Yong Zhao's World Class Learners : Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. explores the oft misunderstood comparisons drawn between U.S. education and Chinese education. In an effort to match the teaching practices abroad, Zhao argues that we have lost a key factor of educational success- allowing students creative flexibility and the ability to develop the entrepreneurial spirit.
Zhao is critical of Common Core and of related testing practices. He discusses the structure, or lack thereof, of high achieving schools. Zhao provides ample references to studies and visual displays of information throughout the text.
Zhao summarizes his book on his blog:
"100 billion, 900 million, and 28 are three numbers that quickly summarize the story of Facebook Inc.: a 28-year-old CEO who co-founded a company with 900 million users world-wide and is now valued at over 100 billion dollars. The 28-year-old CEO and Co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is worth nearly $20 billion dollars and one of the 30 wealthiest people on earth. He was named one of the 100 most influential people multiple times by the Time magazine. Along with Zuckerberg, Facebook has produced a few other young billionaires and created jobs for thousands of people.
1 trillion, 4.9 million, and 23,000 capture the essence three numbers for the latter story: over 1 trillion dollars in outstanding student loans, with an average of over $23,000, and 4.7 million who had gone or graduated from college are unemployed in the United States. “For the first time in history, the number of jobless workers age 25 and up who have attended some college now exceeds the ranks of those who settled for a high school diploma or less,” according to a story in The Investors’ Business Daily on May 17.
But how come we don’t have more Zuckerbergs? What led to the making of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook? What’s the difference between Zuckerberg, who dropped out of college but created jobs, and the many millions who finished college but are looking for jobs? Is Zuckerberg a nice accident, a lucky anomaly like Steve Jobs? What role did his schooling play in his success, if any? Did Zuckerberg become Zuckerberg because of or despite his schools? Can we design schools to cultivate creative and entrepreneurial talents like Zuckerberg? If so, what does it look like?
“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. But 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?"
We do not currently have a copy available at the high school, but it is available in Noble Net Libraries and at the Boston Public Library.
-Diana M. Kelly, Library Media Specialist.