the contents of their responses would seem to indicate that the focus was on the classroom, rather than the world. So perhaps my response is off-topic.

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