Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization
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At a time when globalization and technology are dramatically altering the world we live in, is education reform in the United States headed down the right path? Are schools emphasizing the knowledge and skills that students need in a global society--or are they actually undermining their strengths by overemphasizing high-stakes testing and standardization? Are education systems in China and other countries really as superior as some people claim.
These and other questions are at the heart of author Yong Zhao s thoughtful and informative book. Born and raised in China and now a distinguished professor at Michigan State University, Zhao bases many of his observations on firsthand experience as a student in China and as a parent of children attending school in the United States. His unique perspective leads him to conclude that American education is at a crossroads and we need to change course to maintain leadership in a rapidly changing world. To make his case, Zhao explains what's right with American education; why much of the criticism of schools in the United States has been misleading and misinformed; why China and other nations in Asia are actually reforming their systems to be more like their American counterparts; how globalization and the death of distance are affecting jobs and everyday life; and how the virtual world is transforming the economic and social landscape in ways far more profound than many people realize. Educators, policymakers, parents, and others interested in preparing students to be productive global citizens will gain a clear understanding of what kinds of knowledge and skills constitute digital competence and global competence, and what schools can--and must--do to meet the challenges and opportunities brought about by globalization and technology.
students thus can try out different options and decide what they would like to pursue much later than students in some other countries. We all know that we are not really certain about what we want to do or what we are good at until we have experienced it; this is especially true when we are young. We know plenty of people who change their interests and their careers during their lifetime. Schools thus should be the place for us to experience and experiment with different options in life and
through decentralizing educational administration, enhancing local autonomy, and enabling independent self-management at the school level (Iwao, 2000). Divergent Paths Clearly our Asian counterparts have taken a very different—in fact, opposite—approach in their education reform efforts. While the United States is moving toward more standardization and centralization, the Asian countries are working hard to allow more flexibility and autonomy at the local level. While the United States is
Chinese) has every element of the keju except for the content. The gaokao is as powerful as the keju was in determining the course of an individual’s life. Although, unlike the keju, the gaokao does not directly select government officials based on the result, a college degree is required for virtually all government positions. According to China’s minister of personnel, 99 percent of government personnel recruited since 2003 hold at least a bachelor’s degree, 53 percent have a master’s degree,
Traditional stores such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, or Barnes & Noble have to consider carefully what items to put on the shelf based on their potential appeal to local customers. Movie theaters, radio stations, and video rental stores also have to play to their local customer base. These businesses count on “hits”—items that appeal to a large group of local customers. As a result, only a limited number of products make it to the market. But online stores like Amazon, NetFlix, and Rhapsody do not have
skills and a curriculum that enables individuals to pursue their strengths. Educator Jenifer Fox’s book Your Child’s Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them (2008) provides an excellent answer to the question of what knowledge is of most worth. It is what the children are interested in and good at. It is their strengths. It is not a government mandate or what is being tested. And here is an account of a personal experience that illustrates the value of unique talents. Taking Jobs Away