Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Creative, Entrepreneurial, and Global: 21st Century Education (#MASCconf2015)

Educator and prolific author Yong Zhao delivered Friday’s keynote address. His work focuses on the implications of globalization and technology on education. His slides can be found at http://zhaolearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/WorldClass.pdf, and here are some highlights from his speech:

·      School boards are uniquely American but have lost power over the past 20 years.
·      It’s not how hard you work, but what you are working on. In the outcome of education, what matters?
·      Over time, we’ve been building “statues” that don’t accomplish things (ref: Easter Island).
·      “Catching up or leading the way?” Americans are seduced by the wrong measure as enticed by Singapore, China, and Korea (2008). If NCLB had been fully funded, there would have been more damage. All assumptions were based on the predication that American schools were bad and couldn’t compete, but there was no evidence to say American education was bad.
·      American education is not getting worse. It’s always been bad as measured by test scores. (If our education is so bad, why are we still here?)
·      So why is America still here?
·      The data would say that top scoring countries are the “chop stick” countries. “Spoon and fork” countries don’t do so well J
·      Asian countries have a lack of confidence. They score well but don’t want to read – they don’t have the interest.
·      Counting what Counts is Zhao’s new book, available in two weeks. A lot of numbers lie about education. The side effects of education are like those on a medication bottle – may cure _______ but can cause ______. What do you give up to get something?
·      What used to matter may not matter in the future. We think too linearly – tomorrow may be the past.
·      College and career readiness is considered “out of the basement readiness” yet college grads continue to have problems finding jobs in their field (employment or underemployment). They become boomerang children (i.e. coming home to live in your basement).
·      “Who’s afraid of the big bad dragon?” The Chinese were good at homogenous education, which was necessary because past jobs included assembly line jobs. They needed to squash creativity. We have employee-oriented education. Schools are employers – they measure kids. Kindergartners aren’t ready so we’ll fix it; we’re always looking at the deficits, looking to homogenize. Kindergarten readiness standards are like job interviews. We impose on children the content and skills we think will be valuable in the future because it was valuable in the past.
·      That’s not true anymore – robotics does those jobs now. We are in the second machine age. More jobs are being replaced (e.g. Turbotax, divorces are done on line, Google car with no driver). As such, we need fewer tax accountants, lawyers, human drivers, DMV, car insurance agents, traffic lights, etc.) Look at The World is Flat by Friedman.
·      The US spends more $ than most countries and MA more $ than most states. That money is wasted if other countries provide the same education for less $.
·      Two questions:
o   Are we prepping kids to do things machines can’t do?
o   Are we prepping kids to do things that can’t be outsourced?
·      Multiple intelligences – everyone is good at something/no one is good at everything = POTENTIAL. Nurture – can you trigger potential? You may be a genius, but you need teaching, coaching, mentoring. As a school are you allowing 10,000 hours on what helps kids? It doesn’t make sense to try to improve things we’ll never be good at.
·      Not everyone wants the same things. What is one’s motivator / object of desire (e.g. power? influence)? People are driven by different things and have different passions. Not all were valuable before.
·      Today there is hope. There is the creation of new jobs. (Rudolph’s nose was red and he was put in special education J. One Christmas Eve, Santa needed GPS and having non-blackness was a benefit.) Today, how will car interiors be re-invented for driverless cars - should they contain hot tubs – again J?
·      This is the age of abundance and leisure (psychological, intellectual, and emotional products). Most consumables are wants, not desires. Values have changed. Creating choice is important since a machine can manufacture a product (e.g. shampoo bottles are art, etc.)
·      The foggy Christmas Eve has arrived. Traditionally useless people are now useful.
·      New education jobs must enhance individual talents. Students now become disengaged – it’s the new paradigm. We must prepare students to create jobs, not take jobs, and support every strength. We need an entrepreneurial mindset and use our talents to serve others.
·      What is student autonomy? Personalized education. We need to hold standards accountable for mattering. Global technology is needed.
·      We must be “world class learners.”
·      We face the cliff of the middle class. Now entrepreneurs are in a global market. 2400 on the SAT is not useful – that’s existing structure.
·      Help students to become great in their own way – then they will not live in your basement.