Sunday, October 28, 2007

Constancy and Change

I think educational leaders should approach rapid change from the inner strength that comes from their "universal bones." For instance, those who think change should drive a new understanding of ethics or democracy should instead, let their understanding of ethics and democracy drive their approach to new technologies. I can think of no better example than the confrontation last year between Elliot Schrage, of Google, and a group of congressmen over his defense of Google's practice of helping the Chinese government to oppress its people. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/02/15/eveningnews/main1321785.shtml
Schrage is a "Corporate ethicist," a lawyer and consultant with a huge resume (and real achievements) on issues where human rights and global commerce meet. With a very agile mind, he attempts to defend Google's actions as working toward the greater good in a complex world. The congressmen had a simpler understanding, and typically expressed outrage at what Google was doing. They were informed not by the "new technological landscape," but by their own sense of democracy and right and wrong. I am saying they were on firmer ground, and Schrage, in this case, was wrong. No matter what the "greater good," it was wrong to participate in oppressing China's people, regardless of whether this was legal in China. I think as teachers we are stronger when we rely on an armature of truths about democracy, morality, human rights, etc., and I am not comfortable with the relativism so many pundits seem to be expressing. Rapid technological change is here, yes. It needs educational leaders with backbone and purpose!

5 comments:

Bettina Makley, aka Fairywebmother. said...

I agree...so...what now? Here we are on Blogger, which is closely connected to Google. Do we rebel? Do we boycott? Or, do we stay and just keep adding our honest words, as you have done, here? Perhaps you could suggest some other, peaceful options that an activist might consider?

Great blog.

Joe Makley said...

I think action is best chosen, each from her own gift. I believe this is a time when all people need to be awake, to stand up and be counted, to speak out when wrong is done, no matter if by the powerful. The gist of my post was that we alreay know right from wrong; we don't need to learn from the "new complexities;" we just need to apply our moral sense. (I am also uneasy with the term "bio-ethics." It makes it sound like we need a new kind of ethics. I'd rather simply practice ethical biology.) Thanks!

Bettina Makley, aka Fairywebmother. said...

"each from her own gift"

Excellent!

Bettina Makley, aka Fairywebmother. said...

This, unrelated article just made me feel a bit better about Google...just FYI.

http://www.livescience.com/environment/071128-ap-green-google.html

Rena said...

Good words.