Zhao Blog 3: The Entrepreneurship Gap

1. Zhao says, “China cannot have a Steve Jobs,” and he goes on to explain why. What drastic changes would China need to make in their educational system so that an entrepreneur like Steve Jobs could survive and start a company like Apple? Could the 826 Valencia program work in China? Explain.

The reason that China cannot produce an entrepreneur like Jobs is that the creative mentality needed for an individual like Jobs is missing in China. With the rote memorization and standardized testing that are well known characteristics of the Chinese educational system, the attributes that develop confidence and creativity necessary for entrepreneurial success fail to manifest. The accomplishments that lend to high testing scores in China are in fact the things that also lead to failure as entrepreneurs. China needs to make sweeping changes to their educational system in order to prepare its students for entrepreneurship. Chinese students need the liberty to explore personal interests as well as the opportunity to develop individual talents. Similarly, young students need the chance to be inquisitive, curious, interactive, and courageous enough to explore the avenue of learning in the following ways: asking questions, challenging ways of prior thinking, and developing new opinions about content. According to Zhao in an article reported in the Washington Post, the Chinese Ministry of Education has listed, with the intent of implementation, ten regulations that are meant to reduce the academic burden for primary students (Strauss, 2013).
1. Admissions to schools are transparent and not dependent on exam scores or previous achievements.
2. Student placement is balanced across classrooms and teachers; no classrooms heavily weighted with fast track or slow students.
3. Instruction for first graders must begin at zero proficiency.
4. No, or reduced homework for primary students.
5. Reduced testing/assessments for primary grades: no testing for grades 1-3 and semester assessments for grades 4 and up.
6. Replacement of the 100-point system for a categorical evaluation system.
7. The use of supplemental materials is reduced to one type along with the text book.
8. The utilization of extra lessons/classes for means of advancement is forbidden.
9. Schools are required to incorporate a minimum of one hour of physical exercise.
10. A blanket enforcement of the mentioned actions to ensure that student academic burden is lessened/reduced.

I don’t feel a program like Valencia 826 would work in China. The culture of China is deeply engrained in its people and they have been programmed to do what is required to further themselves as individuals, not assist others and help them to be successful. I think it would take a really long time for Chinese students to have the confidence to step out on faith, and without fear of repercussion, and pursue self interests and passions. The means by which Chinese students have been forced to conform would be hard to overcome. Also, without a nationwide mandate to enforce education reform, it would be difficult to have some abandon the age old ways to prepare for the gaokao and risk admission to university while others choose to continue preparation and then in fact secure the limited spots available. While 826 Valencia is a very cool concept and exhibiting success in the United States, I don’t feel it would be widely accepted in China.

REFERENCES

Little, A. (2014, September 24). Fixing the best schools in the world. Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-09-24/chinas-education-reform-push-extends-to-shanghais-top-schools

Strauss, V. (2013, October 30). China’s 10 new and surprising school reform rules. Washington Post. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/30/chinas-10-new-school-reform-rules-reduce-standardized-testing-homework/

2. Zhao says, “The US economy is three times as large as the second largest economy in the world, China which has four times the population…the United States is still viewed as the hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship…American education operates under the same paradigm as the Chinese education system.” So what are differences in the two countries’ school systems? Don’t forget to use sources other than Zhao to support your response.

According to Zhao, there are notable differences between the educational practices of the United States and China. Firstly, American students are not required to spend all of their time studying (learning) and are allowed more free time to pursue personal interests. This allows students the time explore and develop their own passions and interests. On the contrary, students in China spend anywhere from 10-12 hours per day receiving instruction and sometimes seek extra lessons to enhance learning and procure high test scores. Secondly, the education system of America possesses a lack of uniformity in a national curriculum allowing for more control of what educators are teaching at the local level. Chinese students have strict expectations regarding what and how they learn with little/no ability to stray from the content. When interviewed, Chinese college students attending Boston University claim that education in their homeland is equated with strict memorization while learning institutions in America are referred to as places of “studying” (Barlow, 2013). Western education has been stereotyped to be more liberal because students are allowed to combine presented ideas with their own opinions (Gee & Shao, 2012). Students in China must conform to a single set of skills and knowledge. Although Chinese students are expected to spend countless hours learning, they are allowed little “play time,” which gives American students the opportunity to develop independence and social relationships. The Chinese eduction system places an increased rigor on its students and emphasizes direct competition for achieving the highest on national assessments. The Chinese author of a blog writes, “Students become inanimate, they only know how to pass the exam (college entrance exam). It is the disadvantage of Chinese education” (Kazakhnomad, 2012). To the contrary, American education does not maintain this attitude of “high expectations” for its students, which preserves student confidence. Finally, unlike American students, the Chinese do not have the availability of extracurricular activities which could inspire life pursuits other than academia. While these events could be viewed as unwelcome distractions, these activities promote creativity and entrepreneurial characteristics.

REFERENCES

Barlow, R. (2013, May 22). Chinese students adjust to American education: When east meets west, differences abound. Boston University Today. Retrieved October 14, 2014, from: http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/chinese-students-adjust-to-american-education/

Gee, R. & Shao, O. (2012). Opinion: Educational differences between China and America. Retrieved October 15, 2015, from: http://www.shanghaiexpat.com/article/opinion-educational-differences-between-china-and-america-21977.html

Kazakhnomad. (2012, August 23). Kazakhnomad’s blog: A westerner’s view of Kazakhstan. Retrieved October, 15, 2014, from: http://kazakhnomad.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/differences-of-education-between-china-and-america

Blog 2: What is an Entrepreneur?

1. Discuss two points on which Robinson, Zhao, and Pink would agree about the entrepreneurial spirit and developing that disposition in youth.
Zhao and Robinson agree that in today’s society, there is a poor utilization of talent. In many occupations, employees are not encouraged or allowed to use their gifts and talents for the purpose of improving the process or product of their job (Zhao, 2012). Robinson claims that we are “in a crisis of human resources” (TED Talks, 2010). Our current methods prohibit employees from developing hidden talents or improving ones they currently use. Our current method of educating, which lacks an emphasis on entrepreneurial skills, produces ill-equipped youth for the current job market and is evidenced in an increased youth unemployment rate (Guo, 2013). We can readily document a decreased amount of creativity, limited skills which directly relate to problem solving, and a reduced self-confidence in students. Likewise, we have adults who lack entrepreneurial qualities. Similarly, Robinson and Pink feel that we need to discard the current model of education and create a new one; a model that incorporates agricultural thinking and promotes intrinsic rewards. As Pink reveals, science has shown that extrinsic rewards aren’t successful in producing the employee attributes or results employers are searching for (Arkell, 2012). Education needs to be customized to the student and encourage rewards based on self motivations. This will generate adults who will be passionate employees concerning their process and/or product. The models we give students now should develop the entrepreneurial spirit they will need later to be self-motivated adults. Entrepreneurship is not an attribute one is born with but one that is cultivated and nurtured; a process that takes a lifetime to develop and occurs in stages (Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, 2004). Likewise, the entrepreneurial spirit is not something that can be learned from a textbook or a curriculum. Entrepreneurial education involves real-world learning and applications. In order for the adults of tomorrow to be ready to assume or create new forms of employment, we need to begin equipping our youth of today with the tools and opportunities for entrepreneurial learning.

REFERENCES

Arkell, M. (Producer). (2012). Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation (Video file). Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esvaP9LehB4

Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education. (2004). Nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit. Retrieved October 10, 2014, from: http://www.entre-ed.org/Standards_Toolkit/nurturing.htm

Guo, J. (2013, August 14). Tackling youth unemployment through entrepreneurship: A call for innovative spirit, voices, and actions from global youth. Retrieved October 10, 2014, from: http://blogs.worldbank.org/youthink/tackling-youth-unemployment-through-entrepreneurship-call-innovative-spirit-voices-and-actions

TED2010. (2010, February). Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution. Retrieved from: http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution#t-47678

Zhao, Y. (2012). World class learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin

3. Zhao discussed many aspects of our changed world and the reason for such high unemployment rates all over the world, even among those with a college education. Research some changes in education over the last 25 years and discuss how they have affected the unemployment of many teachers and/or why many leave the profession.
Legislation is primary reason for the drastic changes in education. According to several sources, the No Child Left Behind legislation was flawed from its inception (Meador, 2014) and has placed unrealistic expectations on teachers as well as what they teach in the classroom. Likewise, the Common Core Standards have forced teachers to adjust what and how they teach content. The autonomy that teachers once boasted as an attribute for becoming a teacher no longer exists. Teachers no longer feel respected nor do they possess influence over content or instructional practices. The rigor that these laws present to new and established teachers has caused an air of frustration and dissatisfaction (Meador, 2014), such that many educators have left the teaching profession. Coupled with budget cuts at the federal and state levels, many districts are forced to cease funding for educational programs and salaries, forcing some educators to abandon their classrooms. The rates for teachers looking for employment outside of education is higher than those for nurses, lawyers, engineers, or architects. Education has always looked to standardized testing as a litmus of what and how much students are learning. However, the emphasis placed on current testing practices and their results has evolved into performance based evaluations for teachers. The jobs of many teachers have fallen victim to their students’ poor performance on standardized tests. Other reasons reported for teachers leaving their jobs include lack of support from administrators, school safety, tenure, lack of training and mentorships, stressful working environments of low-income schools, and student discipline challenges (Graziano, 2005).

REFERENCES

Graziano, C. (2005). Public education faces a crisis in teacher retention. Edutopia. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from: http://www.edutopia.org/new-teacher-burnout-retention

Meador, D. (2014). A Veteran educator’s view on changes in education. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from: http://teaching.about.com/od/pd/fl/A-Veteran-Educators-View-on-Changes-in-Education.htm

Neason, A. (2014, July 23). Half of teachers leave the job after five years. Here’s what to do about it. Huffington Post. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/23/teacher-turnover-rate_n_5614972.html

Provini, C. (2014). Why are teachers leaving the profession? Education World. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/why-are-teachers-leaving-profession.shtml

Zhao, Y. (2012). World class learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin

Blog 1: To Create is Human

Blog 1: To Create is Human

1. In his book World Class Learners, Zhao quotes a report that defines entrepreneurial mindset as a “critical mix of success-oriented attitudes of initiative, intelligent risk-taking, collaboration, and opportunity recognition”. This mindset stems from the spirit of creativity that so many feel is missing in education as well as student confidence. If the entrepreneurial mindset were used to develop, teach, and assess the curriculums we teach, we could help our students redefine themselves and likewise, change the trajectory of their future. The strategy of being college and/or career ready does not ensure our children a job on the other side of education. Our instruction needs to prepare students for careers that we haven’t even conceived to date. People will need to be well rounded and not just skilled in common core subjects. The purpose of education would be transformed. The debate rages that currently, we teach to test. Our homogenous curriculum restricts students from exercising creativity and therefore, problem solving. The standardization of education would likely be eliminated. While core subjects do hold importance, the exceptional classes for music, drama, technology, and art would require a higher precedence than what we currently possess. The cooperative environment that these subjects foster encourages learning as a group and not as a sole student. Instruction will have to meet students where they are and celebrate their specific abilities and empower those talents, which other students may not possess. The value of the student will then be established in the global arena. A great deal would have to change at my school. We have a very transient demographic with an 80 percent population receiving free or reduced lunch. Likewise, we are a Title 1 school. As educators, we need to be more receptive and willing to further differentiate the instruction. We should learn to harness the creativity of our diverse student body as well as teach the common core in creative ways. This would increase the interest level of the students and make the content more engaging. Despite the fact we teach common core, we are marginally proficient. We also need to do more to bridge the cultural gap in areas of language and interpretation of information. Many of our students are ESL/ELL. We need more staff to address the needs of these students and their families. Similarly, more resources need to be made available to assist these parents in student accountability for instruction and life away from school. We are in a new facility this year, having the greatest amount of technology available for teachers and students. We must not engross ourselves with the sparkle and glitz of new Smart Boards. We should not put the technology in the teachers’ hands for teaching, but in the hands of the students for learning.
3. When one stacks the Common Core Standards against an alternative learning environment such as The Tinkering School, it is quickly apparent that the concepts are quite varied. CCS was established due to questions about the continuity of content being taught across states. In contrast, The Tinkering School was founded in order to prosper children’s creativity and possibilities. CCS is based on growing research in relation to the skill sets students need to be college and career ready following high school. CCS sets out the expectations and standards for all and establishes benchmarks that place all students on an even playing field; all students will be able to compete with other students based on the same attributes. The assessments used to measure these benchmarks are designed with common core in mind. At The Tinkering School, assessments and benchmarks are abstract. Both the CCS and The Tinkering School direct the creative energies of students but in very different ways. With the CCS emphasis on reading and math, the creative disciplines are channeled back to these core subjects. This means that students do not develop the exceptional skills from these courses. At The Tinkering School, the projects are inspired with little more than a Sharpie marker and a stack of post it notes. Things are done on a big scale and each project encourages the campers to work cooperatively, but they are not assessed as a group. The Tinkering School also believes in no recipes and no stamped out instruction. Learning at The Tinkering School is described as ‘engaged learning that happens hands on’. The philosophy of “think, make, tinker” gives campers the freedom to fail, which is required in order to face adversity and then eventually succeed. CCS instruction is calculated and focused on specific targets. If end-of-grade assessments were administered to both a CCS school and The Tinkering School, I feel that students at the camp would fare better. Their philosophy of failing to succeed is something of old that helped us establish this country. For whatever reason and by whatever means, the adage of pulling one up by their bootstraps is nearly extinct. The strategies the students learn and employ during their stint at the camp would prove invaluable in other arenas of life, especially school instruction. I feel the innovative thinking and inspiration to succeed would far outweigh the short-lived applause received following KPrep. According to authoritarians, CCS is doomed to fail. Its premise is based on a theory with no evidence of success. I’m going to keep my vote with The Tinkering School.

WORKS CITED

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2014). What parents should know. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from: http://www.corestandards.org/what-parents-should-know/

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2014). Myths vs. facts. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/myths-vs-facts/

Strauss, V. (2014, January 18). Everything you need to know about Common Core-Ravitch. Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/