I recently attended an AVID conference in San Diego, and the idea of game-based learning, digital literacy, flattening education systems and globalized economies is beginning to reshape the current educational paradigm. Yong Zhao's arguments and examples throughout this book reaffirm the need for preparing our students with diverse strategies, which MUST extend beyond the classroom. The tacit learning experiences and backgrounds of each student--which include their personal passions--must be infused into their curricula, in addition to a balance of vocational experiences.
Too many policymakers in education focus on the measurable outcomes of learning, which is valid with so much money being invested into the system; however, this idea of focusing on measurable "thinking" presents real dangers of ignoring other important experiences, which may not be measured in the traditional sense (high-stakes tests, rubrics, etc.). Albert Einstein once said, "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." This resonates with me, personally, because although I have always been a good test taker, I value my experiences with nature and other personal interactions FAR more than I do my interactions with textbooks and knowledge-based education.
Lastly, I firmly believe that education will need to enforce digital literacy and citizenship and prepare students for virtual economies, not just physical occupations. Our world is constantly evolving, and since Zhao's book was written in 2009, more educational policy continues to be adopted and implemented to make our broken system "better," while billions of people are still without the ability to connect to the global network of information. Policy needs to include making schools 1:1 with technology, incorporating virtual Google Hangouts with other students and cultures, as well as reigniting the idea of "playing" to learn.
Every educator should read this book because 21st century skills revolve around being able to learn, unlearn and relearn. These skills include effective collaboration and leadership types, which utilize diverse talents and unique perspectives to push the envelope of innovation.
Zhao, Y. (2009). Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.