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My new book: World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students

25 May 2012 70,456 39 Comments

More about the book

I am very pleased to announce that Corwin Press will release my new book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students in association with the National Association of Elementary School Principal (NAESP) next month, June 2012. The book is about preparing global, creative, and entrepreneurial talents. It is my attempt to answer a number of pressing questions facing education today. These questions are exemplified by two new stories that have dominated the media recently, one around the Facebook IPO and the other the debt and jobs of college graduates.

100 billion, 900 million, and 28 are three numbers that quickly summarize the story of Facebook Inc.: a 28-year-old CEO who co-founded a company with 900 million users world-wide and is now valued at over 100 billion dollars. The 28-year-old CEO and Co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is worth nearly $20 billion dollars and one of the 30 wealthiest people on earth. He was named one of the 100 most influential people multiple times by the Time magazine. Along with Zuckerberg, Facebook has produced a few other young billionaires and created jobs for thousands of people.

1 trillion, 4.9 million, and 23,000 capture the essence three numbers for the latter story: over 1 trillion dollars in outstanding student loans, with an average of over $23,000, and 4.7 million who had gone or graduated from college are unemployed in the United States. “For the first time in history, the number of jobless workers age 25 and up who have attended some college now exceeds the ranks of those who settled for a high school diploma or less,” according to a story in The Investors’ Business Daily on May 17.

No question that Facebook stocks can go up and down, the company could be a bubble and even disappear after a while, just like many others, but at its current value, 10 Facebooks or 50 Zuckerbergs can wipe out all the college debts.  You may not like Facebook or its creator and you may question if Facebook is truly worth that much, but at this time, it sure would be nice to have a few more innovative entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg.

But how come we don’t have more Zuckerbergs? What led to the making of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook? What’s the difference between Zuckerberg, who dropped out of college but created jobs, and the many millions who finished college but are looking for jobs? Is Zuckerberg a nice accident, a lucky anomaly like Steve Jobs? What role did his schooling play in his success, if any? Did Zuckerberg become Zuckerberg because of or despite his schools? Can we design schools to cultivate creative and entrepreneurial talents like Zuckerberg? If so, what does it look like?

“College and career readiness” is the mantra in the global education reform circle. Uniform curriculum, common standards and assessments, globally benchmarked practices, data-driven instruction, and high-stakes testing-based accountability are touted as the path to edutopia. PISA, TIMSS, and other similar type of international tests are regarded as the gold standard of educational quality and indicators of a nation’s future prosperity. But at a time when college degrees do not guarantee gainful employment or a meaningful life, what is the point of preparing someone to be ready for college? At a time when most of the careers for our children are yet to be invented, how could we prepare them? At a time when seven billion human beings living in vastly different societies that are intricately connected, how could “all children be above average” or winners of the global competition in a narrowly defined game?

This book is the result of my attempts to answer these questions with data and evidence from a variety of sources. Essentially, I reached the following conclusions:

  1. The current education reform efforts that attempt to provide a common, homogenous, and standardized educational experience, e.g., the Common Core Standards Initiative in the U.S., are not only futile but also harmful to preparing our children for the future.
  2. Massive changes brought about by population growth, technology, and globalization not only demand but also create opportunities for “mass entrepreneurship” and thus require everyone to be globally minded, creative, and entrepreneurial. Entrepreneurship is no longer limited to starting or owning a business, but is expanded to social entrepreneurship, policy entrepreneurship, and intrapreneurship.
  3. Traditional schooling aims to prepare employees rather than creative entrepreneurs. As a result the more successful traditional schooling is (often measured by test scores in a few subjects), the more it stifles creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit.
  4. To cultivate creative and entrepreneurial talents is much more than adding an entrepreneurship course or program to the curriculum. It requires a paradigm shift—from employee-oriented education to entrepreneur-oriented education, from prescribing children’s education to supporting their learning, and from reducing human diversity to a few employable skills to enhancing individual talents.
  5. The elements of entrepreneur-oriented education have been proposed and practiced by various education leaders and institutions for a long time but they have largely remained on the fringe. What we need to do is to move them to the mainstream for all children.

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39 Comments »

  • World Class Learners Do More Than Bubble It In | The Compass Point said:

    [...] his blog Zhao writes that the book is the result of his efforts to answer these [...]

  • Inverness said:

    While I agree that the current ed reform movement is extremely harmful, I do feel that you tend to overstate the importance of Mark Zuckerberg types. The push to produce more entrepreneurs isn’t what’s essential. We need to create more thoughtful citizens, and I’m frankly wary when I read more worship about the corporate world and why we need to create more “creative” entrepreneurs.

    Students who have received a fine liberal arts education can question and challenge their leaders, and make voting decisions that promote democracy. Students who follow the news, with the ability to read between the lines, and not be swindled by pundits and politicians who have been well-trained by extremely well-funded think tanks to promote policies that are destroying the public sphere.

    Mark Zuckerbergs come and go; the thoughtful citizen is far more endangered and crucial than another Steve Jobs-Zuckerberg type, whose reach and control are troubling, to say the least. Come to think of it, isn’t Bill Gates (kind of a pre-cursor to Zuckerberg) one of the major voices in education reform? How much power do those men have to shape and control our schools? Seems to me, we need fewer Mark Zuckerbergs, and more enlightened citizens.

  • YongZhao said:

    Thanks. Very good point. I certainly agree that we need enlightened citizens who will take actions to fight for a cause–these are social entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are redefined in the book and there are different types: policy entrepreneurs, business entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and social entrepreneurs.

  • Kathleen Reilly said:

    Planning to read the new book as soon as it is available…pre-reading of excerpts points to a solid, carefully thought out point of view! The Middle School Principal’s Study Group of Tri-State Consortium has selected the book as its focus for the next academic year. KR

  • Readings for the IX International Seminar | UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Blog said:

    [...] World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students | Yong Zhao [...]

  • Vicki said:

    I agree that the skills required to be an entrepreneur are important, however their needs to be a core set of standards that will help our 21st centruy students develop those skills. In addition I feel that we do need a core of non-entreprenural citizens (such as teachers) to foster a society that is well informed, reflective, creative and anxious to ensure the perpetuation of a futre generation composed of responsible citizens. I look forward to reading about the different kinds of entrepreneurs that will contribute in a positive way to our society’s future.

  • Michael Dania said:

    where can i buy your book in Nigeria.

  • YongZhao said:

    Sorry, I don’t know about how to get it in Nigeria.

  • Cindi Chance said:

    Just heard a speaker last week from Finland. The education system there focused on equity (access to quality education for all children) with no notion of mandated quality. The result was not only equity but quality education for all children.

    This book promised to have us think out of the box…about a time in the US when we led the world in education. Interestingly enough during this time we valued education, taught children that success was directly tied to entrepreneurship and hard work (including study) and there were no mandated tests of children, teachers, teacher/leader candidates, etc. As a nation, we grew and prospered during this time. How did we lose that sprit? Can we reclaim it? How can those of us in teacher/leaders preparation in colleges and universities ensure that our graduates know how to teach/lead in new models and at the same time implement all the mandated policy measures associated with schools and schooling?

    I am excited about the new book and look forward to hearing YZ’s thoughts about new models of schools and schooling.

  • Doublethink: The Creativity-Testing Conflict : Education Press Releases said:

    [...] doing research for my book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, I found a significant [...]

  • Weekly Update: The Zone of Doublethink, are charter schools leading to more gang violence in Chicago? and a legislator in Mississippi asked the question “Who ARE these people?!” | Seattle Education said:

    [...] doing research for my book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, I found a significant [...]

  • Eva said:

    This is an excellent summary of at key problem. And yes, I agree with previous comments that the issue continues to return over time. However, instead of thinking of educating more entrepreneurs (ie. Zuckerman) I am more concerned with educating more students who are able to work in this technologically advanced environment. Why is it that we have skilled jobs unfilled today? How can we improve the competencies of students to work in this new, globally competitive world? As Young said, another set of standards to solve this problem is afoot and I am concerned with not repeating the past. This will be an exciting talk and I look forward to it.

  • Julie Wilkinson said:

    Yong, I missed out on a copy of your new book at the EMR Conference – they were in high demand. But I will pursue this as your work inspires me to continue the dialogue with my school community to support the creativity and curiosity in my students. Thank you for an amazing couple of days. In answer to your question, ‘How do we find out what we are not good at?’ I believe it’s by taking risks and making mistakes…. As educators we must foster this, particularly in a climate where conservative parents do not. Thank you.

  • Joanna Fletcher said:

    @Vicki – how interesting that you see teachers as non-entrepreneurial! My favourite teachers are those willing to try new ideas, open to feedback, and flexible enough to meet the current environment; these are entrepreneurial skills to me.

  • What is Creative Entrepreneurship? | said:

    [...]  My new book: World Class Learners: Educating Creative and …  [...]

  • Yong Zhao: “La educación estandarizada no solo es inútil sino perjudicial” | GIGANTES DE LA EDUCACIÓN said:

    [...] hace en su libro “World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students” (Corwin Press, 2012) –que podría traducirse como “Los estudiantes de la clase mundial: educar [...]

  • Yong Zhao: World Class Education: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students | UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Blog said:

    [...] is based on the massive amount of evidence from a variety of sources he gathered for his new book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students (Corwin, 2012) and his Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of [...]

  • Yong Zhao: World Class Education: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students | i don't look like a librarian! said:

    [...] is based on the massive amount of evidence from a variety of sources he gathered for his new book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students(Corwin, 2012) and his Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of [...]

  • YONG ZHAO: WORLD CLASS EDUCATION: EDUCATING CREATIVE AND ENTREPRENEURIAL STUDENTS : #LibTechNotes said:

    [...] is based on the massive amount of evidence from a variety of sources he gathered for his new book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students(Corwin, 2012) and his Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of [...]

  • Kid’s as innovators.. « Exploring Educational Technology said:

    [...] at OTC12 (Online Teaching Conference) in June, and was so inspired by the keynote speaker, Yong Zhao. He charted a new path for global learning, entrepreneurial teaching, and teaching to INDIVIDUALS, [...]

  • Learners as Entrepreneurs « User Generated Education said:

    [...] enabling and assisting learners in developing an entrepreneurial spirit.  Yong Zhao in his book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, proposes that learner entrepreneurship should be integrated into school curriculum due to the [...]

  • Traditional Schooling Prepares Employees « Be G.R.E.A.T. Academy said:

    [...] Zhao Learning website, May [...]

  • Jeanne Neverisky said:

    Book of similar research, profiling several entrepreneurs’ childhood and educaiton is Tony Wagner’s Creating Young Innovators http://www.tonywagner.com/resources/creating-innovators.
    He also put forward the idea that we need to “graduate all students Innovation-ready”. I see Yong Zhao’s work as parallel and similar, works together. I read Y.Z’s Catching Up or Leading the Way–very compelling.

  • Somewhere From Here » Blog Archive » Teaching and Learning for Entrepreneurial Spirit said:

    [...] response was so great I am just going to copy and paste it:  Yong Zhao (World Class Learners) says “Entrepreneurship is fundamentally about the desire to solve problems creatively.” He [...]

  • Heather Pancratz said:

    Just finished the book today. I liked it. Felt like there were two audiences for the book: Intro through chapter 6 was for policy-makers; Chapters 7, 8, and 9 were practical application for teacher-types; and chapter 10 was a good self-evaluation tool on what I’m doing as a teacher.

    I do like the first part of the book, but felt like you were “Preaching to the Choir” with me. I am resigned to continue to teach in public schools in the US and recognize that the current standardization is based on fear. I refuse to let the “standards” be my minimum and desire to reach my students’ desires for making a difference. So, the standards are our minimum.

    I appreciate the conversation about Project Based vs. Product Oriented Learning. I will try to share the application through my Twitter account. Today, I signed up for your Twitter. Maybe I’ll see you there.

  • Rosieglo said:

    Dear Dr Zhao,
    Please try harder to get your book to the person in Nigeria.
    It would be global minded, need a creative idea and an entrepreneurial push if you managed to do it.

  • Engaged Learning said:

    [...] should be cultivating a sense of enterprise in students. Yong Zhao in his brilliant new book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, points to the almost inverse correlation between perceived entrepreneurial capability and [...]

  • Zero Drafting: Falling in love again with a simple pleasure. Timed writing. | s/z said:

    [...] and Brown assert that “students learn best when they are able to follow their passion.” Yong Zhao says that giving students choice rather than prescribing their learning “helps preserve [...]

  • Modern Trends In Education: 50 Different Approaches To Learning | Teach Thought – The International Educator said:

    [...] to renowned educator Yong Zhoa, high-stakes testing creates more problems than provides answers and it doesn’t match success in [...]

  • Innovation Excellence | A World of Knowledge: 50 Different Views of Education said:

    [...] to renowned educator Yong Zhoa, high-stakes testing creates more problems than provides answers and it doesn’t match success in [...]

  • A World of Knowledge: 50 Different Views of Education said:

    [...] to renowned educator Yong Zhoa, high-stakes testing creates more problems than provides answers and it doesn’t match success in [...]

  • The Danger of Educating People Out of Their Creativity | B2B Sales & Marketing Knowledge Sharing said:

    [...] doing research for his new book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students Yong Zhao compared the results of the PISA Math scores and the GEM (Global Entrepreneurship [...]

  • The Danger of Educating People Out of Their Creativity « Sales-Channels.BlogNotions - Thoughts from Industry Experts said:

    [...] doing research for his new book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students Yong Zhao compared the results of the PISA Math scores and the GEM (Global Entrepreneurship [...]

  • A World of Knowledge: 50 Different Views of Education Cited From: http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/a-world-of-knowledge-50-different-views-of-education/#ixzz2toIYl7hs | MUFY Professional Learning said:

    [...] to renowned educator Yong Zhoa, high-stakes testing creates more problems than provides answers and it doesn’t match success in [...]

  • A World of Knowledge: 50 Different Views of Education | MUFY Professional Learning said:

    [...] to renowned educator Yong Zhoa, high-stakes testing creates more problems than provides answers and it doesn’t match success in [...]

  • Queenie said:

    Dr. Zhao is such an inspiring speaker. Can’t wait to see the Education Ministers take the initiative to embrace the creative Entrepreneurial concept in education. To encourage and develop thinkers.

    I am of the opinion that we need a curriculum for direction. Standards are essential – the key is not to limit the student to curriculum but in fact create an atmosphere to encourage thinkers who have the freedom of expression. Every student is allowed to modify or step up the curriculum to suit their talents and creativity. This puts a whole demand for creative teachers.

    We live in a world where mistakes are penalised by golden handshakes. Comes the next employee and the mistake is repeated with a different slant. We wonder why.

  • empathyeducates – The Education Paradigm – Raising Children to Return to Our Basements said:

    [...] (Read more about why the Common Core won’t result in out-of-basement readiness and what needs to be done in my book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students). [...]

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