Educating Entrepreneurs

While presenting at the ECIS Leadership conference in Berlin, I was fortunate to attend a keynote presentation by Yong Zhao,   an international scholar, author, and speaker with a  focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He is the author of Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization and World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students.  He currently serves as the Presidential Chair and Associate Dean for Global Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon.

Zhao challenged the audience of leaders from international schools to consider what it meant to educate young people in our schools. An opening thought he shared was that as a father of a college graduating son, children finishing college and not moving back home was a starting point to the answer.

53% of Recent College Grads Are Jobless or Underemployed (The Atlantic April 23, 2012)
These sentences from a January, 2013 posting on Zaho’s website, (Five Questions to Ask About the Common Core), capture this “preparing students” question.
“If all children are asked to master the same knowledge and skills, those whose time costs less will be much more competitive than those with higher costs. There are many poor and hungry people in the developing world willing to work for a fraction of what workers in developed countries need. Thus for those in developed countries such as the United States to be globally competitive, they must offer something qualitatively different, that is, something that cannot be obtained at a lower cost in developing countries. And that something is certainly not great test scores in a few subjects or the so-called basic skills, because those can be achieved in the developing countries.”

 

 Zaho used the following diagram to illustrate how our historic approach to standardization and testing prepared our students. He called it a sausage machine; shredding the elements of passion and creativity that today’s graduate’s need to create a job. He suggested that the USA continues to lead in “new discoveries” (patents)  because we haven’t been as successful with our sausage machine as have other developing countries…. but we keep trying.
Here is the diagram he shared for what we need to do to prepare our students…more focused on preparing entrepreneurs than employees. He defined the following as entrepreneurial qualities: confidence, friends, risk-taking, alertness to opportunity, passion, creativity, global competency, uniqueness, and empathy.
I think Yong Zhao has presented a great question for school leaders to be examining with their staffs.
 Are we working hard to improve our sausage machine or dismantling it?
You’ll find great resources for exploring this question with your team on his website. 
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Steve Barkley

For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. Read more…

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