OETC Conference part 2
Further reflection on Yong Zhao’s keynote takes me to questions that he posed for the audience to consider:
- What is readiness for life?
- Are you learning something that cannot be replaced by machines or moved overseas?
- Are our schools valuing creativity?
Does the education system coupled with the other significant institutions in our society provide our young people the opportunity to be ready for life, to be independent. Does the sausage system of education (Yong Zhao’s term), with a significant focus on testing to ensure the standards are being met, bring about the desired outcome of young people being able to live independent successful lives? Or does it just produce young people who are no longer able to employ skills that are creative, entrepreneurial, innovative and resourceful?
If we want employees to be creative, entrepreneurial, innovative and resourceful then our education system needs to provide the freedom to facilitate this within schools and classrooms. If we want young people to find jobs that exist in a world that is existing within a global economy we need these skills to be encouraged, supported and mentored. If a sausage system of education is maintained then the industrial model of work is being supported extremely well, yet this is not where the emerging opportunities exist as a result of our position in a global context.
Zhao calls for a more individualised education system, one that allows diversity, creativity and entrepreneurial skills to be encouraged, built upon and central to learning. He presents a model that is different to the sausage system, one where students leave with more, rather than less:
He asks the question, what if we focussed on individuals? Allowing young people to focus on creating authentic products to server a purpose. Through doing this they focus on needs, a key aspect to being entrepreneurial.
This requires significant thought and consideration as it is an approach that involves partnerships, understanding local and global issues and the systems that impact on the student in the school environment. It also involves “product-oriented learning which requires multiple revisions, sustained and disciplined processes and peer reviews” from a school level approach along with “personalized and strength-based educational experiences” (http://zhaolearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/WorldClass.pdf p.66 and 59 respectively). This process requires a rigorous approach and good design, it values creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial skills that cannot be replaced by machines. It provides a pathway for the young person to add value and be of valued by the local and global communities we live in, enabling them to be ready for life – “to move out of the basement” (Yong Zhao 12th February OECT Conference) and become independent.