Yong Zhao argues in Catching Up or Leading the Way that more standardization, increased outcome-based accountability, and testing only a few subjects will not prepare American youth for success in an age of globalization.
Zhao does, however, recognize the strengths of American education, and thus puts forth a vision for American schools to promote creativity, talent diversity, plus global and digital competencies.
American schools should continue to lead the way, Zhao says, not play catch-up with other countries. Zhao, who grew up in China but currently lives in the USA, grew more perplexed as he watched his own children attend US schools that became increasingly focused on test scores.
His goal: Change the current US education discourse. Later, Zhao devotes a chapter to examples of globalization in occurrence right now and demonstrates why schools need to re-evaluate which skills are necessary for the 21st century.
Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization
Examples of globalization include fragmentation of production outsourcing, offshoring, job losses and free movement of peoples migration, cheap labor, national identity crisis , and such examples frame the challenges that face schools. In particular, the Technology chapter, which describes the virtual world as a new world and outlines parallel schoolroom challenges, resonated best with my graduate students taking a course called Assessment and Evaluation of English Language Learners where the book was required reading.
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In Technology, Zhao provides examples of virtual worlds in which people can interact, play, and conduct businesses—they can gold-farm, develop virtual property, play e-sports, Google, or update Facebook. He demonstrates how the rules of engagement, the indicators of danger and abuse, the tools used to participate and the consequences of our actions are different from those in the physical world. He questions whether our children are knowledgeable enough to fully participate in this virtual world.
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