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A "rising global army of freelancers." Are students equipped for this world?

CJ Westerberg, October 5, 2012 5:51 PM

freelancers.jpg


 ". . . he describes this rising global army of freelancers
the way he describes his own team:
'They all have Ph.D.'s.
They are poor, hungry and driven: P.H.D.' "
 
From Friedman's How Did the Robot End Up with My Job?":  

In the last decade, we have gone from a connected world (thanks to the end of the cold war, globalization and the Internet) to a hyperconnected world (thanks to those same forces expanding even faster). And it matters. The connected world was a challenge to blue-collar workers in the industrialized West. They had to compete with a bigger pool of cheap labor. The hyperconnected world is now a challenge to white-collar workers. They have to compete with a bigger pool of cheap geniuses - some of whom are people and some are now robots, microchips and software-guided machines. (snip)

It is also both a huge challenge and opportunity. It has never been harder to find a job and never been easier - for those prepared for this world - to invent a job or find a customer. Anyone with the spark of an idea can start a company overnight, using a credit card, while accessing brains, brawn and customers anywhere. . . (snip)

Matt Barrie, is the founder of freelancer.com, which today lists 2.8 million freelancers offering every service you can imagine. "The whole world is connecting up now at an incredibly rapid pace," says Barrie, and many of these people are coming to freelancer.com to offer their talents. Barrie says he describes this rising global army of freelancers the way he describes his own team: "They all have Ph.D.'s. They are poor, hungry and driven: P.H.D."  (snip)

Indeed, there is no "in" or "out" anymore. In the hyperconnected world, there is only "good" "better" and "best" and managers and entrepreneurs everywhere now have greater access than ever to the better and best people, robots and software everywhere. Obviously, this makes it more vital than ever that we have schools elevating and inspiring more of our young people into that better and best category, because even good might not cut it anymore and average is definitely over.
 

 In his book, Linchpin, author Seth Godin takes on the school system in the chapter, "Indoctrination: How We Got Here" (p.46), with these choice quotes:
 
The problem doesn't lie with the great teachers.   . . .
The problem lies with the system that punishes artists and rewards bureaucrats instead."

"Now we live in a world where all the joy and profit have been
squeezed out of following the rules.
Outsourcing and automation and the new marketing punish anyone
who is merely good, merely obedient, and merely reliable."

In today's NYTimes Room for Debate, "Are Top Students Getting Short Shrifted?" there is a discussion going on about tracking and whether it hurts "gifted" students.

How do we define "top students" in the context of what Friedman ("better and best") and
Godin are describing?  Gifted artists and entrepreneurs?  Somehow I doubt it.

Orig. Published 10/2011   


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