Through the Education Lens

"The Flat World and Education": A Wake-Up Call For Teachers & Parents

CJ Westerberg, January 29, 2010 10:00 AM


Is This The Book Of The Year?   "The Flat World And Education"


Video Below Comparing The U.S. Vs. Other Countries: 
What They Do Right & What We Can Learn From Them. 

"The 21st century is characterized by the availability of abundant information, advanced technology, a rapidly changing society, greater convenience in daily lives, and keener international competition.  In response to these changes, our Education Reform should aim at nurturing the new generation characteristics and abilities capable of meeting the challenges of the new century . . . Education reform must be student-focused . . .to develop the potential and personalities of students.  This student-focused spirit underlines the education and curriculum reforms, improvement to the learning environment,
and enhancement of teacher training."

                                        --Hong Kong Education Commission, June 2003

                                     Taken from The Flat World and Education

By C.J. Westerberg

I cannot wait to read the new Linda Darling-Hammond book, The Flat World and Education,
in its entirety. (I'm about two thirds the way through it).  It's not a book you can or want to breeze through since it very well may be a "magnum opus", as James A. Banks suggests in the Foreword.  I am, unabashedly, a huge fan of her work.

It's an important book about our future - with clear arguments and solutions for transforming education.  What's particularly impressive is the way she paints a picture of education in other leading countries, such as Singapore, Finland and Korea, and then relates those observations to a nuanced blueprint for change, without reducing solutions to a one size-fits-all oversimplification.

To get a sense of her work, we also have a video below from Edutopia, where she succinctly illustrates numerous differences between the United States and high-achieving countries in record time.  A lot of ground is covered from teacher training and professionalism to NCLB (No Child Left Behind assessments).    An example of just one of the big take-aways? 

We are teaching too much content superficially without mastery . . . and the end result is taking its toll. (ie. Singapore Math standards are 10 pages long to master in K-12;  some US standards include 300 concepts to cover in only one year!).  The others may surprise you even more - see for yourself in video below.

Darling-Hammond,  Professor of Education at
Stanford University,51GsaR5ZPGL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_.jpg is one of those education heroines who has both the experience AND the vision, with equal weighting in both arenas - a very rare combination.  She launched the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute and the School Redesign Network. Full bio link here.

Her in-depth research and experience in learning, teaching, and schools systems combined with her hard-hitting social commentary create a formidable foundation for the solutions she
shares in her work.

And, for those private school parents, listen up. Your kids are not immune to her message, so don't feel "your kids are off the hook", especially when a similar message comes from Harvard.

Check out these posts from two most notable Harvard professors:
Howard Gardner, an icon in the education world with a powerful statement about how even our top students' ability to employ higher level skills have been compromised here;
and David Perkins, here, from MIT and Harvard, stating how the top of his class may not be seeing how to solve a problem with X and Y if suddenly Q is brought into the equation. 

 Video below:

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