yong zhao – on creatives

yong zhao b&w

may be wrong

numbers-can-lie-what-timss-and-pisa-truly-tell-us-if-anything/ – zhao

In the case of statistics from international educational assessments, the question about the future has rarely been explored. It has been assumed that these numbers indicate nations’ capacity to build a better future. And thus we must dive in urgently to learn about why others are getting better numbers than us. This assumption, however, may be wrong.

In my latest book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, I identified two paradigms of education: employee-oriented and entrepreneur-oriented.  The employee-oriented paradigm aims to transmit a prescribed set of content (the curriculum and standards) deemed to be useful for future life by external authorities, while the entrepreneur-oriented aims to cultivate individual talents and enhance individual strengths. The employee-orientedparadigm produces homogenous, compliant, and standardized workers for mass employment while the entrepreneurial-oriented education encourages individuality, diversity, and creativity.

Although in general, all mainstream education systems in the world currently follows the employee-oriented paradigm, some may not be as effectively and successfully as others. The international test scores may be an indicator of how successful and effective the employee-oriented education has been executed. In other words, these numbers are measures of how successful the prescribed content has been transmitted to all students. But the prescribed content does not have much to do with an already industrialized country such as the U.S., whose economy relies on innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. As a result, although American schools have not been as effective and successful in transmitting knowledge as the test scores indicate, they have somehow produced more creative entrepreneurs, who have kept the country’s economy going. Moreover, it is possible that on the way to produce those high test scores, other education systems may have discouraged the cultivation of the creative and entrepreneurial spirit and capacity.

Comparing the two sets of data shows clearly countries that score high on PISA do not have levels of entrepreneurship that match their stellar scores. More importantly, it seems that countries with higher PISA scores have fewer people confident in their entrepreneurial capabilities.

The independence and social skills American children develop give them a huge advantage when they join the workforce. They learn to experiment, challenge norms, and take risks. They can think for themselves, and they can innovate. This is why America remains the world leader in innovation; why Chinese and Indians invest their life savings to send their children to expensive U.S. schools when they can. India and China are changing, and as the next generations of students become like American ones, they too are beginning to innovate. So far, their education systems have held them back.

So far all international test scores measure the extent to which an education system effectively transmits prescribed content.

In this regard, the U.S. education system is a failure and has been one for a long time.

But the successful transmission of prescribed content contributes little to economies that require creative and entrepreneurial individual talents and in fact can damage the creative and entrepreneurial spirit. Thus high test scores of a nation can come at the cost of entrepreneurial and creative capacity.

While the U.S. has failed to produce homogenous, compliant, and standardized employees, it has preserved a certain level of creativity and entrepreneurship. In other words, while the U.S. is still pursuing an employee-oriented education model, it is much less successful in stifling creativity and suppressing entrepreneurship.

The U.S. success in creativity and entrepreneurship is merely an accidental by product of a less successful employee-oriented education, which is far from sufficient to meet the coming challenges brought about by globalization and technological changes. Thus in a sense, the U.S. education is in turmoil, inadequate, and obsolete, but it has to move toward more entrepreneur-oriented instead of more employee-oriented.

The U.S. success in creativity and entrepreneurship is merely an accidental by product of a less successful employee-oriented education, which is far from sufficient to meet the coming challenges brought about by globalization and technological changes

The U.S. success in creativity and entrepreneurship is merely an accidental by product of a less successful employee-oriented education, which is far from sufficient to meet the coming challenges brought about by globalization and technological changes


huge comment at 20 min in of ascd 2014 panel:

20 min – Yong – we have to remove our mindset.. the constrains we impose – as long as you try to judge students through anything – you are removing the possible choice – because you are not recognizing students as legitimate actors… only when they do things we want them to do .. they are worth something…

huge. grazie Yong..


Is school enough as it is?

math & money - app

Is it too much?

public ed & tests - app

Perhaps we take heed of Kathryn Schulz’s sage advice.. and we admit that perhaps we’re wrong about what we’re investing the most in.

As well as the world’s as far as what seems to show up missing again and again – joy – in learning.


just a curiosity if this is true, not that it matters, just curious.

exclusive-pasi-sahlberg-on-timss-and-pirls/ – sahlsberg via ravitch

Simplified distinction of these two studies is that where TIMSS tests students’ mastery of what have been taught from the curricula, PISA assesses how students can use those knowledge and skills that they were taught in new situations.

yeah. how do you measure human capacity?

human ability?


Find/follow Yong many places, perhaps start here:

yong zhao site

a bit of satire

if only.


yong zhao on common core



sept 2014 – about his new book:

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World published by Jossey-Bass in September 2014. Also available onAmazon and Barnes & Noble.]



oct 2014 interview:

Yong Zhao warns that America is on a suicidal quest for educational excellence…


In exchange for the comfort of knowing how their children are doing academically and that their schools are being held accountable, Americans welcomed high-stakes testing into public education. Without the benefit of historical experience with these kinds of high-stakes tests, however, Americans failed to recognize those benign-looking tests as a Trojan horse—with a dangerous ghost inside. That ghost, authoritarianism, sees education as a way to instill in all students the same knowledge and skills deemed valuable by the authority. 


EduShyster: Your description in the last chapter of what authoritarian education looks like reminded me so much of the strict *no excuses* charter schools that are rapidly replacing traditional public schools in urban areas. Do you see parallels?

Zhao: I definitely do. As long as you’re trying to deny the existence of individual passions, strengths, weaknesses, interests and curiosity and instead homogenize individuals in order to meet your expectations, it’s authoritarian. A lot of these charter schools are trying to achieve a single outcome—sending all kids to college—but all kids aren’t the same.


The Common Core carries an authoritarian prescription because there’s no way you can prescribe one body of thinking in math and English Language Arts that’s going to apply to everybody.


part 1 of 2 – of a conversation with Luba mar 2015:



april 2015

Yong Zhao at The Network for Public Education National Conference in Chicago.

we need more of this: individuals doing something about something they don’t like of their govt

most popular phrase in u.s. today: readiness, ready for everything, ready for something else.. just not life

8 min – why i titled this – american’s suicidal quest to outcomes

if output matters inside matters

suicide ness

12 min – underperforming, evidence-based (who’s evidence, et al), .. all these terms we use

14 min – per test scores – there was never a good ol day in education in the past

15 min – china has been #1 ever since they participated in testing – pisa

17 min – on multiple wake up calls

18 min – a lot of data is true.. but truth.. what does it mean (on chinese children being 2 yrs ahead in math scores of others in australia)

21 min – china looking at different set of indicators… ie: they didn’t celebrate with great pisa scores.. they don’t like their education.. they want a steve jobs

22 min – a lot of people criticize america for spending more and having lower test scores..

24 min – on rudolph as steve jobs – china should have 4 – why don’t they.. rudolph goes to special ed..

in our ed system – we use authoritarian prescription of curriculum/testing to select/define kids..

if you happen to be doing what i want you to do – you’re gifted and talented..

ed trying to define children by their deviation from our authoritarian prescription of what we mean by education

about forcing people to do what some people have prescribed us to do

we are committing suicide by destroying the tradition of virtues…

28 min – kindergarten should be ready for me not me ready for kindergarten

29 min – we are not running a country club.. we are running a public education system

30 min – on local control – on who gets to judge

32 min – boomerang ed.. anti-basement readiness –

get what he’s saying.. but also something to say about – why do we insist on families moving apart..

39 min – should have disclaimers like med bottles – this may improve test scores.. but may get child to hate reading forever…

40 min – u.s. out-confidents people – (but is that because we question the term math..? rather than we’re dopey, ie: american students too happy for their own good.. don’t know how bad they are because we have lower standards) – countries with high test scores have less confident people

43 min – very scary – u.s. now trying to bring in pisa to every state

44 min – on automation replacing many jobs

earn a living\ work ethic ness

46 min – different society now – age of abundance..

46 min – today in america we don’t worry about food, shelter, clothing

whoa.. what about poverty levels in u.s.?

49 min – every talent is valuable when developed

50 min – everyone is born to be creative – that’s a human being

52 min – entrepreneurial thinking – if you’re not happy about something.. do something about it..

53 min – our youth doesn’t fit into a future world.. they create it

54 min – we have to redefine the outcome of education


What works can hurt: side effects in education @YongZhaoEd bit.ly/2lVMoG7


@NEPCtweet @YongZhaoEd Do the right thing, do something positive for schools: Make Zhao’s article available for free, at least temporarily.

Yong shared his personal pdf.. but asked not to distribute..

p 13 – help with improving test scores but hinder the development of confidence and interest

The damages are treated as unintended consequences, only to be uncovered afterwards. The damages could have been avoided if studying and reporting side effects had been a requirement for all proponents of policies and practices

p 17 – Program evaluation should include investigating both effects and side effects.

and question assumed/desire/compulsorized effects.. ie: passing tests


 Stephen Downes (@oldaily) tweeted at 5:37 AM – 13 Sep 2018 :
The Side Effects of Education: Research and Practice #oldaily https://t.co/aBBG6XBJrR The author considers the use of scientific evidence in education research in the light of Yong Zhao’s  new book: What Works May Hurt – The Side Effects of Education. (http://twitter.com/oldaily/status/1040202773311234050?s=17)


author of “What Works May Hurt” and “Reach For Greatness,” is the opening guest for the 2018-19 MURSDleads season.

22 min – time to recreate/reinvent

38 min – wanted to see children create personalized learning..t

listen to their daily cure ios city and facil that.. tech as it could be..

ie: 2 convers.. as infra

ie: hlb via 2 convers that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way

the energy of 7bn alive people

undisturbed ecosystem

in the city.. as the day..

gershenfeld something else law


skimmed what works may hurt


Yong Zhao (@YongZhaoEd) tweeted at 1:48 AM – 27 Jan 2020 :
My article: Two decades of havoc: A synthesis of criticism against PISA in the Journal of Educational Change available online: https://t.co/CTK9ehqDiP https://t.co/WEGClsroTE (http://twitter.com/YongZhaoEd/status/1221716603483459585?s=17)

The purpose of this article is to present a summary of criticisms that reveal the most fundamental flaws of PISA in non-technical language in one place. Specifically, the article focuses on criticisms of PISA’s three fundamental deficiencies: its underlying view of education, its implementation, and its interpretation and impact on education globally.