“Reach for Greatness: Personalizable Education for All

This new book by Young Zhao just caught my attention. I have had the pleasure of listening to a keynote by Young Zhao and I have read his book “Never send a human to do a machine’s job”.  In that book I particularly like this quote:

What content am I teaching with such technology? What are the affordances of the technology tool? Are there any drawbacks of the technology? What are the particular learning needs of my student(s)? How am I going to use this technology in my teaching (e.g., teacher use vs. student use; whole-class setting vs. smallgroup work or individual work; whether to share with people outside the class)? How may the use of this technology provide a better learning opportunity for students? Why?

This is what I wrote after the Keynote at ISTE with Young Zhao in 2012.

The next keynote I attended was with Yong Zhao. I didn’t know anything about him before the keynote, and I was very impressed. Dr. Yong Zhao is an internationally known scholar, author, and speaker. His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He has designed schools that cultivate global competence, developed computer games for language learning, and founded research and development institutions to explore innovative education models.The first thing I did after the keynote was to buy his book, “Catching up or leading the way“. Some quotes from the lecture: “American education is not in decline, it’s always been bad.” “American schools don’t teach creativity but they kill it less successfully.

Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Education, has authored “Reach for Greatness: Personalizable Education for All,” a book that advocates for ways to make students active partners in their own education, encouraged to flourish in their unique abilities. Source: The University of Kansas. 

Here are the takeaways from the new book:

“Education’s Big Lie” is that all students can “reach their full potential,” “be themselves” or “follow their hearts” to success. “With very few exceptions, schools generally do not ask what students are good at, interested in or passionate about. They do not allocate resources based on students’ talents or passions. Virtually all resources are allocated to implement the predetermined predefined curriculum, to meet the requirements of the government or other governing bodies,” Zhao writes.

Even worse, the educational system “actively suppresses individual talents and passions by defining what educational success means and convincing students, parents and the public to accept the definition,” he adds. By changing the role of teachers from someone who helps students memorize rote facts or meet standards to someone who identifies their strengths and encourages them, they can turn students into owners of their own learning and schools themselves into community-owned learning centers, Zhao argues. “We always tell students what they’re not good at and what they need to improve in. We need to show them that they can be great. In essence, everyone has a gap. But that should not be used to define someone’s future.”

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