On Friday evening I listened to Dr. Yong Zhao during a webinar hosted by the Save Our Schools March. Save Our Schools is an organization of educators who are looking to put the PUBLIC BACK INTO PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
A few things that I took away from the Friday night event included:
- Not all schools have the same strengths and weaknesses, so how could we possibly expect for them all to function the same. Just as any business, not all employees are the same. So why not focus on the strengths of the community (parents, industry, teachers, community members, and students) to make each school as strong as it can be by focusing on it's strengths and needs instead of focusing on making students robotic test takers. For example, the schools, students, and teachers in Detroit, MI do not have the same environment, values, or experiences, that the schools in Tower City, PA have so why would we expect the same exact results being produced from the children in these schools?
- Dr. Zhao brought a concept that I am involved with in my career as an academic to the forefront in a way that I have never thought of before....grant writing and funding. Government funding programs, currently, Race to the Top, are not programs of education reform that support the weakest performing schools in order to make them succeed, they reward good grant writing skills. Whoever has the best team and the most eloquent writers gets the money. So instead of providing for the children in need, they reward good grant writing.
- Zhao states that we need to prepare children to become entrepreneurs. Instead of preparing them to be able to find jobs; prepare them for creating jobs. The three traits of an entrepreneur that we can equip children with are: Confidence, Creativity, and Social Skills.
Confidence: I didn't catch the name of the study or studies he referenced, but he said that studies have been conducted that show adults who are successful are confident. It didn't matter how these adults performed in high schools on math and science tests, but instead they had the confidence to succeed; to push forward; to push for their ideas when people said they wouldn't work. Confidence is a better predictor of success than grades.
Creativity: Preparing students to be able to create instead of just copying ideas. Granted, most ideas are copied ideas just expanded or altered in some way, but we need to prepare kids to be able to think and re-think. Unfortunately, many of the programs geared to increasing creativity in children: Art, Music, Extra Curricular activities, are being disregarded in schools.
Social: In order for children to be successful they have to be able to communicate their ideas and connect and network with the right people to make their ideas come to life. We need to stop looking at other countries as competitors and embrace our place in the global market and see them as collaborators, partners, and potential customers.
Unfortunately, US Schools are willing to sacrifice these skills in order for students to pass tests.
Zhao claims that "a good teacher is an entrepreneur." They must be confident in their ability to teach and for students to learn, creative in the delivery of their instructional content through effective strategies, and socially prepared to transmit their instruction to their students and be willing to stand and be a voice for the education of their students.
- I'm curious as to how many of my teacher friends, after reading this post do the right thing and try to become involved with an organized group in order to make the necessary steps toward changes for the children they teach?