National Standards are the Wrong Bet: Interview with Professor Yong Zhao

Yong Zhao
Yong Zhao books

Yong Zhao is a Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas. He is also a professorial fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy, Victoria University in Australia. He previously served as the Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon, where he was also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership. Visit his site at: zhaolearning.com.

Terrance Jackson: You begin your book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, writing about Suhas Gopinath, an entrepreneur who started a company at the age of 14. Why is this an important story about education?
Yong Zhao: It is important for three reasons. First, it says that young children, regardless of their background, can become great individuals with a global impact, thus education should focus on helping children achieve that potential. Second, it tells us current education is not helping young people like Suhas to become great individuals, as Suhas became what he became outside school or by not attending school. Third, Suhas represents what we need in the future–entrepreneurially-minded individuals who create jobs instead of employment-minded individuals who keep looking for jobs that may not exist.

TJ: In an 1995 interview, Steve Jobs said:
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
Would you like to comment on this quote?
YZ: Love this quote. I always believe that each and every child has the potential to be great. They do not walk into a life created by others, they are the creators of their own life. This is the point that I elaborate in my upcoming book Teach for Greatness.

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