I envision students from these schools as uniquely prepared to succeed if they were to trade schools,
move to new locales or need to adjust to sudden shifts. Indeed, all over the globe this scenario is playing
out because aspirational individuals are mastering their local and global information environments and
taking from it what they need, often regardless of affluence.
So, the importance of each of these populations becoming 'literate' in their own 'language' became
critically evident to me, as evident as the realization that while both populations—the American School
of Bombay and the public schools in rural Gujarat—might need two different types of schools, different
types of teachers, and two very different sets of knowledge, their skills or core literacies may be very
much the same. As would the public schools in Northern Europe differ from girls' schools in the Middle
East, and village schools in Sierra Leone…and on and on. 5
There is no debate: The diversity that exists along the continuum of the global information
environments requires a self-directed educational paradigm for each locale along the continuum. For
each has their own "needs to know," because they all have (and will continue to have for many decades
to come) different "needs to do."
All require schools who can provide students with the agency and opportunities to learn this one literacy
authentically to use knowledge powerfully.
Only an Insane Person Would Think This was Sane
The phrase Catch- 22 entered the English language from Joseph Heller’s novel of the same name. The
phrase refers to a type of unsolvable logic puzzle. Strictly speaking a Catch- 22 is a problematic situation
for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule. 6
In Heller’s novel this means: In order to be excused from military service, you have to be ruled insane.
But if you're trying hard to get out the army, clearly you're not insane; so, you can’t get out. The
narrator of Heller’s novel explores this logic puzzle by using the character Orr—and Orr’s desire not to
fly any more missions—as a vehicle to illustrate the Catch- 22. Here’s an excerpt:
“There was only one catch and that was Catch- 22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the
face of dangers, that were real and immediate, was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and
could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and
would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he
were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to
he was sane and had to.”
Other examples of a Catch-22s are:
Finding the light switch in a pitch-dark room that you have never been in before is a Catch- 22.
After all, you need light to find the switch.
To retrieve the keys you have locked in your car you need your keys.
Young kids looking for their first jobs need prior experience to get jobs.