World Class Learners

I have been inspired to write my next post after completing – World Class Learners by Yong Zhao. I recently heard Yong speak as part of an education series and his lecture left me wanting more. His views on education and how we must change what we do sit extremely comfortably with me and I agree wholeheartedly that we must take action.

Yong Zhao speaks about entrepreneurs and how employers of the world, now and in the future will be looking for school leavers who are creative and innovative. Are we allowing the floor become the ceiling? Are we setting standards that once met, there is no where to go? I have learnt over the last few years that students are capable of much more than we give them credit for. Why is it that students undertake amazing projects and produce inspiring creations, often outside of the traditional school day?

My students recently undertook a project that involved them recreating a scene from the First Fleet. With guidance and support from me, they worked on their creations at home. The work they produced was exceptional, we had large ships with many levels representing both the convicts and the captain whilst others created a scene of the arrival, from an indigenous perspective. Now don’t get me wrong – I know that they have help from family members, but deep down, I hope that they have created these pieces together, with deep discussion which leads to understanding. Perhaps we should be encouraging this collaborative family time where students are being creative and innovative at home, rather than watching the TV with no interaction?

I am making it my goal to incorporate more time for creativity in my practice as a teacher to ensure my students solve problems and think outside of the box.

My favourite reference in the book was that to sausages. When comparing the Chinese and American education systems, Yong spoke about the traditional sausage machine education in China. They aim to produce sausages – students which fit the mould and are all the same. America on the other hand follows a prescriptive teaching method which also produces sausages, but they also manage to produce bacon. Bacon was not intended but is a much appreciated by product.

The final point I want to raise is that of the student voice. Is it important that we give students a voice and allow them to contribute to the general running of the school. Much reference has been made to secondary schools but as a primary school teacher, I would like to consider the effect of student voice amongst younger students. I advocate strongly for our younger generation and feel that they have a lot to give.

More than anything, World Class Learners has given me a lot to think about and has inspired me to take action and consider how I can make a difference to the skills my students develop and embrace. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to educate creative and entrepreneurial students of the future.