Sunday, March 29, 2009

Opening Keynote: Implications of Globalization for Education

Dr. Yong Zhao, Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University, delivered the opening keynote for the AdvancEd Conference. He began his talk by asking the question: What knowledge is of the most worth? The answer to this question is not so easy and evolves as the world around us changes. The main driver of these changes is what else - Technology! Technology redefines the talents we and our students need to possess. It divides people into those who can and those who can't and for the survival of education our curriculum must change in response to its constant evolution. The last major change to the American curriculum was the Industrial Revolution when what we taught shifted from a largely language based system (think Latin, Greek etc) to include Science and Math. For the last 150 years schools have served their local community's interests but as the world experiences "death to distance" schools must begin to address the demands of the global community. Check out some very interesting maps that demonstate the ways globalization have effected wealth, population and the global supply chain at

He also shared some of the hope that can be found in globalization. Just as Ebay turns one mans trash to another's treasure so does the need for local type talents in foreign lands. For example knowing how to speak English in China is highly valued. To survive in the world these days you need a whole different set of qualities - like those described in Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind. The ability to go global creates all kinds of opportunity - it is up to us to help our students see the possibilities. The future will not be about mass production anymore - it is about finding your individual niche. To do that students must be taught global and digital competencies and learning must be personalized.

1 comment:

dayle timmons said...

It seems like everything I see and read these days is sounding the alarm for education's need to change. I fear we will be the generation that didn't listen. I wonder if it will be the children (who are already deeply involved in the change) who will take up the call as educators continue to have blinders. What a difference we could make...