Daytime: Dr.Yong Zhao’s Views On Creativity & Entrepreneurship #iste12

Good Afternoon Friends,

After an extended stay in San Diego and a brief vacation down the Jersey shore, I’m back to SCH to resume work duties.  Leaving the perfect weather, great restaurants, and overall laid back lifestyle of the West coast to return to 100 degree weather in smog filled Philadelphia was an easy transition for me……….cough cough, sarcasm….Relaxing on the beach during the recent heat wave did make the SD to Phila. journey slightly easier.  But now it’s back to business, and honestly I have to say I’m excited for what’s to come the rest of the summer at SCH.  I will continue to develop several workshops for the SCH Summer CEL Sandbox #schsandbox.  Next week Betty Ann Fish and I will co-facilitate a workshop where we will discuss creative usage of Evernote in the classroom, personal productivity, digital portfolios, add-ons, and more.  Additional workshops that BA and I will co-facilitate include: the iPad Institute (7/25), iBook Creation with iBooks Author (8/1), and iPad App Search & Evaluation (8/7).  I’ll also team up with Stephanie Moore for Project-Based Learning with iPads (8/16) and Jenn Vermillion for a Game-Based Learning Institute (8/23).  So while visions of sandy beaches and waves crashing on my feet escape me, I look forward to working with some amazing educators this summer.

Back to my #iste12 musings.  Day 2 of the conference kicked off with Dr. Yong Zhao’s keynote presentaion.  Zhao, the presidential chair and associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon, discussed how education systems in the United States are misleading our students.  A word that I’ve become familiar with in my experience in education, from grade school (which seems like a lifetime ago) up until my current role at SCH Academy is “assessment.”  Zhao, who focuses on global education practices, talked about how the traditional model for assessment that we are accustomed to in the US doesn’t acknowledge the diversity of talents or passions of our youth.

Until Zhao’s keynote, I was somewhat unfamiliar with the Common Core Standards Initiative.  I’ve worked in education for over a decade now, recently shifting my role from IT to the “educational” or “pedagogical” side of the school.  I have heard of the Common Core, but have never given it much thought.  A quote from Zhao that really hit home was “I would love common core standards if they weren’t common or core.”  To me, this sentence summed up the entire keynote; how can we, as educators reach the full potential of our students if we’re not leveraging their creative or entrepreneurial talents?  What is “common” or “core” about a student’s passion? Does a test score really reflect the intelligence of students?  I was brought up to believe that failure was not an option in any capacity, in school, sports, basically everything I was involved in.  To a certain extent, I still live by these rules.  However, what I’ve learned from my experience in education is that we need to liberate both our students and ourselves from the traditional model of education that I was subject to.  In the past I’ve thought of myself as a “right-brained” person that lacks creativity.  Now it pains me to hear a person say “I’m not creative enough to do that.”  What’s the reasoning behind a person to have such a thought process?  Maybe they were taught that way…hmmmmm.  Something to think about.

Zhao identifies key differences in the educational systems of the United States and China.  He compares a strictly regimented system with too much formality to a system that does not hesitate to promote creativity and entrepreneurship.  Zhao spoke to the correlation between PISA math scores and perceived entrepreneurial capability across the globe.  He even quoted former Governor Ed Rendell on the canceling of an Eagles game…I almost broke out an E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES chant, but figured this wasn’t’ the crowd for that.  I have to admit that I’ve grown tired of watching Rendell on Comcast Sportsnet and I don’t agree with his views on education.

“We’ve become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium. They would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.”–Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on the rescheduling of an NFL game, 2010

Below are a couple of graphics, one directly from Zhao’s presentation that shows the confidence level of students in their math scores in the US and in Singapore, the other illustrates the confidence of American students 🙂

Zhao, Yao “I usually do well in Math” 

Sipress, David “It may be wrong, but it’s how I feel.” 

I’ll end this post with a short video trailer for the book Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner that focuses on the importance of innovation for the future of America.  Enjoy!! 

7 responses to “Daytime: Dr.Yong Zhao’s Views On Creativity & Entrepreneurship #iste12

  1. Hi Vince,
    I read your blog with great interest, as I’d come across an article written by Dr. Zhao in a magazine about Reed College (where one of my daughters graduated). I’d love to talk more with you about the Common Core Standards initiatives sometime. There are so many sides to the concepts. I’ve written a series of CC standards for iEARN, which was interesting since PBL is one of the critical components of their mission. I enjoyed the slides from Dr. Zhao’s presentation, too….a great deal to think about and so much to learn! Thank you for sharing this. Mary

  2. This keynote was my favorite of the conference. I am so glad you are sharing your thoughts on it with everyone. Looking forward to our session. Our session which, I suppose, we need to plan virtually to a certain extent since I will be in Barcelona until 8/5!!!!!

  3. Hey Steph, I was impressed with Zhao as well. His keynote was certainly one of the highlights of the conference…and what a great speaker! How long are you in Spain? I have a few other workshops to prepare for before I can begin on the iPad/PBL workshop, but think we can do a lot of it virtually if you’re away until then. I’m going to see if the book is available on audacity, I have a few books in my queue (that I was supposed to “read” (actually listen to) in the beginning of the summer….but that plan has been pushed back obviously…..mid July already??? UGH, we’ll be wearing our snow jackets before we know it!!!!

    BTW, thanks for being a loyal “Daytimer”!!!!!!

  4. I really like that Zhao emphasized that, in his slides, the education crisis isn’t real and that American colleges and universities are the best in the world. It seems like there was a lot to like about this. As always, I wonder where history fits into his schema. As with much of this stuff, calls for passion-based education seem to, in the end,fall into the “myth of the happy worker” (that everybody should be happy in their jobs and all work should be productive and fulfilling). An emphasis on end product (with a not so hidden understanding on product as commodity), leaves little space for process oriented disciplines that are better at raising questions than answering them. In other words, when the end product of a discipline is the ability to ask a good question (I almost wrote “the right question” but that would miss the point – there are many right questions) rather than provide “the right answer” where does it fit in this schema?

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