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The global achievement gap: why even our best schools don't teach the new survival skills our children need--and what we can do about it
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The global achievement gap: why even our best schools don't teach the new survival skills our children need--and what we can do about it

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  1,257 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews
Despite the best efforts of educators, our nation’s schools are dangerously obsolete. Instead of teaching students to be critical thinkers and problem-solvers, we are asking them to memorize facts for multiple choice tests. This problem isn’t limited to low-income school districts: even our top schools aren’t teaching or testing the skills that matter most in the global kn
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Erin
Jul 14, 2012 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book. I am a high school teacher and I wholeheartedly agreed with half of it. I see more truth in his critique of problems with the teaching profession than I relate to his observation of high school classrooms.

Wagner's main point, and the one I both agree with and struggle with, is that students need to be thinking critically and collaborating in all their classes. I work to incorporate collaboration into my classes, and try to include as much critical thinking as I can. It is often
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Aaron Maurer
Oct 14, 2011 Aaron Maurer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
The title pretty much sums up the book. I began reading this book over the summer. I was about 1/3 of the way through and decided to stop reading the book and return it to the library. Why? Because there was so much great content that I was spending more time writing out my notes than actually reading the book.

I recently purchased the book for my iPad so I could highlight and type my notes. This proved a much more productive method(and lead me to a thought on education practices) and allowed me
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Jonna Higgins-Freese
I'm a little weary of apocalyptic rhetoric in every genre, so I approached this with a skeptical eye. The author outlines "seven survival skills" for the future that every child should learn, and honestly, that kind of thing is always intellectually difficult for me to grasp, and seems very amorphous: critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration across networks, etc.

More helpful to me were the notes from the "learning walks" the author conducts at various schools, where he provided speci
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Brian Ayres
I found this book to be extremely repetitive and highly disappointing. While I do not have all the answers and certainly agree with Wagner's stance on the lack of "rigor" in over-hyped Advanced Placement factories in the suburbs, Wagner continuously went back to the question: W.D.CEOs.W. That is: "What do CEOs want?" as if CEOs of major corporations are the epitome of Wagner's seven survival skills for teens today. It is comical to read -- though not surprising seeing Wagner is a member of the f ...more
Nshslibrary
Have you ever stopped to question how students are taught today compared to how they were taught ten, twenty, or thirty years ago? Well, the answer is that there is very limited if not no change to the once successful teaching methods used in the United States. Tony Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap not only goes into depth to uncover teaching methods that work and don’t work, it examines and explains the driving forces behind these successes and failures while going into detail on how to impr ...more
Lauren Sterling
Mar 16, 2014 Lauren Sterling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm very delayed in sending out this review. I read this book back in 2009, and had the good fortune of then engaging Tony Wagner to come to Maine to keynote an education conference at the time the state's leadership was changing. Oddly, the Maine Education Commissioner tried to embrace the book/author's recommendations, but was blocked at every turn by Governor LePage. That being said, this book takes the research from enormous studies that identified the seven specific skills missing in our em ...more
Alex T.
Jun 08, 2016 Alex T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: professional
I shared many quotes and thoughts from this book on my Facebook account. In general, I love Dr. Wagner's emphasis on his Seven Survival Skills and the understanding that our education system needs to be reinvented and reimagined in order to reflect the needs of 21st century learners, workers, and citizens. I also appreciate his call for more effective assessments that are performance- and portfolio-based over the typical multiple-choice recall assessments that have been used for decades. There a ...more
Joe Wood
Dec 20, 2010 Joe Wood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-work
A great book anyone should read. I purposely say anyone, because all of us shape the schools in our communities. Wagner does a great job of calling out just why our schools desperately need to change for the better to meet the demands of the 21st century economy. I use this book so much the pages are starting to fall out.
Deb Christenson
Jul 19, 2009 Deb Christenson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We are reading this book as mandatory summer reading for my school. It details what's wrong with most schools and how to get it right. Wagner affirms for me what I believe in educational best practices: highly recommended!
Michael
Feb 16, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great critique of modern education.
Phillip
Feb 22, 2017 Phillip rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a fine read. But if you are in the market for a much better book on education then read Class Warfare by Steven Brill.

The book is strange in some ways. For example, Wagner goes off on brief and random tangents about global warming that had nothing to do with the topic. Wagner also ignores a lot research that Brill tackles in Class Warfare. There is good stuff in The Global Achievement Gap, but your time is better spent on something else.
Heather
Feb 03, 2013 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
This was a great book! It made me think about a lot of important things and inspired me to want to go out and make a difference! It reminded me a lot of the movie “Waiting for Superman,” but it had more specific ideas for improving education and the culture of education in our country now. It reminded me so much of the work I was doing in DC – to inspire educators to be leaders and to encourage a culture change at the Department of Education. This is such interesting and important stuff! Educati ...more
Nshslibrary
Nov 19, 2015 Nshslibrary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you feel ready for life, you’re wrong. Studies have shown that, “Only about a third of U.S. high school students graduate ready for college today… Forty percent of all students who enter college must take remedial courses” (xix). In Tony Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap, the author introduces facts about the current state of the education system. He argues that the education system in the U.S. is very outdated, causing students to drop out of school.

First, Wagner talks about what he calls
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Stuart Nachbar
Sep 16, 2008 Stuart Nachbar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Survival Skills over Standardized Testing

I likened Tony Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap more to Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat than any other academic treatise on the quality of secondary education in America. If I had the money, I would buy a copy of this book for every governor, congressman and senator; this book presents a fair better direction for education politics than the current thoughts from Washington.

Based on his professional experiences as a teacher and academic, as well as
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Mindy Darling
Mar 03, 2017 Mindy Darling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He makes good points about critical thinking. I teach at the undergrad level in nursing and see a profound lack of critical thinking in both students and young nurses although this is supposed to be a core competency in the field. On the other hand, his methods require a enormous investments of both time and effort from teachers (in addition to current expectations) and he explicitly states that teachers in his example excellent schools have income comporable to those in surrounding schools whil ...more
Ken Rideout
Two major premises of Wagner's book I don't really agree with:

1. Corporate & business types know what is best for K-12 education.
2. The current internet-enabled generation is fundamentally different from all previous generations.

Also, Wagner has a clear lack of understanding of math & science and is on very shaky ground whenever discussing these subjects. He makes claims such as the periodic table is "constantly changing" (it is not) and says something like, "No one has explained to me t
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Kyle
Feb 01, 2015 Kyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wagner's critique and analysis of the American education is a rather common one: America's schools are behind in test scores, global competitiveness, and overall achievement levels. Wagner's book aims to analyze the problem, where it arose from, what America's schools are like today, what genuinely successful schools are like, and what certain schools can do to get there, all wrapped up in his own set of necessary twenty-first century skills. It does about three-fourths of that very well.

Wagner'
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Robin Cicchetti
This was time well spent. Wagner did a solid job building the framework for understanding why and how the global terrain of work, economy and global relationships has changed. Building on the educational implications, he made sound arguments for the benefits of reviewing how we prepare students for productive, skilled lives in this new environment.
He bases his framework for change in 7 Survival Skills: 1) Critical Thinking & Problem Solving 2) Collaborating Across Networks 3)Agility and Ada
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John Young
Jul 14, 2013 John Young rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few weeks ago, I heard Tony Wagner speak in New York. I was so impressed with what he said about skills students need exiting school today that I wanted to learn more. Published in 2008, Wagner's work has influenced policy making decisions across our country's schools. He contends that, while there many criticize public schools, the criticism is misguided. He argues that schools have not failed; rather, schools have become obsolete. This is a major shift in a time when "accountability and sanc ...more
Dorene
Mar 18, 2010 Dorene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This author really knows his stuff, clearly cares about education, and his writing style and formula are well suited to the topic. He asserts that "Seven Survival Skills" are the essence of how educators should form their objectives for establishing a foundation of lifelong learning - that these are the skills our youth need in order to be productive within and to continue to advance our society. He supports this well with anecdotes, vignettes, and hard data and reminds the reader of this essent ...more
Maria
Wagner argues that our school systems were designed for the needs of students 100 years ago. That No Child Left Behind has encouraged schools and teachers to emphasize content over everything including learning, curiosity and skills. This is ridiculous in a world with the internet. Children don't need to memorize facts, they need to know how to interpret and evaluate vast quantities of facts. The ability to ask and answer questions is far better than "knowing something."

Wagner presents seven "su
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Mr Tom Krawczewicz
Apr 14, 2016 Mr Tom Krawczewicz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: educators
Take away(s):

1. Ask the right questions
2. Have the students learn to ask the questions

leadership: influence vs. authority

communication skills are big

ask why. Why do you say/believe/think that?

Accessing and analyzing information


math lesson (p. 65 and 66):
- a problem they have not seen before
- use prior knowledge and group...
- come up with TWO (2) possible solutions
- randomly pick one member of group to present each solution to class

(92) does advanced math train us to be better problem solvers
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Mark Valentine
Mar 14, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What Friedman did for commerce and industry with his book, The World Is Flat, Wagner does here with education--he calls for action against slipping further and further behind in our schools against the international competition. But the best thing about this highly readable and informative book is that Wagner provides solutions. Not to read this book is a travesty for anyone who is involved in education--I don't care if you are a friend or foe.

First and foremost, he stresses that what our young
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Franc
Feb 03, 2012 Franc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading this for our School Superintendent's book discussion and its a topic I am quite interested in. There is a lot of pressure for rigor in the classroom and teaching kids a lot of stuff - but it seems little emphasis on how to do any of it well, anymore than necessary to pass the MSAs, at least, or how to understand what they have done. They are being taught basic probability and how to read a bar graph in 1st grade, but what's the point when they still don't know what it really means an ...more
Tom Krawczewicz
Apr 13, 2010 Tom Krawczewicz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: educators
Take away(s):

1. Ask the right questions
2. Have the students learn to ask the questions

leadership: influence vs. authority

communication skills are big

ask why. Why do you say/believe/think that?

Accessing and analyzing information


math lesson (p. 65 and 66):
- a problem they have not seen before
- use prior knowledge and group...
- come up with TWO (2) possible solutions
- randomly pick one member of group to present each solution to class

(92) does advanced math train us to be better problem solvers
...more
Anne
If you are interested in the education of your children, then you need to read this book!

The first half tells us what is wrong with our education system; I skipped a lot of that because I see the problems and want to be part of the solution.

The second half gives recommendations and schools making changes and what they do to be successful and give kids a successful education.

The Global Achievement Gap talks about how other countries are years ahead of ours in education, math, science, etc. becau
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Peter
Jan 31, 2012 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting read. I certainly agree with the need to cultivate in our children the "seven survival skills" described by Wagner: critical thinking, collaboration, adaptability, initiative, effective oral and written communication, research and analysis, and curiosity and imagination - along with our need to encourage students to be more invested and accountable in their education. Chapter 5 on Motivating Students and New Workers seemed to be the weakest in an otherwise forceful boo ...more
Janice Krinsky
Jun 30, 2013 Janice Krinsky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The well-written and thoughtful book by leading educator Tony Wagner provides a compelling argument for overhauling our educational system in the United States. Dissatisfied with the traditional teacher training he received at Harvard University, he set out to discover what skills are needed by today's students to succeed in college and careers. He spent years engaging CEOS and other corporate and company leaders and owners and college professors in discussions about the skills most important to ...more
Jay Connor
"Our schools are not failing; rather they are obsolete." Part of my disappointment with Wagner's effort here are his on-going distinctions without a difference like in this quote.

Wagner cites the statistics which now are fairly ingrained in the school reform debate -- slumping graduation rates; slipping performance viz other industrialized countries; staggering increase in the need for remediation (40%) of those entering college.

The global / knowledge economy will require new skills in order fo
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Beth
Aug 25, 2010 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about education and why and how it needs to change to prepare, specifically, high school students for college, for work and for life.
I gave this book 5 stars because it changed my thinking on the subject. I have kids, I have worked within the school systems and I am highly opinionated about what should be taught and how. This book made me re-examine my opinions and change some of them. And any book that makes me do that is a great book IMO.
The author discusses the fact that the worl
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Tony Wagner recently accepted a position as the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard. Prior to this, he was the founder and co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for more than a decade.

Tony consults widely to schools, districts, and foundations around the country and internationally. His previo
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