I just finished this book by Yong Zhao, and all I can say is: deep. Zhao really makes a person think about the education system in the United States at the moment and where it is all headed.
He spends a great deal of time comparing the education system of the U.S. to that in China. However, this is not done with the typical doom and gloom outlook that China is going to overtake the world because of their stellar education. Rather, he shows that the U.S. has some good things going. Much of his research shows that China is trying, more and more, to emulate the education system of the U.S.
What Zhao does in this book is gives readers an interesting perspective on the way the world is changing due to globalization and shows that in order for education to work, the institution needs to reflect these changes. He feels that there are two areas that need a concentrated focus: teaching an awareness of a global community and teaching students how to use technology as a tool.
Global awareness is something that, up to this point, I have not thought a whole about. Sure, I watch the news, and I feel bad when something happens like the recent earthquake in Haiti. Until reading this book, I never thought about how events like that impact the entire world. This is definitely something that I am going to think more about. This will be the tricky one for me to infuse in my teaching.
As for the technology piece, I have been pretty much obsessed with this for the last several months. This is not to say that I haven’t learned anything from the book. I am now thinking of how I might use programs like Secondlife to teach in my classroom. I never realized exactly what was going on there. I even learned a new word: metaverse which is basically a fancy word for the space where virtual worlds are formed and lived in.
If anything, this book made me think of what I am doing personally in the classroom and gave me some ideas as to how I might change a few things to be more effective. If you want a good read that will make you think, pick up Catching up or leading the way.