Looking forward to reading Yong Zhao’s new book due out soon: World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students
The focus is preparing global, creative, and entrepreneurial talents.
“College and career readiness” is the mantra in the global education reform circle. Uniform curriculum, common standards and assessments, globally benchmarked practices, data-driven instruction, and high-stakes testing-based accountability are touted as the path to edutopia. PISA, TIMSS, and other similar type of international tests are regarded as the gold standard of educational quality and indicators of a nation’s future prosperity.
On his blog Zhao writes that the book is the result of his efforts to answer these questions:
… at a time when college degrees do not guarantee gainful employment or a meaningful life, what is the point of preparing someone to be ready for college?
At a time when most of the careers for our children are yet to be invented, how could we prepare them?
At a time when seven billion human beings living in vastly different societies that are intricately connected, how could “all children be above average” or winners of the global competition in a narrowly defined game?
Among his conclusions is the conviction based on data and research that:
The current education reform efforts that attempt to provide a common, homogenous, and standardized educational experience, e.g., the Common Core Standards Initiative in the U.S., are not only futile but also harmful to preparing our children for the future.
Massive global economic and social shifts are challenges but also opportunity for those prepared to be globally minded, creative and entrepreneurial. In his view, traditional schooling prepares children to be employees rather than creative entrepreneurs. As a result its success is measured by standards and bubble tests. It reduces the extraordinary human diversity to a few employable skills. education should rather develop that cognitive diversity and focus on enhancing individual strengths and talents.
To cultivate creative and entrepreneurial talents is much more than adding an entrepreneurship course or program to the curriculum. It requires a paradigm shift—from employee-oriented education to entrepreneur-oriented education, from prescribing children’s education to supporting their learning, and from reducing human diversity to a few employable skills to enhancing individual talents.
The elements of entrepreneur-oriented education have been proposed and practiced by various education leaders and institutions for a long time but they have largely remained on the fringe. What we need to do is to move them to the mainstream for all children.