The New Virtual Knowledge
- While it is not totally clear what should be taught, Zhao offers some guidelines. He believes that schools should offer a comprehensive, balanced curriculum that includes opportunities for students to explore and develop both left and right brain thinking. They should also help children develop a global awareness, an appreciation for differences, an understanding and an ability to interact with the digital world, and the knowledge to develop a healthy mind and body. Schools must also allow children to study what interests them, what they are passionate about, and what they are good at. We avoid developing skills that are available at a cheaper price elsewhere or those that can be done by machines. Creativity, high-level cognitive skills, and emotional intelligence are also important.
- Zhao believes that our schools need to promote these two important competencies rather than set them off to the side in order to prepare students for tests. Since cultures are learned by people who live in them, they are hard to explain and teach. You can’t simply tell someone, they need to experience it. Foreign language teaching can be an avenue for understanding cultures. As for digital competency, we need to teach how to live in, make a living in, and shape the virtual world. American schools are well equipped to do this. It would be unwise to abandon this advantage and focus on teaching things that do not take advantage of this asset.
- Zhao offers suggestions as to how schools can improve. In order to become more global and to better understand other cultures they can bring in foreign exchange students and teachers so that the school has a more real diversity. They can also offer online courses so that the curriculum can be more diverse. The internet can also allow contact and virtual visits to expand the school’s horizon. Since many valuable skills, knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and perspectives do not have widely accepted standardized tests, schools need to expand the way they access student learning.
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