World Class Leaners Responses

Blog 3:
The Entrepreneurship Gap
1. Zhao says, “China cannot have a Steve Jobs,” and he goes on to explain why. What drastic changes would China need to make in their educational system so that an entrepreneur like Steve Jobs could survive and start a company like Apple? Could the 826 Valencia program work in China? Explain.”China cannot have a Steve Jobs”.
I agree with Zhao, however, Steve Jobs didn’t make it in the US education system. He made it in the free enterprise society, a culture that embrace individual an creative thinkers. What America offer that most of world do not have is the true social mobility. If you have a great idea and is willing to work hard, you have a chance to move up in society. So I would argue that the question here is not what drastic change would China need to make in their educational system, but rather a inflexible culture mindset change that education takes on many different “forms”. Some may go through traditional method and earn college or higher degrees, while others may be someone like Steve Job, that has incredible brain and education path isn’t necessary something for him.  And as Time reported in a 2013 article (Foroohor), “the Chinese look to the U.S. for the model of how to educate a 21st century workforce”. China has a generation of learners that does want choice, and want to be able to have chance to be creative. Change is already happening, and frankly after being confined for so long, I have to say it will be “drastic”I am not sure if Valencia 826 would work in China. I work with a lot of younger Chinese teachers, and for the past 10 years, although they are still deeply rooted in he older testing system, I do sense that many of younger teacher genuine wanted to change the education system. If this questions was asked 10 years ago, I will say absolutely not, but with China now actively interacting with the outside world, their education system is also changing.
Foroohar, R. (2013, June 27). China: Just as Desperate for Education Reform as the U.S.. Retrieved October 23, 2014, from:
Zhao, Y. (2012). World class learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
2. Zhao says, “The US economy is three times as large as the second largest economy in the world, China which has four times the population…the United States is still viewed as the hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship…American education operates under the same paradigm as the Chinese education system.” So what are differences in the two countries’ school systems? Don’t forget to use sources other than Zhao to support your response.
According to Zhao, there are some major differences between the two educational system, United States and China.  First, American students besides studying have more free time to pursue personal interests. This allow students to develop sense of creativity and ownership.  China however, students spent anywhere from 10-12 hours per day receiving instruction and sometimes seek extra lessons in order to prepare for never ending tests. Second, Chinese government does have clear and strong mandates on curriculum and teaching materials, whereas most of American educational curriculums are mandates state by state. Third, Western education has been stereotyped to be more liberal because students are allowed to combine presented ideas with their own opinions (Gee & Shao, 2012), whereas Chinese students are typically being taught strictly through rote memorization with limited to none of personal opinions.  Overall though, both countries are eager to studying each others educational system. United States have been trying implement more standardize testing and have all states be more equal, where as China are trying to break the traditional mold and teach the 21st. Century students.
Gee, R. & Shao, O. (2012). Opinion: Educational differences between China and America. Retrieved October 24, 2015, from:
Blog #2

1. Discuss two points on which Robinson, Zhao, and Pink would agree about the entrepreneurial spirit and developing that disposition in youth.

First, An over echoing themes from Zhao, Pink and Robinson is that creativity and problem solving leads to higher levels of engagement and motivation. Zhao (2012) identifies creativity as one of the essential qualities of someone with the spirit of an entrepreneur. Creativity cannot be taught in the classroom but it is something that can be fostered. Creativity in the classroom will allow students to individualize their educational experiences (Robinson, 2010). And from (Pink, 2009) When employees (or students) are given time to be innovative and explore their passions, they will be more motivated and perform better.

Second, the purpose of education is to allow students to find what interest and excites them, and allow them to explore and make necessary mistakes. Students needs to know it is ok to take risk. One of my favorite quote from Zhao is that “inspiration, creativity, courage, direct actions, and fortitude (Zhao, p.82, 2012).” He urges that that in order to develop the entrepreneur spirit in youth today we must allow them the opportunity to take risk by providing choices and allow them to explore. (Robinson,2010) states that we need to create a condition in which kids flourish.  We need to customize the system to who we are teaching and make personalized curriculum. And although that may or may not always work, it is ok to try new things.

Cindy Donaldson, wrote an article on ” Benefits of Failure: Why Making Mistakes in School Is a Must” (2013), started with the quote “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” ~ Albert Einstein. In her article, she interviewed every subjects, and repeated, teachers knows that in order to cultivate growth in a students, mistakes in school is a must. Her final thought on “School needs to be a place that doesn’t just teach the right answers; it should also be a place that teaches kids how to bounce back from failure” sum up Pink, Robinson and Zhao well.


Arkell, M. (Producer). (2012). Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation (Video file). Retrieved from:

TED2010. (2010, February). Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution. Retrieved from:

Zhao, Y. (2012). World class learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Donaldson, Cindy (2013, Sept. 4th). Benefits of Failure: Why Making Mistakes in School Is a Must. Retrieved from

3. Zhao discussed many aspects of our changed world and the reason for such high unemployment rates all over the world, even among those with a college education. Research some changes in education over the last 25 years and discuss how they have affected the unemployment of many teachers and/or why many leave the profession.

Personally as a formal classroom teacher for the past 8 years, and now although still in education but not in the same capacity, I have a lot to say about this topic. Zhao stated in his article that we have a mismatched of talents, however,  the issues is bigger then just that. Below is my research findings findings:

1) Over 50% of teachers leave their profession after the first 4 or 5 years because: “The high turnover rates are sometimes due to layoffs, “but the primary reason they leave is because they’re dissatisfied,” said Richard Ingersoll, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania whose research on teacher retention was published in the report. Teachers say they leave because of inadequate administrative support and isolated working conditions, among other things. These losses disproportionately affect high-poverty, urban and rural schools, where teaching staffs often lack experience.” (,2014)

2) The NCLB for the past ten years did not close the education gap, rather same group of kids are still being left behind and created an imbalanced assessment nightmare. Many teachers that were interviewed are overwhelmed and frustrated. (Struss, 2012)

3) In an education timeline, documented by other educators, a clear progression of lack of respect, violence and outside aggressions is clearly apparent in our education landscape. When teachers no longer feel safe in their own work environment, it is hard for them to continue on.

Although these negative facts can be overwhelming, however, I truly believe education is not an overnight magic. What we do is to install a tiny seed, and you will never know when that seed can possibly blossom.


Neason, A (2014, July 23rd). Half Of Teachers Leave The Job After Five Years. Here’s What To Do About It. Retrieved from

Struss, V (2012, Jan. 10th). Ravitch: No Child Left Behind and the damage done. Retrieved from:

No name. (2014, Sept. 3rd). American Educational History: A Hypertext Timeline: Retrieved from:

Zhao, Y. (2012). World class learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.


World Class Learners- Blog #1

Before reading any farther, how would you predict that an “entrepreneurial mindset” (Zhao, 2012, p. 5) would change education today? What would be some specific changes at your school if we truly embraced this mindset toward education at your school?

I have followed Zhao’s publications since 2007 and I was able to attend the Central State Language Conference in 2011 to listen to his Keynote presentation on “Catching up or Leading the Way”, which foreshadowed the book we are now reading in many ways. I read through to page 50 before I was able to put the book down, so I would be lying to say that I am making any “prediction”. However, the “entrepreneurial mindset” (Zhao, 2012, p. 5) is honestly not a new concept. I took some time to also listen to Zhao’s talks about his book, and he mentioned several times that, throughout history, society has to constantly redefine talent and knowledge. In a way, we are now facing “talent mismatch”, as many new graduates are unable to find jobs, and companies are not finding qualifying workers. It is almost imperative that all students learn to have an “entrepreneurial mindset” in order to be able to compete in the fast ever-changing global market.

In my current position, although I do not have a traditional classroom, I provide professional development for 38 K-12 Mandarin Chinese teachers. In that respect, I work with a large number of students and schools. If I could make specific changes, the first change that I would like to implement would be to connect classrooms with another country. I truly believe that, in order for any opportunities to take place, knowledge is the key. Being able to connect beyond the confinements of the current brick and mortar classroom setting will hopefully engage and open the mindsets of students and enable them to create and construct new opportunities. The second change I would like to implement would be a working simulation of business models for local companies to mentor schools and students. Communication, connection, and collaboration would be the key to help our students to embrace this mindset, if they could understand the process and be guided by others. The third and final change I would like to implement would be to create a safe environment for students to try out their business ideas and celebrate any failures. It is through failing that we learn the best. If we could help our students to understand that often the most valuable lesson in life/business comes from failed ideas, we could all embrace the entrepreneurial mindset and create new opportunities for the future.

Compare and contrast the Common Core Standards (CCS) and the concepts at the Tinkering School. If the Tinkering School were a full academic year program, predict end-of-grade assessment results at a CCS school and the Tinkering School and justify your answer.

Before I blog anything, I must admit that I am opposed to CCS.

CCS standards in a simplicity terms are:

  • Research and evidence based
  • Clear, understandable, and consistent
  • Aligned with college and career expectations
  • Based on rigorous content and the application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills
  • Built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards
  • Informed by other top-performing countries to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society

Tinkering School and the Common Core Standards (CCS) both focus on rigorous content and the application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills. I also believe, in someway, that both are evidence based, although I am not certain that they are research based. However, beyond this, I am having a hard time to find other similarities. In contrast, I do not believe the end goal of the Tinkering School, at this point, is aimed for college and career expectations. I also have a sense that, although the Tinkering School’s direction is clear and understandable, I believe it may not be necessary to be consistent at all times.

If the Tinkering School were to become a full-year academic program, I predict that end-of-grade assessments will look very different from those of the CCS school. In fact, I would say that, in a traditional paper-based testing assessment, Tinkering school students would not test very high, as the school’s focuses are rather holistic and are aimed at their  “Big Ideas, Real Tools, No Recipe” slogan. However, according to the terms of the guidelines, the end goal of the CCS school is to be aligned with state standards. Therefore, a traditional assessment would be something that students would most likely be used to and could test well on.

I feel the Tinkering School would not do well because “big ideas” do not always concern themselves with details and formalities. The aim of “big ideas” is to try new things and see what they are like, learn from the mistakes, and celebrate success. In my humble opinion, in students formative learning years, this is the best way to learn. Although the CCS school may look “good” on paper, compared with other countries, and is aligned with college and career expectations, I fear that students may learn to “beat the test” by mastering how to take “good” test, and not necessarily gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in real life.

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2014). About the standards. Retrieved from

Tinkering School. (2014). About us: Our philosophy. Retrieved from

Tulley, G. (2007, March). Gever Tulley: 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do [Video file]. Retrieved from

7 thoughts on “World Class Leaners Responses

  1. Janna- You make very interesting points. To respond to question #1, “it is through failing that we learn the best” strikes a cord with me as I have often seen failure viewed as a bad thing by administrators. Whereas I see failure as a way to problem solve and overcome. I think the current system aims for every student to fit into a particular mold and the outliers are left to fumble through the education system in hopes that they will succeed despite the system.

  2. I agree with your assessment of the Tinkering School and testing. The students would find traditional assessment very difficult. Also, students at the Tinkering School may have gaps in their understanding in some topics because of the format of the school. It is an excellent summer camp school but I believe that it would not be a successful year long school. Subjects like history, biology, and chemistry would not fit into the school’s format well. It is great for innovation, engineering, and physics because these topics are very hands on and controllable. And, you have to consider the parents if their student don’t get the scores on tests like the ACT or SAT that they feel their students need for college entrance and scholarships.

  3. You wrote, “Creativity cannot be taught in the classroom but it is something that can be fostered.” I am an Art teacher and I completely agree with you. Every student I see has different abilities and is at different levels. I facilitate an environment where they feel safe and excited to explore their own talents.

  4. Both countries want all students to succeed. They each have their own way of going about it. I think they both can learn something from one another about their practices to help both of them become more successful. I find it crazy on how much time students in China feel studying compared to students in America. When most of the time international students come to America to study at our universities. We must be doing something right at the college level.

  5. Regarding your responses to Blog #3, I agree with you about China being a more inflexible society. Many of the points that you brought up in your response are things that I mentioned in mine. As I read our text and composed my responses, I kept thinking about the fact that China is a communist nation whose people do not enjoy the same fundamental rights and freedoms that we have here in the United States. This is something that we too often take for granted. We can’t forget that China mandates nearly everything in society including education. The freedom that we have in the U.S. allows students spend a significant amount of time pursuing those things that they are passionate about whether it be academics, sports, music, or something else. If China were to ever give students more choice, as you mention, it would radically change what they have done to get them to where they are today. Great response, I really enjoyed reading your blog.

  6. I love that you put that Steve Jobs did not make it in our system either. I have to say that that is utterly true. Our system needs to be overhauled, but unlike their system once a child has failed here in America that does not mean they have completely failed. Our system fosters individuality and that spirit that you can go own your own business. Yay for free enterprise!

  7. Janna, you are so right that changing the education system is more about changing the cultural mindset towards learning. I listened to a podcast that said there are some Chinese schools that are trying to shift toward a school culture that fosters creativity, but many parents are scared that this type of learning won’t prepare them for tests. I think change in Chinese education is going to be difficult if you can’t get the support of parents and other teachers.

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