Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Teaching about the Pacific Rim

Teaching about the Pacific Rim. This is an essay which explores ways that teachers can instruct American students about the Pacific Rim. This includes advice on teaching Pacific history.

From the site:

Emphasize the realities of social change. Jiro Tokuyama points out in the WHOLE PACIFIC CATALOG that, "History's biggest changes are generally hardest to perceive. The Egyptians in the ancient times were not aware of the emerging Phoenicians, who, engrossed in commerce and trade, paid little attention to the rise of the Greeks and Romans, who in turn were ignorant of the Portuguese and the Spanish on the Iberian Peninsula." Tokuyama continues: "The Spanish did not realize the potential power of Great Britain, which was not far-sighted enough to see the United States taking shape in the tobacco and cotton fields on the new continent. This lesson of history teaches us to open our eyes to the changes taking place right before us in the Pacific."

The study of ethics can provide clues to Asian cultures. Too often a discussion of the Pacific Rim revolves around economic issues rather than societal values. Frank Givney, President of the Pacific Basin Institute, argues that it is a mistake to cast the whole relationship in terms of business. For example, he urges us not to simply copy Japanese styles of management but to understand the Confucian and Buddhist cultures that have been the foundation of these skills. Comparing these values, and their relationship to the work force, provides an opportunity for American students to question their own patterns of behavior and examine societies that are organized quite differently.

Use studies of modernization and change in Pacific societies to provide insights into global change. Today there are historical as well as temporal time zones in the Pacific, with nations in various stages of technological development. According to Gibney, the hallmarks of the Pacific Basin that have evolved over the past 25 years are the transistor, semiconductors, television, and the jet aircraft. These changes have propelled some countries on a course of modernization and in some cases, Westernization, that few could have predicted. Studying these changes is especially critical for American students facing a future with high-level technology and fast-paced change.

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