A New Education Paradigm


Yong Zhao @




Last week at the World Education Leaders Conference 2015, held in Singapore I attended Yong Zhao’s master class session titled ‘Designing and developing an education for the age of globalisation’. Yong shared the ingredients of a new education paradigm and these included student autonomy, product-oriented learning, and globalized campus

He spoke about redefining excellence and the need to abandon the current mindset entrenched in the obsolete employment oriented educational paradigm. Our children are being educated to exist in an existing society that no longer exists.

Research shows that the more successful an educational system is in the traditional sense as indicated by test scores the less likely it is to cultivate entrepreneurs. Therefore the less prepared it is for a globalised society.

Student autonomy

Diversity must be treated as a strength. We must identify that we must bring more than uniqueness  and creativity because globalisation reveals that we are not as unique as we think we are. Our students must be prepared for high skilled jobs that cannot be substituted by machines. We must give our student voice and choice. Student autonomy is essential if we are to help students identify and develop their talents because middle class jobs are going and currently there is massive youth unemployment in the world.

Globalised Campus.

We must have the students create their own courses which include creativity, entrepreneurship, and global competence and provide them with opportunities to experiment with their interests, their strengths and weaknesses, and engage them in authentic work. Our children must embrace entrepreneurship. In order to do this we need a new education paradigm—entrepreneur-oriented education, instead of the current employee-oriented education. Our children will become global, creative, and entrepreneurial,

Product orientated learning

Localisation and uniqueness support the development of diverse talents.  Students must connect with a global community because small niche skills are becoming sought after skills as  we become consumers of psychological products. We need independent young thinkers who are willing to use their learning differently to create jobs and contribute positively to a globalized society. We need to think about the the skills that cannot be acquired from another. Low income jobs are growing as we move into the age of abundance and choice. We no longer have a monopoly on education. Schools are not a museum. Teachers and leaders are not curators of school learners. We need to teach our children that we must work together. Glocalisation is embracing the localised culture. Creativity is entrepreneurship. We used to prepare employees but now we must prepare entrepreneurs.

Managed versus employable

If you want to be managed, you are not employable. Simply following orders is no longer employable. Current employees mindset seldom go an extra mile. Entrepreneurs look at extra miles as opportunities and have creative minds to come up with a solution to a problem.

Schools must forget about preparing employees and embrace entrepreneur education.

3x elements for a good school are

  • What: Student Autonomy
  • How: Product oriented Learning, student driven
  • Where: The global campus

Collaboration is a misused term. We must focus on social intelligence, social network and social capital. Human to human contact is the key. We must work on group mentality rather than individualism. Take the phrase, ‘It’s good to be nice to others for your own benefits.’ Start with what the children know and then the reading and maths follows. Have the students create courses for each other. Learning is a human activity so teachers will always be needed. Schools must provide opportunities for student voice, choice and personalised support and lets get the learning right first for adults. Lets create a sense of research and professional development because this builds trust between members.

If the outcome measured is only the test scores, then the process is ineffective.

Project Based Learning is not as effective as Product-oriented learning to test learning. Does the work we do produces authentic learning? The passion can drive the motivation.

We must ask the question, Has the student produced anything that matters to them or to someone else?

We must build resilience, empathy and the ability to overcome hurdles.

Learn about others, then learn with others and learn for others.

I got a lot out of the session but in particular the connections I made with other members of the group. I especially liked the discussion between the sessions.

Overall I think that our students need to connect with a global community in order to  achieve global prosperity. Our children must develop the knowledge and skills to live and work across cultural and national borders as global citizens in the global village.

My take aways from Yong’s session

1) Let us redefine excellence in our schools and not limit this to test scores.

2) Let us provide opportunities for our children to take part in global activities with children from other countries.

3)Let us allow our children to choose what they want to learn. For example do not limit their reading to their levels.

4) Let us create a sense of research and professional development within our school.