(2012-08-28) Zhao World Class Learners

Yong Zhao, who has a history of saying the US is making a mistake in trying to emulate China school models, has a new World Class Learners book out - ISBN:1452203989 (Educating Kids)

Jonathan Martin gives a great summary/critique:

  • I am not suggesting Zhao, whom I’d like to count as a friend, speaks against academic excellence, but whether by design or inadvertently, his book allows too frequently the inference that he is not as concerned as I am about strong academic accomplishment.
  • All the above is really the prelude and launchpad for Zhao’s articulation of and advocacy for what he calls the ideal school, perhaps most succinctly summarized by Zhao this way: "A community of autonomous learners engaged in creating meaningful products located on a global campus is the image of a world class school following the new paradigm."
  • Myself, while drawing upon their ideals, I would have distanced my advocacy for student voice just a little bit more from the practices and policies of Summer Hill and Sudbury School Free School-s than does Zhao. They are inspirational ideals, but hardly workable models for broad-based implementation, I am afraid.
  • Zhao claims that there is a sharp divide between the PBL model of Buck Institute of Education (BIE) (with whom I’ve had some small affiliation in the past) and that of High Tech High. BIE’s is the more “academic” model, with the emphasis primarily upon the academic content and/or academic skills students will learn and master, and the final project/product being of secondary emphasis. High Tech High, to the contrary, “tends to value the artifact more than the content.”... Zhao favors the High Tech High side of the BIE/HTH divide, and then takes it a step further, calling for “the entrepreneurial model” of PBL. This is a model expressly about developing products and taking them to market: "the focus is on the product, not the project….I would like to call this model product-oriented learning to distinguish it from conventional PBL. Thus, the entrepreneurial model of PBL or Product Oriented Learning makes the creation and marketing of products the center of the learning experience." (Constructionism)

I Commented.

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