Globalism and its implications on today’s children

Published 8:41 pm Saturday, October 4, 2008

A week ago, like many of you, I was sitting with my Saturday morning coffee and paper, dazed and in wonderment of the week that had brought our nation to its economic knees. At our Friday night football game the night before at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, it seemed even the weather gods were out to get us as the game was postponed with 7 minutes left in the first half. The game would have to be played the next day. Rats! I think we all needed the televisions and cell phones to be turned off for a couple of hours. We needed to be together and cheer in our gyms and on the fields where our children play and learn. And so here I am, on an overcast, grey, humid and sluggish Saturday morning wondering what will be their America, their world, when the games are over?

While the markets were in seizure last week, both my college counselors were out on the road. As many know, this Class of 2009 is part of a demographic bubble that finds in it one of the most competitive college placement years –larger classes, fewer spots in college. When it rains, it pours! And while I was watching our boys’ volleyball team win their first game of the season, one of our counselors, Elizabeth Stello, was sharing what she was seeing on the college landscape. We have read about it, things like the 2005 report that more Chinese students sat for the English version of the SAT than did all the students in the United States. Or that there were more Chinese honor students than all the students in the United States – or that Microsoft’s laboratory in China far outpaces all their labs worldwide! But yet, here we are in America, with students worldwide wanting to flock to our colleges.

Elizabeth reported that one state college admission office was lamenting the fact that with only a few spots allotted for international students, they were inundated with thousands of extraordinarily qualified Chinese students. Many were scoring perfect 1600s on their boards, and that on a test they took in their second language! Oh, and lest I forget this, they are willing to pay top dollar, or more, to find a place in our universities. And if this contraction of our monetary system continues, would not the colleges contemplate the fact that these international students would not only raise the educational bar, but also be willing to pay top dollar for it? If the markets implode and reform, why not our colleges and universities? So while some in our media outlets seem to relish the demise of America, there remains a disconnect from many of us, standing on the educational playing field and enjoying our precious present, preparing our children for a hopeful future.

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This race, in what we call globalism, let me report as a former American history teacher, is not new! It’s the pace that’s worrying some! At Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, we ask each other to expose our children to many things; we want them to prepare them for life-long learning in their tomorrow’s world – not ours! We want our first graders out in our outdoor classroom, up to their elbows in the biology of our wetlands. We want them dancing, singing and learning how to play an instrument. We want them engaged in a muscular education that reflects the rigor of our classrooms and the vigor of the playing fields. There really is little that is extra-curricular – because our curriculum is so all encompassing: Mind, Body, Spirit. This, for our community, is how we intend to move ahead.

And as I come to the end of this column, I decided to finish some writing in my office at NSA. I stopped by my favorite gas station, bought a cup coffee, and by the time I got to the school the sun was out and this Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day. I decided to take in some Pop Warner football games before the Saints took to the field to finish their interrupted night game. Here I was again, where families from other school communities join us on our campus every Saturday morning with other Suffolk families to watch their children at play. So when the games are over, we will go about our work and continue to prepare our children for a future rooted in the Jeffersonian spirit: “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”