World Class Learners Do More Than Bubble It In

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.


  1. lorin pritikin:

    I am very interested in exploring how US High Schools can fuse knowledge and social entrepreneurship. While creativity and thinking outside the box is what Americans do well, there is truth to the fact that they lack fundamental knowledge in cultural and geographical literacy which does not speak toward global citizenry, even if they are creative thinkers who produce many more patents. They need both. It is not an either/or–we cannot continue to disregard knowledge. I know that we provide access to more knowledge than any previous point in history. But access to knowledge is not the same as competency. Too often the “sage on stage” and assessing students with tests (scantron tests excluded) are touted as being regressive and using technology, project-based learning, passion and playfulness, and promoting entrepreneurship are touted as being progressive. I do not want them to be viewed by students as mutually exclusive.

    • Dennis:

      Very good point. But with the emphasis right now on test scores and efficiency we are not in much danger of going too far to the so called progressive end of the spectrum. rue that kids need background and foundations for knowledge. But they don’t just get laid one way

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