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MARCH/APRIL 2007 PHI DELTA KAPPA INTERNATIONAL Volume 2 Number 4 The Latest Information for the Education Practitioner LOOK INSIDE FOR Executive Summary Executive Summary The No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
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MARCH/APRIL 2007 PHI DELTA KAPPA INTERNATIONAL Volume 2 Number 4 The Latest Information for the Education Practitioner LOOK INSIDE FOR Executive Summary Executive Summary The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has failed to meet the nation s education needs. Schools face mounting pressures to narrow what children can learn in schools so that they can score better than their Chinese and Indian counterparts in math and science. Thanks to NCLB, schools increasingly are limiting what is taught and learned, and high-stakes state tests constrain how teaching and learning is conducted. Other elements of NCLB include centralization and standardization of curriculum, increased demand for teacher quality, more math and science, more school choice, and reduction of diversity and flexibility. The overall goal is better academic achievement of all students, measured by standardized tests of a limited number of subjects, through increased accountability of schools, administrators, teachers, and students. The impetus for this reform can be traced to two sources: concerns over equity and international competition. Unfortunately, the effects of these reforms are all undesirable: narrowing what students learn, teaching to tests, forcing teachers to cheat, and making schools find creative ways to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements. More troubling, NCLB distracts us from teaching what will truly enhance global competitiveness. Even if, somehow, these reform measures led to significantly increased test scores in math, reading, and science and wiped out achievement gaps, our children would not be better prepared for life in a more globalized and technological world. Instead, we are becoming obsessed with test scores in a limited number of subjects, which in essence is the adoption of a single criterion for judging the success of students, teachers, and schools. Once we adopt this single criterion, we will kill the most important and sought-after commodity in the 21st century creativity. As U.S. policies lead us away from creativity, other countries are attempting to add greater flexibility and creativity into their curricula. Contents Wrong Fixes...3 Audio EDge...4 How Not to Kill Creativity...5 About the Author...5 Multiple Intelligences and Global Education...7 Cold War Mindsets vs. the Globalized World...8 The Real Problems...10 Lack of Preparation...11 National Security...11 Multiculturalism...12 What Other Countries Are Doing...13 What We Should Do...14 Change Our Mindset...15 Prepare Global Citizens...16 Cultivate Diverse Talents...17 Facing the Globalization Crisis...17 References...18 Globalization has become a crisis in many parts of the world. How globalization will affect us and the future of our education systems depend on how we face the challenges. Policy makers, education leaders, and the public must come together to face this crisis. Together, we need to consider how to educate Americans to become valuable and indispensable contributors to the integrated and interdependent global economy. EDge is published bimonthly between September and May at Phi Delta Kappa International, 408 North Union Street, P.O. Box 789, Bloomington, Indiana USA. Online at Editor...Grant E. Mabie Designers...Victoria Voelker, Merridee LaMantia Typestylist...Sheila Way-Middleton Copyright 2007 by Phi Delta Kappa International ISSN EDge is a PDK member benefit. Kappans can go to the PDK website, register, log in, and download a free PDF edition as each new issue becomes available. Readers who want paper editions mailed to them may purchase an annual subscription for $28.95 for 5 issues. Kappans can buy an annual subscription at the member discount rate of only $23.95 a $5 savings. To subscribe, phone and pay by credit card. Personal orders accompanied by a check made out to Phi Delta Kappa International and institutional purchase orders may be mailed to Phi Delta Kappa International, ATTN: EDge Subscription, P.O. Box 789, Bloomington, IN Purchase orders may be faxed to 812/ Education in the Flat World: Implications of Globalization on Education Yong Zhao WE NEED TO ENCOURAGE CHILDREN to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We ve made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America s children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world. GEORGE W. BUSH, 2006 The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, President Bush s prescription for education and American competition in the global economy, fails to meet the nation s education needs. Instead, it is simply fool s gold, attracting American education into a deep dark cave rather than a bright future. Already, this prescription has caused considerable damage. It has resulted in mounting pressures to narrow what children can learn in schools so that they can score better than their Chinese and Indian counterparts in math and science. Thanks to NCLB, now in its fifth year of implementation, teachers and principals are poring over test results with unprecedented intensity. Struggling students are receiving extra lessons in reading and math, sometimes at the expense of class time in other subjects (Rentner et al. 2006, 2). Furthermore, high school reforms have resulted in 22 states requiring students to pass a state exit exam to receive their diplomas. In 2006, 65% of the nation s high school students and 76% of the nation s minority high school students were enrolled in these 22 states. These exit exams are encouraging teachers to spend more class time on tested subjects (Kober et al. 2006, 5). More than limiting what is taught and learned, state tests also constrain how teaching and learning is conducted. Russell and Abrams (2004) found that, though computers are a vital tool for writers and for teaching writing, more than 30% of teachers nationwide do not use computers when teaching writing because the state writing test is handwritten. This is more unsettling when considering that schools are supposed to prepare students for the digital world. Wrong Fixes Though high-stakes testing is central to current reform efforts in U.S. education, it is only one of many elements affecting all players in the education enterprise administrators, teachers, students, and parents. Other elements include centralization and standardization of curriculum, increased demand for teacher quality, more math and science in higher grades, more school choice, and reduction of diversity and flexibility of what schools can offer. The overall goal is to achieve better academic achievement of all students, measured by standardized tests of a limited number of subjects, through increased accountability of schools, administrators, teachers, and students. The impetus for this reform, including both NCLB and separate state-level high school reform initia- EDge: Education in the Flat World 3 tives, can be traced to two sources: concerns over equity and international competition. The equity concern is rooted in the persistent poor performance of a group of schools, located mostly in impoverished inner cities and rural areas, as well as among ethnic minority students in other schools. The concern over international competition has been prompted by both unfavorable comparisons of U.S. students with those in other developed countries, such as Singapore and Korea, and the rapid economic growth of China and India, which have often been blamed for job losses and the surging U.S. trade deficit. As Bill Gates (2005), founder of Microsoft, has declared: This issue available in audio Kappans can visit the PDK website register, log in, and download the audio version of this article. Use Audio EDge anytime you are on the go and want to fill your ears with the latest information. All back issues of EDge also are available online. In the international competition to have the biggest and best supply of knowledge workers, America is falling behind. That is the heart of the economic argument for better high schools. It essentially says: We d better do something about these kids not getting an education, because it s hurting us. But there s also a moral argument for better high schools, and it says: We d better do something about these kids not getting an education, because it s hurting them. The current reform initiatives have been purposefully designed to address the increasing challenges brought about by globalization. Reform advocates, many of them business leaders like Gates, are acutely aware of and often helped create global and digital factors that influence education. They have communicated the sense of urgency for more futureoriented education so that our children can be prepared to compete with their peers in foreign countries (Business Roundtable 2005; U.S. Department of Education 2006a; Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century 2006). Their fixes more accountability (tests and pressure on teachers and schools to achieve better scores), high standards (centralization and standardization of curriculum and instruction), and rigorous instruction (focused teaching to the tests) are comprehensive. NCLB and high school exit exams already have generated far-reaching consequences. They are about to deliver even deeper, sustained effects on the whole U.S. education system. Unfortunately, the clearly observed and indisputably identified effects are all undesirable: narrowing what students learn, teaching to tests, forcing teachers to cheat, and making schools find creative 4 March/April 2007 Volume 2 Number 4 ways to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements. The desired effects raising student achievement and narrowing achievement gaps are not so obvious. According to Rentner and her colleagues (2006), 35 states reported that students received higher scores in English/Language Arts than the previous year, and 36 states reported similar results in math. The rest of the states reported scores declining, staying the same, or other. The report listed possible explanations for the improvement: a) the students indeed learned more, b) the students developed better test-taking skills, c) cheating, d) changes in tests (less rigorous, easier, or lower standards), and e) normal fluctuations in grades. Other national studies doubt even the existence of such gains reported by state officials. For example, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found no gains in student achievement during the same period. The effect of NCLB on narrowing achievement gaps is equally uncertain. The effects of current reforms on student achievement are disappointing, but truly troubling is how NCLB distracts us from teaching what will truly enhance global competitiveness. Even if, somehow, these reform measures miraculously led to significantly increased test scores in math, reading, and science and completely wiped out achievement gaps, our children would not be better prepared for life in a more globalized and technological world. Instead, we are becoming obsessed with test scores in a limited number of subjects, which in essence is the adoption of a single criterion for judging the success of students, teachers, and schools. Once we adopt this single criterion, and we are well on our way, we will kill the most important and soughtafter commodity in the 21st century creativity. How Not to Kill Creativity Creativity has led to many innovations in science and technology, literature, music, and art. In the knowledge-driven economy, the creative class is at the top of the economic value chain and the driving force of economic and social development (Florida 2002). Over the past 150 years, the United States has been the world leader in scientific innovations that have powered economic growth at home and around the world. Though Asia is expected to gain prominence in the 21st century, these countries cannot compete with the U.S. in creativity and innovation. As William About the Author Yong Zhao Yong Zhao is the University Distinguished Professor of Education at Michigan State University, where he also serves as the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Technology as well as the US-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence. He is a fellow of the International Academy for Education and currently serves on the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council s Committee to Review the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays International Education Programs. Zhao received his Ph.D. in Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign in His research interests include diffusion of innovation, teacher adoption of technology, computerassisted language learning, globalization and education, and international and comparative education. Zhao has published extensively in these areas. He has been invited to lecture on issues related to education reform, globalization, and technology in more than 10 countries. He received the 2003 Raymond B. Catell Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association. EDge: Education in the Flat World 5 Are we willing to kill more creativity in exchange for better scores? Hannas (2003) documented, modern development in Asia has been rooted in technology transfers from the United States and European countries. Yet leaders and educators in the United States typically confuse technical skills with creativity. As a result, Asian nations have been working on closing the creativity gap, while the United States has been troubled by the achievement gap revealed by international comparison tests. To be creative is to be different. Florida (2002) found that, in general, tolerance of deviation from tradition and the norm results in greater creativity. In individualist cultures such as the United States, creativity is respected and valued; in collectivist cultures, the emphasis is on continuity and tradition (Sawyer 2006). Schools tend to demand conformity and obedience, yet most young children are naturally curious and highly imaginative, noted Dacey and Lennon (1998, 69). After children have attended school for a while, they become more cautious and less innovative.... Teachers, peers, and the educational system as a whole all diminish children s urge to express their creative possibilities. Yet there is a difference in the degree to which this happens, and this difference may explain, at least in part,the creativity gap between Asians and Americans. First, American children spend less time in academic activities than Chinese and Japanese children do in terms of hours spent at school each day and days spent in school each year (Stevenson and Stigler 1992, 52 53). Second, Asian teachers make an explicit effort during the early months of elementary school to teach children to think of themselves as a group and to be constantly aware of their obligations to the group (Stevenson and Stigler 1992, 62). Third, American parents generally seem to be more satisfied with their children s academic performance and their schools than do mothers in China and Japan. American parents define success more broadly and strongly emphasize that children are individuals. In contrast, Asian parents play an extremely high value on grades, test scores, and, most important, admission to prestigious universities. All other activities including art, music, community, and athletic development are considered unimportant unless they produce an advantage in entering better colleges. American parents broader definition of success and the emphasis on internal standards of success may not lead to high test scores or good grades, but they do help to preserve and protect individuality and 6 March/April 2007 Volume 2 Number 4 creativity. A broader conception of student success and less emphasis on external indicators allow students to feel good even if they excel in areas other than academic subjects. This also enables, if not encourages, children to pursue their interests and thus preserve some level of intrinsic motivation, which is essential for creativity (Dacey and Lennon 1998). Asian parents emphasis on external indicators and high expectations for the education system lead to less self-confidence and externalization of motivation, which is detrimental to creativity. Consequently, Asians are much more interested in external rewards than Americans when they enter the work force. When asked to select the important aspects in a job, about 82% of Americans mentioned a job that is interesting. In stark contrast, only 18% of Chinese mentioned this (World Values Survey ). Finally, standardized and centralized curricula, another feature of Asian education systems often praised by reformers, serve to further squeeze opportunities for individual differences. Teaching at the same pace, in the same sequence, and using the same textbooks for all students leaves little room for exploring individual interests and accommodating different learning styles. Curriculum standardization and highstakes testing do not nurture creativity. The U.S. education system can make a choice. Are we willing to kill more creativity in exchange for better scores? This seems to be the path current reformers have chosen, and we risk losing the position of the world s leading hub for scientific and technological innovations. Such a loss would be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. I m not arguing for a system that lets children do whatever they want. Indeed, systematic, in-depth, and disciplined learning is required for anyone who wants to succeed in life. But this learning must not be confined to a limited number of subjects, and our schools must not honor a limited range of talents. Learning must not be confined to a limited number of subjects, and our schools must not honor a limited range of talents. Multiple Intelligences and Global Education By now, more than 20 years after Howard Gardner s seminal book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences was first published in 1983, the idea that there is more than one intelligence that each of us possess a unique set of intelligences has been generally accepted. As Gardner (1993, xxiii) wrote in his introduction to the 10th edition: In the heyday of the psychometric and behaviorist eras, it was generally believed that EDge: Education in the Flat World 7 intelligence was a single entity that was inherited; and that human beings initially a blank slate could be trained to learn anything, provided that it was presented in an appropriate way. Nowadays an increasing number of researchers believe precisely the opposite; that there exists a multitude of intelligences, quite independent of each other; that each intelligence has its own strengths and constraints; that the mind is far from unencumbered at birth; and that it is unexpectedly difficult to teach things that go against early naïve theories that challenge the natural lines of force within an intelligence and its matching domains. For both biological and cultural reasons, we are intelligent in different domains, more intelligent in some areas while less intelligent in others. Yet, in its attempt to cultivate certain talents, school suppresses other, less valued talents. Most schools today tend to value only two of the intelligences on Gardner s original list: linguistic and logical-mathematical. Though many have embraced the spirit of Gardner s theory and the associated research, schools have not broadened what they value. A child s performance in math and language is still the primary indicator of intelligence or ability. As a result, those incl
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