Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: World Class Learners by Yong Zhao

Let me start by stating that this book pretty felt like the ideas were taken from my head and Yong Zhao just brought clarity and data to support the ideas.

This book is a must read!

As the American Education System works towards spending billions of dollars in creating a Common Core curriculum, other countries are trying to emulate what America schools once were. I am not stating that the school system we had was perfect, but it allowed students to pursue their interests and there is a reason that we have more creative awards, innovators, Novel Laureates, and patents than any other country. Forcing everyone to teach the same way is going to cause schools to eliminate those opportunities for students to explore their passions.

This book discusses what America is doing wrong and questions why we want to be like a China education system that can have students pass tests, but cannot innovate? China is striving to be us and vice versa. We are in a pivotal moment right now in education and this book shows what can be if we continue down this path.

It is imperative that teachers have freedom within their classroom. When a teacher can no longer teach a project because other teachers in the subject field don't want to and teachers cannot add their own flare to their subject, then students lose out. This mindset is settling in not only with policy makers, but communities as well.

Parents want more work. More homework, harder classes, more tests, etc. At what point do we say enough! A child should not have to attend school for 6-7 hours a day and then go home to hours of homework each night. It is very important for kids to have time to explore, play, sports, art, music, drama, etc. These avenues allow students to find out who they are and what they want to pursue.

Yong Zhao, the author of this book lays out what he thinks needs to happen to allow students to think like entrepreneurs and prepare for the world. The way things are going right now we are not allowing for this to happen.

This is a well written book. He supports all ideas with several facts, figures, and examples. Being a book review I won't go into all my thoughts and ideas with each section of this book, but I will tell you that this a necessary read for anyone involved in education and wondering what the future holds for us. If we don't start to rethink how we teach and how schools operate we are going to find ourselves falling behind. Creating a national curriculum driven by people who have not stepped foot in a classroom is not the answer. Teachers need to be willing to step up and take risks to challenge their students. As Rabindranath Tagore stated, "Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time."

It is time for teachers to change and adapt how we teach. It is time for administrators to step up to the challenge and change the system. And it is time for policy makers to get out of the way and quit acting like they know what they are talking about. If our students don't prepare to be a global citizen and learn to seek out problems and learn to solve them, then the future could be different from life today! Read this book and find out more about how we can change things to better prepare our students for their future.

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