Words of Wisdom from Thomas Friedman

In December, I was invited to attend a talk by Thomas Friedman, an internationally recognized author and speaker. He is a foreign affairs and environmental columnist for the New York Times who has authored seven New York Times bestsellers.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Admittedly, I did not know much about Friedman before attending the event. I purchased a copy of his book The World is Flat in 2017 after hearing it mentioned in conversation by multiple colleagues, but for all of the reasons that people purchase books and then forget them on an office bookshelf, I had not gotten around to reading it yet.

Despite my lack, I am so thankful to have attended. I walked in unsure of what to expect and walked out refreshed, motivated, and ready to be an “eye person.” I’ll explain below…

Takeaways

Here are a points that resonated with me from Friedman’s talk:

  • As the world reshapes, there is a serious need to understand each other as much as possible.
  • Mother Nature is our best source of advice. She has been a model of resilience for 3.8 billion years. Earth’s ability to adapt and redesign should serve as a model for teachers. How might we embody her habits and traits as teachers and learners in the classroom?
  • Before one can be a lifelong employee, they must first be a lifelong learner. 
  • Contrary to popular belief, the self-motivation divide will be the largest divide in the world, not the digital divide.
  • What can you do today that you couldn’t do before? 
  • “Always be in beta.” 
  • As the faster the world gets, everything old and slow matters more than ever. 
  • You can be either an eye person or a wall person. Eye people move with the storm and draw energy from it. They are able to remain dynamically stable and contribute to their community. On the other hand, wall people desire to stop change. They want to build a wall that keeps diversity and progress at bay. Which will you be?

As you can imagine, I went home, went straight to my bookshelf, dusted off Friedman’s book, and started reading.

If you have an hour of time to spare, I highly suggest checking out Friedman’s talk here:

Source: St. Vrain Valley Schools
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