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Video: No Child Left Behind and Global Competitiveness

7 August 2009 48,990 20 Comments

Ed Week Post about this video: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2009/08/michigan_scholar_questions_com.html

Will more standards, accountability, and higher test scores make American students more globally competitive? In the video, Yong Zhao retells his personal story and questions the wisdom of current US education policy. He argues that global competitiveness comes from a diversity of talents and recognition of individual passions and creativity. This is part of a film series produced by the Mobile Learning Institute’s called “A 21st Century Education”

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20 Comments »

  • Lorene Taylor said:

    Thank you for sharing your story Yong Zhao.
    You gave a great history lesson and helped to solve the problem of how to get us out an education system based on test scores.
    But more importantly, you showed a way out of the current system and show the perfect alternative.
    I agree with all you said 100%!

  • Linda Sexton said:

    Mr. Zhao,

    What a refreshing way of looking at the world, and education’s place in it! Will you please come to Oklahoma and convince our legislators that children and youth are not automatons? You have the same philosophy that I, a board of education member, have: If the gifted musician or painter has to master higher math, why does not the gifted mathematician have to become expert on the trumpet?

    After you change the attitudes of Oklahoma legislators, please go on the Washington D.C.!

  • Linda Sexton said:

    That was supposed to say ON to Washington D. C.

  • Tim Legore said:

    Thank you or saying what needed to be said. I will always be a fan of high school sports,but the music department is just as important. Everybody is not giong to be great chemist or mathemiticians, so why force them. you should not limit your scope to just math and science. Sooner or later the banker will need a mechanic to repair his car.

  • Dan Maas said:

    It would be interesting to see a blog post from Dr. Zhao about Thomas Friedman blaming education for the financial collapse: http://tinyurl.com/ygg2qbg

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  • Jesse Turner said:

    Thank you Dr. Zhao for sharing your thoughts on the standardization of American schools. It is indeed sad to think the nation that placed a man on the moon, and has led the world in creativity and innovation for over a century is ready to follow the rest rather than lead the world in Education. Our children are so much more than a test score.
    Sincerely,
    Jesse P. Turner
    Director of the Central Connecticut State University Literacy Center

  • Yvonne Siu-Runyan said:

    Yong Zhao, you make a lot of sense.

  • Matt Seely said:

    For an elementary principal trying to cope in the midst of our “dangerously irrelevant” system your observations are a breath of fresh air!! Our cultural fixation on the ‘hard’ subjects (and sports) and our governments obsession with standards and statistics are driving our education systems into the realm of ridiculousness and irrelevancy!

  • kathy Lewis said:

    Dr. Yong Zhao is totally on target! How can we get out leaders to comprehend his sane logic? Thank You Dr. Zhao for creating this video!

  • Michele Worden said:

    I think Dr. Zhao does not get it. I will not comment on how well No Child Left Behind has been implemented, because I suspect that is has not been done very well.

    I will say that what my background in engineering, science, business and art and design have taught me that “structure sets you free”. Education begins with tests, not ends there.

    Tests are important because everyone needs a minimum level of knowledge to be a functioning adult and good citizen. But a good basic foundation of academic knowledge does not prevent you from learning more on any topic that interests you, does not impose “reason” upon you, and doesn’t prevent you from charting your own course in life. However, illiteracy, ignorance of history, and inability to balance your checkbook does.

    I say this having worked for 11 years as a chemical engineer in capital projects and product development, 3 years as a management consultant in high tech product development, a lifetime as an artist in many mediums and a mother of two. I also credit my success to a Montessori education.

    People commonly say that an idea is bad when in reality the idea may be good but the implementation of an idea may be flawed. Creating processes and implementations that work is why good consultants make so much money.

  • Kaoru said:

    I believe Dr. Zhao would agree with you Michele when you say, “structure sets you free.” He says momentarily in the above clip that you can’t just let kids go completely free. Having gone to Montessori myself, I believe Montessori exemplifies what Dr. Zhao is advocating for. He talks about talent shows and project based learning which is very reminiscent of the Montessori method. Having gone to school in American as well as in Japan and Taiwan I think he’s coming from the Asian pedagogy where they bring testing to the extreme. One failed test can mean utter ruin for the life of a child. In Japan student suicide is extremely high and bullying is very severe. There’s been a movement where children lock themselves in their rooms in fear of going to school. The word “hikikomori” (the word to describe this withdrawal) is a term now used in the UK. The goal here is to find a balance. Teaching for the left brain as well as for the right. Yes, testing is important (I for sure don’t want my doctor to have gotten through med school without taking tests). But it shouldn’t be weighed as heavily as it does.

    P.S. As a filmmaker I live for that phrase- “structure sets you free.” Very important point! Wouldn’t know what I’d do without structure.

  • James Walker said:

    I am excited about working with Dr. Yong Zhou at the New Media Literacies Institute in Cambridge, MA. As a special ed teacher we live differentiated education, each student working to their potential. I just finished reading Distrupting Class and it will be interesting to talk with Yong Zhou about Clay Christensen’s ideas of online student centered education.

  • R.D. Nordgren said:

    I’m a great fan of Dr. Zhao. He understands the need for fostering “21st Century Skills” for economic AND citizenship development. I’m saddened by a knee-jerk reaction such as “[he] doesn’t get it.” Truly he does. Our policy makers don’t seem to understand the importance of deep understanding and high cognitive learning–and the unpredictable, real-world applications of this learning. Testing has value; I support it. What I don’t support is using it as a gatekeeper without other input. As an educator, I’m sickened that my own daughter’s high school in Florida is centered on learning for the test (and it’s an “A” school). I’m working with her to gain a deeper understanding of content and the connections to the real world. Her test-prep schooling is not doing this. Keep up the good work, Dr. Zhao! We have a lot of educating to do in our communities, state houses, and Washington DC.

  • Video: No Child Left Behind and Global Competitiveness | Kennewick School District Citizens said:

    [...] to communicate with parents and others who are interested in the arts and humanities and to share the attached video from Yong Zhao.  This is a very useful tool in convincing these folks of the importance of getting off the NCLB, [...]

  • Laura said:

    BRAVO Michele Worden! I agree with you!

    I saw Dr. Zhao yesterday and was deeply disturbed by his mixed messages and bashing of data.

    As an administrator, a teacher, and a parent I need “data” in many forms to make sure a student or my child is not “left behind”….making sure each child grasps basic standard skills is necessary to be successful in life. (In the video clip above, he even says, “There are certain things that all children should learn”…wouldn’t that be the Common Core expectancies?)These skills, I feel, will be the structure of the Common Core. The Common Core will help all students with the basic standards they will need to succeed. It will also hold schools accountable for teaching these skills.

    The key here is how they are implemented, which I agree, needs to be tweaked depending on where you are at and who you are working with. We/I understand all people learn in different ways…(thank you H. Gardner).

    In no way do I see schools or families wiping out all other areas of “non-standardized” education (arts, PE, talent shows, bake sales, music…). The utilization of Common Core and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is not going to turn the US into an extreme society with rigid educational standards that will rule every waking moment. It will, however, hold districts, schools, administrators, teachers, students, and parents accountable for what is or is not going on in classrooms nationwide. With this aligned, yet diverse set data points, we can start a conversation about what to do next based on the needs and strengths of each individual child.

    Rich data is needed to gain insight into how our children are learning…the highs and the lows. Every test in school is not a one shot summative assessment. Rich formative data is needed to help guide the learners along their path. Good educators will utilize the strengths of a struggling student to help them succeed. Anything less is neglect. Without rich data, everything becomes a guessing game.

    Data is very important Dr. Zhao, and it is the “Bean Counters” (as Dr. Zhao referred to yesterday), that help others to read the data and carefully navigate it, because data can be easily misread or misinterpreted. Yes, I agree that “data” has become a “new god” (as Dr. Zhao referred to yesterday), but with that power comes great responsibility to make sure you are presenting the whole picture, not a onetime snap shot.

    I’m sure you have heard that Las Vegas has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. While the US sits at 9.1%, we sit at 14.3%. But, what most people don’t hear is who is in that group of unemployed. Within the group of unemployed people aged 25 and above, 15.7% are unemployed without a high school diploma, 9.8% are unemployed with a high school diploma, 7.9% are unemployed with some college or an associate degree, and 4.6% are unemployed with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Hmmm….I think this makes a strong statement about education. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm

    In the video clips Dr. Zhao makes it sound like all the people sitting out in front of Home Depot just need a pep talk…”You don’t need an education with standards. Be creative! Go follow your passion!” Clearly, that is not the case. http://www.npr.org/2010/11/12/131274822/low-skilled-workers-struggle-for-jobs-in-las-vegas

    The Clark County School District has over 350 schools and over 309,000 students. Of the top 10 most populous school districts we are the only one to ever meet Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in the last 4 years, and we have made AYP 3 out of those 4 years. We have magnet schools, trade schools, International Baccalaureate schools, specialized academies, online schools and numerous other schools that let students showcase their passions, but standards are a consistent factor for accountability of basic skills and proficiency.

    Dr. Zhao, I had many questions for you yesterday, but you left the session early running out the door.

    Dr. Zhao, do you not see the lack of continuity and balance in the US when it comes to education? I don’t feel we are moving toward Chinese educational rigidity, but as a nation we need a balanced alignment. NCLB and the Common Core are helping to achieve that balance across the nation.

    Don’t throw data and testing out the window…seek a balance.

    In closing, Dr. Zhao, I guess I’m just saddened by what I heard you say yesterday. What you said about me and my colleges, “The Bean Counters.” And no, I don’t make anything near the $110,000 salary you said I did. We are the ones who look at all the data and help find both the successes and struggles of over 309,000 students here in Clark County. We are the ones that help identify standard skills a student will need to succeed in life amidst an economical down turn. We help to make sure “no child is left behind” so they can go on to pursue whatever their passions might be. We are the ones who arm the students with the ability to “Lead the Way”.

  • Barbara said:

    What a concept! Build education on the individual strengths and not what tha system thinks is important. Build value, confidence and individual passion on what someone is great at and love to do.

  • Raeanne Sisson said:

    Thank you for such an inspiring keynote at IETC. Loved all that you had to say. would love to get involved.

  • Haisen Zhang said:

    It’s an impressive video but a more impressive insight to innovative global education. Thanks, Dr. Zhao!

  • Steven Perez said:

    Unfortunately, Dr. Zhou’s comments are even more relevant now than before. What the above critics don’t get is that the way testing and standardized, centralized curricula are implemented is a result of the same mindset. That is, the means are determined by the ends. Any idealized view that testing is “important [to insure] a minimum level of knowledge,” or that it does “not prevent” students from learning topics that interest them, is as much a fantasy as saying “creating processes and implementations that work is why good consultants make so much money.” As a teacher who has had to deal with these poorly thought out policies, which are NOT supported by the data, I can assure you that when bureaucrats use standardized tests they will always become the be all and end all of education. These tests provide clear, simple, and numerically ordered data that is easy to point to. It doesn’t matter that almost every study has shown this data to be inaccurate and unreliable, both for students, and even more so when used to evaluate teachers.

    Just look at the way one of the critics justified this standardization of education in her school, by saying that the test scores had improved, not that the students were more self-motivated to learn. And, if only the test scores really matter, what will the administrators, teachers, and students spend their time on–topics that interest them? Now, this standardization and centralization of education is being promoted by technology, bringing in laptops programmed with the appropriate information and evaluation systems. THIS is how consultants make so much money, by pimping for wealthy corporations. Anyone who doesn’t understand that all this is happening, and is part of a plan to privatize schools as outlined by groups such as ALEC, doesn’t know the reality of what is going on everday in schools across this country.

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