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Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  304 ratings  ·  38 reviews
At a time when globalization and technology are dramatically altering the world we live in, is education reform in the United States headed down the right path? Are schools emphasizing the knowledge and skills that students need in a global society--or are they actually undermining their strengths by overemphasizing high-stakes testing and standardization? Are education sy ...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by ASCD (first published September 1st 2009)
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May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Zhao says "...what China wants is what America is eager to throw away--an education that respects individual talents, supports divergent thinking, tolerates deviation, and encourages creativity; a system in which the government does not dictate what students learn or how teachers teach; and culture that does not rank or judge the success of a school, a teacher, or a child based on only test scores in a few subjects determined by the government..."
In the end, the author tells us American educati
Okay, I'm really starting this on Sunday, because that's when my BIL is bringing it to me. It's for class, but I'm really interested to hear what this guy has to say about the downsides of the Chinese education system, since the school board, super, and politicians are bemoaning the fact that we suck and China rocks.

This was a pretty amazing solidified in my mind that "my" way of teaching (and that of, well, pretty much all of my teacher-friends) is the right way, and the conservative
Jan 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
A sensible and forward thinking look at education in the US and in other countries. Puts all the rhetoric about what's wrong with American schools into perspective and offers a vision of how to expand what we already do well in order to prepare students for a different world.
Nasir ibn James
Nov 19, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is written for both educators and policy makers in an attempt to dispel the common belief that American education is in a crisis and that American jobs are at risk.

In a time when the nation has turned its attention to testing and accountability, Zhao provides a fresh perspective and some new ideas to the dialogue. While it is true that globalization and technology have led to some unique challenges in education, the move towards increasing math and reading to the exclusion of other cou
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book that compares the history and current status of the American and Chinese education systems in a truly fascinating way. It was very interesting to read about how school reforms got started, the misinformation they were based on, and the inertia of the system that has brought us to our current educational predicament. What we need to be developing isn't better test takers, but global citizens that are prepared to be adaptable and creative in order to find their place in an increasin ...more
James (JD) Dittes
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Yong Zhao doesn't quite 'bestride the world like a colossus,' but for teachers wanting to add global perspective to their experience, his is an important perspective to consider. With one foot in Asia--and a deep understanding of that region's test-driven success--and one foot in America as an educational researcher and teaching instructor at the University of Oregon, Zhao has a lot to say about the future of education on both continents and specific reforms that are under way.

Zhao doesn't pay a
This was a very thoughtful argument for the 'old' American education system -- the one that celebrates talent shows, even if the kids participating have minimal talent. The one that applauds diversity and nurtures creativity.

This sounds a lot like the education I received years ago, when standardized tests where taken in a day, and forgotten. When teachers taught us, knew us. When high school was a chance to try out: art, music. Sciences. Languages. We could see what we liked, what we had an aff
Chase Parsley
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a refreshing perspective on education in America today! Yong Zhao, who grew up in China and is a professor in the United States, writes a mind-bending account of the dangers of increased "accountability", standards, and all of the other magic bullets associated with the current education reform movement. Despite honest intentions, it is an outrage what the education reform movement is doing today.

Some of my favorite points include: how test scores really do not matter when analyzed in
Erik Akre
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: educators and policy makers
Shelves: education, america
Current policy in education (in 2011 but continuing currently) will eventually--and especially if strengthened--make the United States less competitive in the global age, because it will squelch the creativity of American children. This he says is now the trait that really matters in an accomplished learner. Zhao looks to China especially in his writing as an example of how testing and standardization have continually turned out a population of good test-takers who are also low-ability and low-f ...more
Jamie N
Nov 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
This is a important book to read. It got me a bit fired up. The content is timely – education reform and international comparison – and Zhao is particularly qualified to speak to the relative merits of the Chinese vs. American educational systems. He provides a overview of the history of reform in the United States – the “evolution of accountability,” provides a description of each country’s (America/China)education system, discusses the kind of education we need for the future, and provides a t ...more
Nov 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
I just can't bring myself to give 5 stars to non-fiction - I can't imagine I'll ever like it that much.

But I did enjoy this and it was a pretty quick easy read with some interesting points. I am very much looking forward to talking to some of my friends who know more about China then I do. I am especially interested in his assertion that standardized testing is what caused China to stop inventing. i.e. they invented paper, gunpowder, etc. and then they introduced the imperial examinations and ki
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
A strong, well-developed argument for changing course in education "reform" in America. Published four years ago, right after Obama was elected, I was surprised to see how prescient the book is in describing the persistence of a wrong-headed, government-sponsored grand theory of how to "fix" education in the U.S: tests, standardization, and meaningless competition.

The book would be a great overview for anyone who hasn't been deeply immersed in education policy and change. Yong Zhao's global pers
Sue Lyle
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating read by a Chinese man brought up in china and now an academic in the west. He identifies why china wants to be more like the US and way the US wants to be more like china. His critique with Evidence and personal experience to support his argument claims that america is doing well In education and china is not. It is the US that is producing the critical thinkers, the creative minds, the innovative scientists and entrepreneurs - not china. It is the US that wins the Olympics ...more
David Rickert
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
The beginning part of this book was pretty dry - a bunch of statistics on testing in China and America and where both countries have gone astray in their educational systems. Once Zhao begins to analyze the skills that are needed to thrive in a global economy, it turned into a pretty captivating read. There are a lot of skills that we definitely need to teach kids in order for them to thrive today, and a lot of them deal with being able to navigate the virtual world. One I'd definitely like to r ...more
Oct 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
The great part of the book is its accurate critique of the culture of testing and how American schools still excel over others in terms of fostering individuals and creativity, critical thinking. Clear examples of how Chinese and other systems are NOT better and in fact are trying to emulate us to get away from testing. His remedies concentrate on global thinking and aren't as clear as his case against top-down dictating of standards and tests (unless it is a narrow band of standards...)
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Zhao only summarizes education reform over the past few decades, and how the current standards movement has decreased our students ability to succeed in a global world. This is contradictory to what public opinion thinks. Most people are under the impression that the United States is behind in education, and that we are not preparing our students. According to Zhao, the opposite is true. If you have ANY interest in education, read this book!
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
I thought Zhao was interesting when he wrote about the fear and anger that surrounds this conversation. I enjoyed his philosophical overview but for me he became too generalized by the middle of the book. I liked the cross-cultural comparison between China and the United States and it helped me to reflect on my own experiences growing up in Ireland. (You'll have to buy me a guinness to get more from me about that!)
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
If you are an American educator you really should read this book- it took me a long time to absorb the content but it is a great perspective from a Chinese educated MSU professor on why we may not really want to set up our system to imitate China's. He gives very compelling and rational examples while making his points.
Dec 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: education
Zhao works from the perspective that the goal of education is to ensure that the most potential is realized. The American system has its weaknesses, but probably does not do well to focus on improving test scores. Asian countries with the high test scores narrow their talent pools too early and end up with a less creative, less motivated workforce.
An interesting read.
Spacek Kim
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Zhao pulls no punches in laying out the type of education system needed in the United States. Educators understand the need to teach to the whole child, however, politically education has shifted to narrow the curriculum to few subjects. Students are doing amazing things and the sooner education enters the digital age, the better able students will be to live in out emerging world.
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book with lots of convincing arguments in favor of un-standardizing and against high-stakes testing. The author's cultural insights into American philosophy is poignant, and I believe he answered a lot of unanswerable questions.
Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
A must read for anyone concerned with education. It tells how we got into this current mess, and, more importantly, what we can do to get out of it.
Apr 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
This is one of the best books I read on American education moving forward into a global setting.
May 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
Interesting points of view.
Jul 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kimberly by:
Really interesting insights in this book on the future of education and the current state of U.S. schools vs schools in China.
Aug 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Obvious ideas including old tricks... multiple intelligences & differentiation. Should be required reading for students studying to be teachers! ...more
Zhi Jian
Nov 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
A book comparing the pros and cons of US and Asian education systems and the future of education.
A good book for all educators teaching in our globalized world.
Nov 11, 2011 rated it liked it
I miss reading for pleasure! :(
Jordan Perry
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Every educator should read this!
Aug 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Critical look at the impact of standardized testing in American schools. Author takes a very different stance than I thought at the start of the book.
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Yong Zhao is a Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education, with a courtesy appointment in the School of Business, at the University of Kansas. He is also a global chair in education at East China Normal University. 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 ...more

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