Yong Zhao: Education in the Age of Globalization

When I heard that Yong Zhao would be speaking at ASCD I was excited, having just read his interview in the latest issue of the Kappan. I had read his blog posts previously and was interested in his view of American Education as innovative.

I think, unfortunately, many American educators allow themselves to remain isolated within their own district, state, or region. Some even seldom go beyond the classroom walls for new information. Zhao’s perspective is dually Chinese and American, as a student who grew up in Sichuan Province and came to Chicago for his graduate education. His perspective offers something every educator should seek out: diversity.

I’m sure the term has different meaning for each of you reading this, but if there’s one thing I know cripples innovation, it’s isolation and the routine of sameness many of us experience day-in and day-out.  Zhao’s research is extensive in many areas, but one of the most interesting is in the use of gaming for learning. He helped to create a massively-multiplayer environment for students learning Mandarin; the concept alone is interesting, but his results are impressive.

His session reflects the work in his latest book, Catching Up or Leading the Way: Education in the Age of Globalization. The gist of his speech was that the American education system is not falling behind places like China and India, but rather is far ahead in terms of its ability to produce individuals. You can’t export the ability to innovate as easily as you can core knowledge like calculus.

China may be very good at turning out good test-takers, scientists, and mathematicians, but Zhao says there is a lack of thought there. The thing that American schools do well (at least before NCLB) is cultivate creativity.

You can see my tweets and others about Yong Zhao’s session by following the #ZHAO tag on Twitter

You can listen to some audio recorded when I approached Yong after his session:


I started recording the audio while an administrator from Indiana was asking his question about assessment policy. You’ll hear me start my question about a minute in.

I feel as though I have more to say on the subject (I haven’t even dug into my session notes!), but ASCD is so full of things I don’t want to miss. More to come…

5 thoughts on “Yong Zhao: Education in the Age of Globalization

  1. I am using Zhao’s book as one of the texts in a graduate class I am teaching (Issues, Laws, and Trends in Education) for Wilkes University in PA – the students have really enjoyed it and it has sparked great discussion – in fact his research has colored all of the topics the students have investigated. Great stuff! Necessary reading to have a broad perspective.

  2. Pingback: Yong Zhao: Education in the Age of Globalization | Hi, I’m Steve Moore « The Sharing Tree

  3. Glad to hear your input Tim, thank you! Coming across Zhao’s book was serendipitous for me because it has helped to guide and frame many of my own thoughts as a grad student in education leadership.

  4. Pingback: Are Creativity & Standards Opposed? | Hi, I'm Steve Moore

  5. Thank you for making the audio clip. I am definitely interested in reading his book and passing on his message.

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