Zhao: U.S. schools focusing on the wrong skills

By Dennis Pierce, Editor in Chief, @eSN_Dennis
July 24th, 2013

In an age when routine jobs can be outsourced or automated, it is creativity that will create a thriving new middle class, Zhao argued.

What is the purpose of our education system? If it’s to produce skilled employees, then we’re on the right path with Common Core standards and assessments, says education researcher Yong Zhao. But Zhao argues that it’s time to rethink that purpose—and with it, our present course of action.

Instead of producing employees who are capable of following directions, U.S. schools should be concerned with producing entrepreneurs, Zhao told attendees of the 2013 Building Learning Communities (BLC) conference in Boston. And this requires an approach to education that is radically different from the one most schools are taking now.

In an entertaining and thought-provoking keynote speech, Zhao—who is associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon’s College of Education—compared the current U.S. education system to a “sausage maker”: taking a diverse group of students with individual talents and churning out workers with desired skills. But in the process, he said, creativity is being lost.

(Next page: The skills that U.S. schools should be nurturing among students)

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3 Responses to “Zhao: U.S. schools focusing on the wrong skills”

July 26, 2013

I agree with Dr. Zhao. We need to move away from pushing content and standardized testing and allow students to come up with their own problems to solve. Many teachers are now doing genius hours with their students and allowing them to explore on their own.

July 26, 2013

What Yong is saying make so much sense. School seem to be in a frenzy to interpret “content” as with the Common Core regimented step by step to show evidence to prove comprehension. These are very low level approaches and do not address the idea of being creative problem solvers. It takes a “real” atmosphere for students to do real problem solving – I think this is where the idea of the entrepreneur comes in. The skills will develop, but not without the authentic challenges – such as is found with project learning/global learning approaches.

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