Thinking about the purpose of education: Prof Yong Zhao

Prepare your students for the globalised world!

What’s an “average” seven year old? This is a question world acclaimed educationalist Yong Zhou posed to New Zealand audiences when he visited in July.

As an educator, he has long railed against education systems which he says have over- test students and designed curriculums based around the notion of average or, in our case, “national standards.”

Yong is currently Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education at the University of Oregon.

For Yong Zhao, there’ s no such thing as an “average student”, and designing a system based around the notion of average as predicted by collecting and averaging “big-data” misses, he says, the real needs of children. 

“The purpose of education ought to be about helping every individual child reach their potential.”

This is particularly important in the new global economy, because  the jobs that exist now might not exist by the time today’s students enter the workplace. To succeed in this fast changing world, students need to be able to think like entrepreneurs.  They need to think resourcefully, flexibly, creatively and globally.

Yong Zhao is urging government policy makers and educators to work towards an education system that cultivates independent thinkers who are willing and able to use their learning differently to create jobs and contribute positively to the globalised society.

Sponsored by NZEI Te Riu Roa, Yong spoke to audiences in Auckland and in Wellington where he joined a discussion panel with award winning documentary maker Bryan Bruce and children's advocate Deborah Morris-Travers. 

Yong Zhao speaks to Wellington educators, July 2016

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See full presentations from Professor Yong Zhao, Hon Deborah Morris-Travers, and Bryan Bruce

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