When I made my annual appearance at the Elks lodge to honor the top 40 students in my district, I was glad they didn’t make the superintendent try to pronounce the names–more than half were from immigrant families. Most of the native born white kids were Mormon. The ceremony was an annual reminder of the importance of families and communities that value education.
Tom Friedman had a similar reaction to an award dinner this week and, after making the case for immigration, lays out the link between imagination, innovation, and education:
In today’s wired world, the most important economic competition is no longer between countries or companies. The most important economic competition is actually between you and your own imagination. Because what your kids imagine, they can now act on farther, faster, cheaper than ever before — as individuals. Today, just about everything is becoming a commodity, except imagination, except the ability to spark new ideas.
If I just have the spark of an idea now, I can get a designer in Taiwan to design it. I can get a factory in China to produce a prototype. I can get a factory in Vietnam to mass manufacture it. I can use Amazon.com to handle fulfillment. I can use freelancer.com to find someone to do my logo and manage by backroom. And I can do all this at incredibly low prices. The one thing that is not a commodity and never will be is that spark of an idea.
Friedman’s conclusion: “If we can just get a few things right — immigration, education standards, bandwidth, fiscal policy — maybe we’ll be O.K.”