Global Trends Reveal Opportunity for Christian Education

In the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink (2009) writes about the impact of the three A’s (Abundance, Asia and Automation) on our current situation and future realities.

Pink’s notion that material wealth has left people desiring more in their lives is similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that says when basic needs are satisfied, people begin to look for more meaning in life. Abundance allows for people to seek beauty, significance and purpose. Our society celebrates acts of selfless care, living to make a difference and seeking your true self. One example is talk show host Oprah Winfrey who inspires and tells stories of people who are making a difference and people who are finding their true selves. Her message resonates with her audience because they want to experience more beauty in their lives. While there is controversy about her belief system, there is little doubt about her impact on our culture.

The rise of Asian economic influence is a new reality within the business sector. The idea that routine functions can be done for less helps to make profit. Another advantage to having these countries economies grow is that is raises their standard of living. For decades, countries with high percentages of poverty (China, India, Pakistan, Philippine’s) have relied upon international aid or charity to care for the poor – if they have cared at all. By creating access to better wages, these countries can provide opportunities for their people and raise the standards of education and economic security. The work ethic, determinism and the ability to see the opportunity makes these workers strong allies in global economics.

The opportunity for industrialized nations is to continue to innovate, invent, and create economic growth in new business development – or as Pink describes, “The Conceptual Age”. Another benefit of globalization is that it is now easier than ever to deliver products and services to new markets and new pockets of people that have never been able to purchase items due to poverty. By opening global markets, Americans can still flourish economically because there are simply more people who need them.    Localized services are still going to be in demand. Children need care providers, elderly people need lawn services, and houses will still need repairs etc. While the debate rages about globalization and creates fear about jobs, I believe that there are many reasons to be hopeful that the future may not be bleak as some futurists predict. While the Bible prophesies Christ’s return, the Bible also commands believers to hold unto hope and to not be afraid.

Automation is a tool to build efficiencies and profitability, but it is not a relational experience nor does not fit every business/education model. Automation allows for reports to be run and for processes to get smoother, but people still need to interact with the automated procedures to create the meaningful experience that customers expect. Recently, I needed to schedule an appointment. I chose to do it online because the telephone option had a 20-minute wait. The criteria for me is that if a computer can do it faster, let it.

When it comes to education, if a computer can replace a teacher – the teacher is not that good. A great teacher knows how to utilize automated technologies to interact with students. For quizzes, tests and tracking activity – it makes sense to automate because it allows a teacher to focus on higher level thinking activities, like discussions, to help develop learners. I firmly believe that technology is a tool; not a replacement for relational connections.

The hardest part of any tool is getting people to know what it is capable of. A piano is a great instrument on its own, but to experience its true majesty, it has to be in the hands of a talented musician who has taken the energy to learn how to make it work. The same is true of educators who are willing to continue to learn how to use new technological tools. Educators who practice and explore new possibilities will advance the learning experience to a true artistic, beautiful and meaningful level. This new reality should excite educators because it will allow them to experience a greater level of autonomy, mastery and significance through their work that is more engaging and fun to participate in.