Professor Zhao currently works at the University of Kansas and was previously the Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education at the University of Oregon, where he is also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership.
He is a professorial fellow for Health and Education Policy and his work focuses on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He has published over 100 articles and 30 books, including Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization and World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students.
His ideas and big picture thinking about education were incredibly inspiring, as was his passion and commitment to children, their learning and well-being.
Some of the take-home messages were:
- Everyone can learn!
- We are each born with incredible creative capacity!
- Everybody is creative at a genius level at age 4 but then it rapidly declines … how can we protect and foster this creativity throughout schooling and on into our lives?
- The foundation of learning is CREATIVITY!
- Developing a growth mindset supports learning!
- We need to help children to discover and nurture their strengths and talents – the more diverse theses are – the better for our society!
- Technology is advancing at such an incredible rate, the challenge is to find our passion and to tap into our own creativity and strengths – to become uniquely great so that we can carve out a niche for ourselves!
- A good education creates a very broad and diverse curriculum
- Less assessment, more feedback!
- Important to give children more autonomy and agency – at home and at school!
- Children need to learn to ask good questions, to identify real world problems and to employ creative thinking to solving them!
- We need to think more globally!
In a world and an education system driven by league tables, Naplan data, testing regimes and more, Yong Zhao’s messages really resonated with all the leaders in the room. Schools and families are being challenged to continue to support children to discover and develop the special abilities, interests and talents they each possess, so they can create a niche for themselves, in a world where technology is having an ever increasing impact, on the nature of the work we do and on how we live – now and into the future.
And so the learning journey continues…