Chapters 7-9: What Knowledge is of Most Worth in the Global and Digital Economy? Global and Digital Competence, and Catching Up or Keeping the Lead?
“…in the increasingly globalized world, what is needed is a diversity of talents rather than individuals with the same competencies” (p. 158). I feel this quote is reiterated throughout this book, as the “American” way. I also think that’s what makes America so competitive in the global economy.
“…the welfare of all human beings has become so interconnected and interdependent that no individual, organization, or nation can continue to live prosperously forever while their fellow villagers live in misery” (p. 167). I like the analogy that precedes this: “We are two grasshoppers tied to the same string. I cannot escape; neither can you” (p. 167). Like it or not, we are all bound by a flattening world where our human nature to care for one another cannot ignore others in need.
“The traditional strengths of American education—respect for individual talents and differences, a broad curriculum oriented to educating the whole child, and a decentralized system that embraces diversity—should be further expanded, not abandoned” (p. 182). We are leading the way with innovation, as Americans. In order to do that, we can’t afford to devote more time to standardized tests so we can compete on those competency-based measurements. Most people can become REALLY good at taking a test if they devote all their energy and time into that one test, but what good would that produce in the end?
If SBAC testing and other standardized tests are to continue to expand in order to uphold data-driven education, what will America become without the celebration of individual skills or traits?
If this book was written six years ago, in 2009, how can digital competencies still not be a priority for all the “digital natives” in our schools? Shouldn’t the subject of digital citizenship and literacy be a required course that complements all other content areas?
In addition to the concept of ability versus knowledge being emphasized by Yong Zhao, Dr. Wesch, Thomas Friedman, Daniel Pink, and hosts of other authors, I just watched AVID promote “game-based learning,” or a gamification-type idea, with their curriculum. The video showcased using tablets and Chromebooks in the classroom to enhance the critical thinking and collaboration skills. This gives me hope for true reform.
I like that the 21st century skills we have constantly reinforced throughout EDL 600 and 680 are also reiterated by Zhao (p. 145-148). Furthermore, in order for students to develop learning and innovation skills, they need to be afforded more time for exploring creativity and not so much on high-stakes exams.
After reading this book, I realize that the title deceived me. I first thought that America would be labeled as playing catch-up, rather than the leading model. But once I realized it’s all about perspective, my views changed. America is actually leading the way with celebrating individual talents and creativity, but is catching up with other countries with better standardized testing models. In the same respect, other countries are leading the way with standardized testing, but are catching up to America by the adopting new success criteria for college admission. Since the American model appears to lead to more innovation (as research shows that America possesses the most patents in the world), it would make sense that policymakers would integrate more projects-based learning and less high-stakes testing.
I now understand that personal learning networks, via technology, directly correlate to one major idea that Zhao suggests: personalized learning. When we empower our students to incorporate their own individual tacit knowledge into their online collectives, we focus more on their individual strengths rather than their “deficiencies” (p. 188).
Zhao, Y. (2009). Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.