Judges’ Award Winner ‘World Class Learners’ Opens New Discussions on Education Reform

Recipient of the 2013 Judges’ Award, World Class Learners by Dr. Yong Zhao makes the case for fostering creativity and entrepreneurship in students to better prepare them to positively and innovatively contribute in a global society. In this profile Corwin Executive Editor Arnis E. Burvikovs discusses the vision and success for this best-selling edition.

The idea and vision behind World Class Learners  . . .

World Class Learners is for all educators, but particularly leaders in schools, districts, and state offices. The approach is to carefully interpret data and research, especially when that information contradicts current policy approaches. The inspiration for the book came from hearing Dr. Yong Zhao speak about the need for student entrepreneurship and freedom of thought rather than more standardization and testing. One conversation led to another and eventually we settled on a vision for a book that would prize what works currently in the existing educational system, challenge current mind frames, and offer large scale reform ideas. An example is our preoccupation with raising PISA Scores when our population of test takers is often radically different than Singapore, for instance, and when teaching to take tests such as PISA may well be counter-productive to today’s workplace and life challenges.

Product development timeline and team . . .

This book was written and produced in about one-year’s time. Our pressure point centered on the fact that so much of education policy is moving quickly in the direction of testing and standardization. Both Dr. Zhao and Corwin wanted to offer an original take on the possibilities within education while it was still relevant to those discussions. Aside from the author and myself, the main players at Corwin in producing this book were: Development Editor Desiree Bartlett; Production Editor Cassandra Seibel; and Marketing Manager Katie Stoddard.

On feedback regarding World Class Learners and Dr. Zhao’s future plans . . .

It has been gratifying to hear great feedback about this book. It has won several awards and has sold very well. A number of users have reached out to us to praise the message, the research, and the writing style. A number of districts and even state organizations have followed up to develop workshops and speaking engagements with the author around the book.

World Class Learners lists three elements that need to be stressed for a world-class educational system: curriculum, pedagogy, and context. While World Class Learners presents arguments for a vision of education and suggests a direction of change, it does not focus on strategies and ideas for education leaders, teachers, and other education practitioners to implement the vision and effect the changes at the ground level in schools and districts. Dr. Zhao is now working on a three book series to expand the elements of a world-class education to cultivate globally competent, creative, and entrepreneurial talents with practical ideas, examples, and resources that correlate closely to 21st century demands for students with technical skills, creativity, decision-making capacity, and great communication skills.

What makes World Class Learners unique and successful . . .

World Class Learners has a great message that runs contrary to many media driven and popular notions about standardization, educational weakness on the part of the U.S., and our need to personalize learning for our students to build on each individual’s unique strengths. The book offers readers a clear rationale and a step-by-step analysis for why education should be personalized to take advantage of global opportunities, challenges current thinking, and offers large-scale systemic solutions. The author is a fantastic advocate for this book and has worked tirelessly to present it at conferences and educational meetings all over the world.

What winning the Judges’ Award means . . . 

This is a huge honor for Corwin and Dr. Zhao, and we feel it helps validate this book’s direction of offering challenging insight into our educational system.

Charline Maher, Corwin’s Marketing Communications Manager, summarized the company’s vision: “[We are] continuing our tradition of publishing high-quality professional books for K-12 educators while we simultaneously push the boundaries of what constitutes ‘publishing’ in the digital age and explore innovative ways to provide practical, research-based content to help educators do their work better.”

Read more about World Class Learners.