A New Addition to My PLN

I just found an education blogger to add to my personal learning network. Yong Zhao was the opening keynote speaker for the Wisconsin School Leadership Academy this week, a conference that I will be closing tomorrow. I checked out the conference site just before boarding the plane in Burlington, VT and then linked over to his site and blog, saving a number of his most recent entries to Instapaper for read during the flight.

The bad news is that I’m completely changing my closing address. I’d be pretty much delivering the same message with a different accent and without his academic authority. The good news is finding a new teacher.

Even though we have spoken at the same conference on several occasions, I’ve only seen him present once. He was clear in his presentation, compelling, and very good at something that only a few keynoters do well, turning his message into a story — complete with surprise ending. But his blog hammers through to some of the fundamental reasons why the Obama Administration’s approach to education reform is wrong and why our current Secretary of Education should be replaced.

One of the pieces that caught my eye was A Pretense of Science and Objectivity: Data and Race to the Top, where he does not criticize data, but our worship of it’s collection and use as what’s going to save education in America.

I’ve written about data-god on several occasions and agree with Yong that good data can be a good thing. But the government’s monotheistic approach devalues the rich and telling data that is exchanged during typical learning conversations that happen in the classroom everyday and effectively hobbles the teacher’s role in working these data exchanges with wisdom, passion, creativity, and confidence. This is the greatest loss and most costly to our children — the loss of our confidence.

I’ll leave the rest to you, and look forward to reading more from Yong Zhao.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Access Rd,Chicago,United States

5 thoughts on “A New Addition to My PLN”

  1. I saw him speak a few weeks ago. I loved his example of the beer deficit. When he was in graduate school, he could not drink as many beers as his classmates. He compared this to many of the other reported deficits to help us understand that just because something is reported as a deficit does not mean that that is a problem.

  2. Hi

    My name is Brian Asselin and I am a recent graduate from the teachers college program at the University of Ottawa. Towards the end of school we, the students, are reminded how fortunate we are to have principles, administration, and teachers who help inspire students everyday. While in teachers college I realized how fortunate I have been to have had such great teachers in my life that have helped shape the person I am today. I wanted to say thank you to all those who go beyond the daily job requirements so I co-wrote a song entitled “You Have Made A Difference”. I would really appreciate it if you would take a couple minutes to listen to the song and if you felt so, share it with your staff.

    Thanks so much in advance
    Brian Asselin

    Here is the link


  3. Speaking of Wisconsin…

    You may have seen this already, but if not, check out how the Southeastern Wisconsin Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) No. 1 (one of 12 state regional service agencies) is approaching “transformation” in their district.

    Here’s a link to a story which contains links to the actual documents:


  4. I’m surprised that you didn’t have Zhao on your radar earlier. Do you recall presenting in Nashua in the fall of ’08? Of course, not. Anyway, Zhao was one of the keynote speakers at that event. It is refreshing to hear a foreign national recognize the absurdity of TIMMS. Schools are ready to change if we can just get the public to recognize that their 5th grader’s experience should not reflect their own from decades ago as well as realizing that comparing assessment results between countries is absurd. We can’t even compare results within the states!

    1. Keith,

      I just rescued your comment from my spam stack. Don’t know how that happened. I do remember Zhao at that conference and was extremely impressed. I saw him as one of the few speakers who actually tells stories. I don’t necessarily mean fables. But he brings his ideas around to a conclusion, not just randomly sharing ideas, proclamation, and web sites.

      Not sure why, but it hadn’t occurred to me that he might have a blog, or perhaps he didn’t back then.

      Error, rectified now!

      — dave —

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