Sir Ken Robinson on Changing Education Paradigms:
Featured Education Leader, Dr. Yong Zhao
An excerpt from the preface of Catching Up or Leading the Way:
“This book is about education in America but it began as a book about education in China. My original intention was to write about the mammoth challenges China faces in education to curb America’s surging enthusiasm for China’s education practices that seem to be an object of admiration, a model of excellence, or a source of competitive students who will threaten America’s future. I was going to write about China’s efforts to decentralize curriculum and textbooks, diversify assessment and testing, and encourage local autonomy and innovations in order to cultivate creativity and well-rounded talents. I was also going to write about China’s repeated failures and unwavering desire to undo the damages of testing and standardization. But while I was going through the reform policies, scholarly writings, and online discussion forums and blogs about education in China, I realized that what China wants is what America is eager to throw away – an education that respects individual talents, supports divergent thinking, tolerates deviation, and encourages creativity; a system in which the government does not dictate what students learn or how teachers teach; and culture that does not rank or judge the success of a school, a teacher, or a child based on only test scores in a few subjects determined by the government.
Having grown up in China, experienced the Chinese education system as both a student and teacher, and closely studied its history and recent reforms as a researcher, I understand the reasons behind its reforms. China is determined to transform from a labor-intensive, low-level manufacturing economy into an innovation-driven knowledge society. An innovation-driven society is driven by innovative people. Innovative people cannot come from schools that force students to memorize correct answers on standardized tests or reward students who excel at regurgitating dictated spoon-fed knowledge. Thus China decided to change its “test-oriented education” into “talent-oriented education.” To engineer this change, China made a conscious, global search for models–education systems that are good at producing innovative talents. As a country with the most Nobel laureates, most original patents, most scientific discoveries in the 20th century, and largest economy in the world, the United States of America seems a reasonable candidate.
In the meantime, the U.S. has been trying hard to implement what China has been trying to be rid of. An increasing number of states and the federal government have begun to dictate what students should learn, when they should learn it, and how their learning is measured through state-mandated curriculum standards, high school exit exams, and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). There are calls for even more centralization and standardization through national standards and national testing, as well as through rewarding or measuring schools and teachers based on test scores.
I find this trend in American education perplexing. If China, a developing country aspiring to move into an innovative society, has been working to emulate U.S. education, why does America want to abandon it? Furthermore, why does America want to adopt practices that China and many other countries have been so eager to give up? But most vexing is why Americans, who hold individual rights and liberty in the highest regard, would allow the government to dictate what their children should learn, when they should learn it, and how they are evaluated?”
Catching Up or Leading the Way; American Education in the Age of Globalization, ASCD, 2009. Available in your nearby bookstore
Race to Nowhere, film showing
December 2nd, 6:30 pm – 9 pm, panel to follow
4335 West 44th Ave.
Denver, CO 80212
Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 at the door: http://www.rtnorientalco.eventbrite.com.
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Douglas County Board Meeting – Voucher Proposal
December 7, 7pm
Location TBA check this website for updated location: http://eboard.dcsdk12.org/
As many of you know, I support local control. While still messy, it is the best way to direct the policies and practices that affect our lives and shape our communities. The DC school board elected to serve public school children will be voting on a voucher initiative that directs public dollars to private schools without public accountability. Please take this opportunity to call, write, or speak at the school board meeting. Too many of our neighborhood schools are closing. We must protect the public education trust and we must protect our children. You can help ensure that public dollars are spent in public schools with public oversight.
Governor-Elect Hickenlooper’s transition planning is already quickly under way, with regional transition meetings scheduled for around the state. The transition team is encouraging anyone who would like to have input to these meetings (and by extension, to the future of Colorado) to attend. These are not “chat” sessions, but are intended to address economic development and other related issues. Interested citizens are encouraged to bring a “white paper” to present their ideas for how to move the state forward. The papers will be forwarded to the appropriate planning team(s).
Please check the website for locations (www.partnersforcolorado.com)
If you cannot attend a meeting, you can submit your “white paper” to the transition website, or use it to volunteer — or even to apply for a job in the new administration.