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ISTE Keynote #2

June 26, 2012

Good morning everyone! Today is going to be a GREAT day! We’re sitting in the front half of the auditorium, and got to listen to an incredible violinist! It was awesome!

They’re still bringing people in, but we’ve got excellent seats today!


Randy, Treva, and I are chatting while we wait to start!



Music and intensity is building while we await the grand entrance! Someone has done a fantastic job of making the video previews, and video clips that are being used to start the morning.

Don Knezek has been on the video with lots of commentary about NETS, ISTE, and all kinds of stuff. We’re going to miss Don, he has been a fantastic champion for ISTE!

Don Knezek welcomed the group! Don is a fantastic speaker, and is encouraging teachers and educators in the room and around the world who are coming in via video. Don shared the five most important messages he’s learned over the years.


  1. World-class teachers and school principals are the most critical upstream inputs to a world-class education system.
  2. Education policy is important, but education policy backed by leadership and incentive funding is a game changer
  3. Accountability based on the needs of previous generations does not result in an education system that prepares learners for their futures
  4. The most important lessons to be learned today are not only inside the four walls of our classrooms.
  5. When organizations collaborate, kids win.

Don introduced Anita McNear, and played a video with a major tribute to Anita, who is pretty much responsible for ISTE’s conference program over the years. Very well done ISTE, very well done! Good job recognizing such an important pillar, working in the background. Anita is retiring this year.

Dr. Yong Zhau from University of Oregon, Global, Creative, and Entrepreneurial: Defining High Quality Education.
Presidential Chair and Associate Dean
Video of the keynote can be found here


Todd’s Summary: There are extensive notes below, but my quick synopsis of Dr. Zhau’s presentation is this: We are using test scores to determine the value of our education system and compare to others. Yet the countries with the highest test scores have the lowest productivity. Dr. Zhau suggests that the higher the test scores and standards, the lower the creativity and entrepreneurship. So we should be finding ways to encourage students to be more creative, more entrepreneurial, which will make them more successful.

Education reform is interesting, but you have to know where you’re going with it, and what you want to do at the end! Destination is absolutely important. Dr. Zhau reminded us of the stone heads on Easter Island, and how people put aside all other responsibilities, farming, animals, everything, to build the family stone heads. But was the destination worth it?

Dr. Zhau was talking about testing, and how the U.S. and many other countries are moving to standards assessments, and we are now lost in terms of “What’s the purpose of education?” In the U.S. we’re in a race to the top, but the top of what?

All standards movements are trying to measure students and teachers.

Test scores = New God in Education – we’re trying to tie test scores to teacher evaluation, and student measurement.

Maybe Test Scores are just like giant stone heads, look cool, they’re seductive, but they don’t really lead to better education.

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree… It will spend it’s whole life thinking it’s stupid.” – Albert Einstein <;;- slides

New book: World Class Learners – Yong Zhao

Why Didn’t China Have a Big Party? The 2009 PISA Results (largest international academic horse race). It has become the gold standard of educational quality. Like the Easter Island stone heads. China won in all three categories (Math, Science, Reading), and Obama called it this generation’s “Sputnik” moment.

If you take Finland out of the PISA results, the top countries are all Asian – therefore because they use chopsticks, they score the highest…;)

Book: Surpassing Shanghai – Marc Tucker – America is not doing well, because they’ve lowered their goals to surpass Shanghai.

This should not be the ceiling, rather it should be the floor!

Grattan Institute report shows Australian performance has slipped since 2000, with maths students now more than two years behind children in Shanghai and one to two years behind children in Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.


Qian Xuesheng: “Why doesn’t China have great talents?”
Wen Jiabao: “China must have entreprenuers like Steve Jobs”
Kai-fu Lee: The next Apple or Google will appear, but not likely from China

Statistically China should be doing better, but they are now saying that their education system has stifled their potential to achieve.

Why Aren’t the Model Minority Happy?

Elephant vs. Doctor: Aspirations

US has had bad history of test takers since 1960’s. Why is America still here? It’s still doing fine.

Who made the US the smartest and most prosperous economy?

It’s a paradox, best education system in China, but worst productivity. Worst in US, but doing best? Is China a real dragon or a paper tiger?

Possible Explanations

PISA scores appear to have a negative correlation with entrepreneurial activities. In Education, it seems that we can’t have high scores and high entrepreneurial skills.

Test scores Asian Countries are higher, USA is lower.
Confidence: USA scores high, Asian Countries score low
Mathematically incompetent, but confident.

Countries that have higher math scores, have lower confidence.

Tom Loveless (2006): How Well are American Students Learning

So by pushing test scores, are we damaging confidence?

Perhaps our kids are too happy to do well in tests. They don’t know how bad they are. So we have to make our kids more miserable???!!!

So they need to be humble and modest in order to improve test scores??!!!

But most teachers care more about children than math. Somehow this isn’t considered important.

Lady Gaga – she is successful, brilliant, talented. Can any organization create a Lady Gaga curriculum? Common Core says if you follow this curriculum, you will be successful. Huh?

More recommended books:
Day of Empire by Amy Chua
The Rise of the Creative Class – Richard Florida

What is common? Tolerance.

Diversity of talents

Creativity cannot be taught, but can be killed. American schools are less successful at killing creativity.

Choice. Where are the nations different? Why do we go after test scores, when others don’t?

The Ultimate Explanation:

Does the gap matter?

The Future: The Age of Globalization. – The stone age did not end because they ran out of stones.

Creativity and Innovation are key. We don’t want to be good, we need to be GREAT!

Business entrepreneurs
Social entrepreneurs
Policy entrepreneurs

You don’t wait for someone to create a job for you, you create a job for yourself.

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education” – Albert Einstein

We’re trying to fix a 1960’s horse wagon, that won’t take us to the moon.

If Lady Gaga is useful – everyone can be useful.

Curriculum should follow the child. Education is not about fixing someone’s deficit, it’s about enhancing their strengths.

Schooling must be product based learning, and not just stuff for teachers. Students should not be just consumers.

Other countries are not our competitors, they are our collaborators, business partners.

A real good education is one that helps every individual child to maximize their potential.


From → ATLE

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