I just read an excellent book on global education by Yong Zhao: Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization. It is worth the read.
Below are my notes (7 pages) on the book. I aim to put up a shorter synopsis soon.
Yong Zhao. Catching Up ot Leading the way: American Education in the Age of Globalization. ASCD, 2009.
Ch. 1: Recent Education Reform in the US
Ch. 2: From the missile gap to the learning gap: Myth, Fear and the Evolution of Accountability
Ch. 3: Why America Hasn’t Lost Yet: The Strengths of American Education.
“The fallacy seems obvious here. If American education has been at risk for more than 25 years—some say 40 years—and continues to deteriorate, and if education is said to determine a nations’ and its citizens’ success, how can we explain the fact that America continues to be competitive?”
Test scores do not predict a nation’s success
- “What really matters, or what really helped the United States maintain its lead, may lie somewhere else, such as in the overall philosophical approach to education, the aggregation of all the activities outside and inside school, and how teachers and students treat one another.”
His first example: talent shows. A talent show..s
- values individuals—“all that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded to the individual.” Einstein
- is inclusive and recognizes and values a broad range of talents.
- encourages initiative and responsibility
- helps all the children be proud of their strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses.
“American education” has traditionally created a culture that respects individual differences, endorses individual interests, and supports a groad range of talents.”
- “For individuals, extracurricular activities affirm the value of their existence, boost their self-esteem and sense of success, encourage them to pursue their own interests, and help justify and maintain their interests.”
Darwin: the more diverse a group, the more likely it can survive and adapt to environmental changes.
Professor Richard Florida: three factors drive creativity and economic growth: tolerance, technology and talent.
- Power such as Persia, Rome, Tang China, the Mongols, the Dutch, the British, and the USA were all extraordinarily tolerant, inclusive and pluralistic.
Diversity (from toleranace)
- Different talents complement each other
- Diversity breeds innovation and encourages innovators
- Talent diversity prepares societies for change. (EG/ shifting from manufacturing to information technology economies. JM-Henry Ford had a different skill set than Steven Jobs.
“Children Are Like Popcorn”: Second Chances.
“Children are like popcorn. They all pop, some sooner and some later, but in the end they all pop.” –A First Grade Teacher “The belief that every child can … learn, and can prosper is deeply ingrained in the mind of American teachers. As a result of this belief, American students are given many ‘second chances’ instead of being judged and sorted into different groups based on their performance at a very early stage.”
- The US has “contest mobility”. The race is always going on and people have many opportunities to participate.
- Likely to follow a decentralized education model.
- Delays selection until after high school. Late bloomers can succeed.
- There are a broad range of opportunities for individuals
- Thus, American workers are more concerned about personal interest (82%) than doing an important job (42%). Frost’s Two Tramps….
- The British have “sponsored mobility”. Potential members are identified for each social group early on according to perceived merits and qualifications. (Exams and tests lead to sorting and specific “appropriate” forms of schooling and training.)
- Likely to follow centralized curriculum or standards.
“We thus face a choice of what we want: a diversity of talents, of individuals who are passionate, curious, self-confident, and risk taking; or a nation of excellent test takers, outstanding performers on math and reading tests.”
Asian gov’t reformers are trying to move toward the US model, and US gov’t reform is moving toward the Asian model!
Ch. 4 Why China Isn’t a Threat Yet: The Costs of High Scores
“Last year when I visited Qian Xuesen, he told me that one of the important reason that China has not fully developed is tha not one univerisyt has been able to follow amodel that can produce creative and innovative talents; none has its own unique innovations, and thus has not produced distinguished individuals.”
China has a long history of using test to select gov’t officials, the elite class—the keju.
- It evolved into a test that focused on Confucius classics and hence a disdain for physical labor, technology and natural sciences. ~China lost its innovative leadership after 1500.
The gaokao is as powerful as the keju in determining the course of an individual’s life. (The National College Entrance Exam)
- It produces high scores, but low ability
- The students who ranked in the top 10 of the elementary school were not as successful in life.
“To be creative is to be different. Creative people often have ideas, behaviours, beliefs, and lifestyles that deviate from the norm and tradition. How these people are treated by others has a defining effect on creativity and indeed on different social groups.”
- “Tolerance of deviation from tradition and the norm resulted in more creativity.”
- “Most American children do not view schooling as central to their lives. … Thus American children generally are less exposed to the creativity-killing machine—the school.”
- “Research suggests that American parents just do not care as much as their Asian counterparts about external measures for success.” They emphasize children’s individuality.
- “Researchers suggest that in order to nurture creativity, schools need to set aside physical space for long-term projects and research as well as adopt a generous field trip policy…..Creativity cannot be taught, but it can be stifled.”
Ch. 5 The Challenges, Part I: Globalization
The Death of Distance: “the interconnectedness and interdependency among human beings was stronger, more real than ever before. Physical distance had vanished.”
By 2000, regional conflicts remained but humans are exchanging goods and services rather than bullets and hostility. EU, NAFTA, WTO, etc.
Global supply chains, outsourcing, offshoring, etc
Free movement of goods (eg. China vs. Starbucks)
Free movement of people: migration, cheap labor, and national identity crises, new skills & ideas. “It is no coincidence that countries that welcome immigrants—such as Sweden, Ireland, America, and Britain—have better economic records than those who shun them.” (Economist,2008)
Challenges for Education
- Help our children compete in a global job market
- Help our children live, work, and interact with people from different cultures and countries. (cultural sensitivity and linguistic competence = “global competence”)
- Help our children “adopt a global view in their thinking and develop a sense of global citizenship.”
Ch. 6 The Challenges, Part II: Technology
Second Life and Anshe Chung’s success (over $1MM earned) illustrate “another transformation brought about by technology: the emergence of the virtual world.”
EG/ Second Life
- 2003>>2008 15 million users
- User to user transactions in June 2008 at about $29MM
- How is a virtual world different than fiction, movies, tv, only watching sports on tv, facebook? Jm
These are “massive multiplayer online role-playing games” MMORPG.
- 50 million players in 2008?
- 400,000+ gold farmers, mainly in China, Mexico, Russia and Romania. $500MM in annual revenue.
- An esports star makes $190k. 18MM S. Koreans play video games online. (A step up from words with friends) >> World Cyber Games, 2007: 700 players from 75 countries with prizes = $450K
Cyber Attacks and Cyber Terrorism—the next battlefield?
The Audience becomes the show
- Amateur YouTube goes viral and the makers get promotional contracts
Challenges for Education
“The virtual world is as real as the physical world, psychologically, economically, politically and socially. … Thus the virtual world can be viewed as a foreign culture we must interact with. … Businesses, governments, academics, and the media have all been working hard to interpret the implications and respond to the challenges of this new world. But the education sector has not.”
Schools treat new technologies as new tools without recognizing the transformation ICT has brought about.
“My first concern is whether our schools are teaching the skills and knowledge needed for our children to make a living in the virtual world”
- The virtual world will become a significant source of jobs very soon.
- Computer scientists and database admins, multi-media artists and animators, graphic designers
“Our Children, in spite of the ‘digital native’ label attached to them, are not necessarily knowledgeable enough to fully participate in the virtual world.”
Ch. 7 What Knowledge Is of Most Worth in the Global and Digital Economy?
“Useful knowledge changes as societies change.”
With a global job market, employers can theoretically find the talent they need anywhere
When distances disappear, people can benefit by offering what may be common in their own community but is of value to others. (our students can teach English, math to kids around the world.)
New eBusinesses are selling less of more (Amazon, NetFlix can sell “misses”) rather than more of less. Traditional stores rely on big hits in the store.
Compare the skills needed for a successful garage sale vs. the skills needed to successfully sell on eBay. eBay gives individual entrepreneurs direct access to customers. There are now “eBay certified consultants.”
21st Century Skills
- The book summarizes the skills articulated by Partnership for 21st C Skills, the European Union, Daniel Pink, etc. These are good summaries that I won’t repeat here.
- Zhao’s core assumptions:
- Skills and knowledge that are not available at a cheaper price in other countries or that cannot be rendered useless by machines.
- Creativity, interpreted as both ability and passionto make new thingks and adapt to new situations.
- New skills and knowledge are needed for the global world and virtual world. (what are they?)
- Cognitive skills such as problem solving and critical thinking are more important than memorization of knowledge.
- Emotional intelligence—the ability and capacity to understand and manage emotions of self and others
The answer: Your Child’s Strengths
“What knowledge is of most worth? First, they an be considered as skill and knowledge that all students should master. Second, they can be considered as a menu of skills and knowledge from which students can choose what to specialize in.”
“What is needed is a diversity of talents rather than individuals with the same competencies. …. This requires us to move away from not only adopting international standards but also national standards and testing. Each local community may have something special, something unique to offer on the global market. An international curriculum or national curriculum can only serve to destroy local traditions and strengths.”
- Seriously consider the death of distance in our programs.
- Cultivate new talents
- Tolerance for multiple perspectives, different talents, and a respect for diversity are the key to a brighter future for all.
Ch. 8 Global Competance and Digital Competence: The New Universal Knowledge and Skills
“US students are strong technically but shortchanged in cross-cultural experience and linguistically deprived.”
>>lost opportunities and revenues
Defining Global Competence
- The ability to communicate across linguistic and cultural boundaries. (death of distance)
- This requires direct interaction. Culture is learned in context.
- Global citizenship
- Globalization has generated more wealth but also uneven distribution
- Understand economics from a global perspective. The notion that developing countries are taking jobs from developed countries is inaccurate.
- Knowledge of global problems (see NAIS 20/20-jm)
Defining Digital Competence
“The trouble with all the available definitions is their failure to recognize the virtual world as something different from the physical world.”
To live in the virtual world we take on 3 roles: consumers, citizens and community leaders.
Knowledge of the nature of the virtual world:
- The ability to tell fantasy from reality
- Understand that all technology can break
- Virtual activities are fundamentally psychological
- Understand data management and how different media work together
- The virtual world is a global network of individual and collective participants
- It is constantly evolving and expanding
- Appreciate: complexity and uncertainty, new ways to communicate and share
- Be able to create products for the virtual world with different tools
- Be able to create, manage, and lead online communities and businesses.
“Our students and schools are much better equipped with the facilities, devices and infrastructure to help our students develop digital competence than those in the developing countries.”
Ch. 9 Catching Up or Keeping the Lead: The Future of American Education
“The problem [with globalization] is that economic globalization has outpaced the globalization of politics and mindsets.” -Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist
“We need more diverse talents rather than standardized laborers, more creative individuals rather than homogenized test takers….. To meet the challenges of the new era, American education needs to be more American, instead of more like the education in other countries.”
“A more just and useful way to judge the quality of schools is to assess the quality of input and hold schools accountable for providing the best educational environment for all students.”
- Physical environment: Does the school proved a safe, clean, and inspiring physical environment”
- Facilities: Does the school provide adequate facilities to support learning and development of diverse talents?
- Teachers: Does the school have a staff that is highly qualified and motivated to help students learn?
- Curriculum: Does the school implement a broad and rigorous curriculum relevant to all students?
- Leadership: Does the school have strong leadership that inspires teachers and students to achieve their best?
- Innovation: Does the school encourage and support teacher innovation?
- Opportunities to be different: Does the school make arrangements to enable students who have different talents to pursue them?
Schools should be organized around the learning needs of students. Involve students in making educational decisions.
View schools as global enterprises. Although locally funded and controlled, their students will enter a global market and face global issues. (Think globally, act locally)
Global enterprises look for resources, natural and human, globally.
Schools should consider themselves as resources and assets to other schools.
(Find partnerships. Popinchalk)
Check out the Asia Society: Going Global: Preparing Our Students for an Interconnected World (2008)
Finding globally minded and competent teachers is crucial.
An important tool for students to develop: to be creative in art and music, to develop social skills in virtual worlds. Actively create technology-using experiences for students, under the supervision of teachers, for productive purposes. Digital products are valuable and authentic indicators of student learning…that can be used by others.