We at Dawson were fortunate to have author, speaker, and thinker Yong Zhao on campus this week to work with our faculty and also to speak with other educators, parents, and students in the community about the future of global education. Dr. Zhao advocates a paradigm shift away from the current focus on testing and a common set of narrow standards toward an education that fosters creativity, global perspectives, and greater personal responsibility for learning. Such a model would develop students’ strengths rather than correct perceived deficits in a set of skills that may no longer serves the global job market. In other words, he suggests that current and future economic realities require a change in our educational approach from one that has been training students to work for others to one that trains students to be job creators and entrepreneurs themselves.
How do we get there as a school, a school district, a state, a nation? According to Dr. Zhao, history shows that there generally is a lag between technological innovations and the educational response to those innovations. We are currently experiencing a pronounced lag time, creating tension between those who would redouble efforts to strengthen traditional skills through testing and common core and those who recognize the need to develop a new set of skills consistent with changes in global society. In short, we need to focus education on product-based learning, personalization, and entrepreneurship. These are the themes of his book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. None of these areas of focus is consistent with our current national focus on standardized testing and the... » read more