HOLYOKE, MA – Dr. Yong Zhao, an international speaker and expert, delivered the keynote address at the Technology in Education (TiE2014) conference in Holyoke, MA on Tuesday morning, January 14th. Zhao spoke to a packed audience of over 300 educators from around the state about how new technologies are a critical tool that teachers will need in order to revolutionize education.
The TiE2014 Conference is hosted by the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton; in partnership with MassCUE, a non-profit dedicated to supporting K-12 instructional technology.
Zhao argued that the current educational system does not prepare children to succeed in the post-industrial era. A major and vocal critic of the Common Core curriculum, he said the nationally standardized curriculum “homogenizes education” and prevents teachers from supporting the creative talents of students.
America’s educational leaders have set college readiness as a gold standard, he said, even though a college degree is no longer a guarantor of success.
According to Zhao, over half of all college graduates are mismatched in jobs that do not require a post-secondary education. With a heavy debt burden and few skills that enable them to compete in the global marketplace many young graduates end up “in their parents’ basement.”
Automation and the proliferation of the global economy has reduced the need for many jobs as they are outsourced or replaced by technological solutions; but in return, these trends have given value to many new talents.
Middle class jobs in the past relied more on an employee’s ability to remember and articulate information than on creativity. But creative, entrepreneurial and other undervalued talents are exactly the skills American students will need to develop if they are to thrive in the years ahead.
As has always been the case, Zhao said, new technology is creating a new economy. To foresee what skills will be deemed valuable in years to come, we must look to technology, which predicts the shape of future careers.
He added that schools that nurture creative and entrepreneurial talents will encourage students to create useful products. New educational technologies will help educators to individualize instruction, which is essential to giving students the room to grow.
Amherst Elementary Schools Librarian Susan McQuaid said she found Zhao to be inspiring and affirming as “he encouraged teachers to be true to what we already know and why we became teachers in the first place,” she said. “In the face of overwhelming pressure to cover a homogenized curriculum, we have to be really bold and sometimes we feel alone, but we know kids need the time and space to create, to experiment, to wonder and fail. And if we don’t use technology for that purpose, we are losing something very important.”
Only a major shift in the way our country approaches education will “nurture a diversity of creative talents of our children” and get them out of their parents’ basement after they complete their schooling, Zhao said.
For more information about the TiE2014 conference visit:_collaborative.org/tie2014
For more information about Dr. Zhao visit:_zhaolearning.com