Around the World in 30 Days

05/28/2015 10:12 am ET | Updated May 27, 2016


Randi Weingarten, Cathy Rubin, Sandra Jackson-Dumont at the Oppi Festival in New York City

C. M. Rubin's Global Education Report

In May, I continued my conversations with thought leaders from China to New York who sketched out for me the conflicting overlaps between creativity, innovation, reform and testing, and shared their efforts to create coalescence between them. Meanwhile, my Top 12 Global Teacher Bloggers contributed some much-needed tips on one of the hottest topics for this time of the school calendar year, i.e. combating stress in the classroom.

According to the International Labor Organization, an agency of the UN, global unemployment stood at 201 million people in 2014, 1.2 million higher than in 2013, and that number is expected to rise to 212 million by 2019. The current worldwide unemployment rate among 15 to 24 year olds of 13 percent, which is also expected to increase, is almost 3 times higher than the overall unemployment rate. A mismatch of skills is believed to be a major factor.

"How do we best prepare students for the dramatic socio-economic demands of a digital world in a global age?" In the hope of finding answers to this question, I helped organize the Oppi Festival at Leman High School in New York City. Full of innovation and debate, the festival's timely themes of Gender: It Matters, Global Collaboration, and Living: The Arts, allowed all its world-renowned participants to reflect deeply in a down-to-earth atmosphere on the future of learning. I sincerely hope there will be many more festivals like Oppi in cities all over the world. As to my question about preparing young people for the future, I greatly enjoyed the many perspectives shared, but especially the one from Andy Hargreaves: "by developing values that reconnect effort with reward; by creating the social capital of citizenship as well as the individual capital of entrepreneurship; and by making play and creativity the entitlement of all children."

In Shanghai, I had the pleasure of meeting with Xu Jinjie, (Lecturer at Shanghai Normal University) and Zhu Xiaohu (PHD Candidate Assistant Professor - Institute for Basic Education Research, Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences) to discuss some of the ways China is combining the best of tradition with innovation. Since Shanghai was top of the charts on the PISA 2009 exam, it has been a worldwide destination for educators. Although exams are deeply rooted in their culture, they are opening up to reform and creativity: "We want to let students have time to explore their own interests and to make their own choices in learning, and so we give them chances to do that." Zhu Xiaohu comments. Zhu discussed a pilot for a new student achievement assessment, which will be more about producing student portfolios.

On route to the Education Fast Forward 13 Conference in Norway, it was also a great pleasure to connect with writer and teacher Howard Rheingold, a true Internet pioneer, who coined the term "virtual communities" in the 1980s. His long history with the web means that he has some amazing context to provide to the problems of the present, a time in which "anybody can ask any question anywhere and get thousands of answers within seconds." However, Howard warns, that this information era requires that we do a lot of extra thinking work to process what information is good and bad. It requires the development of a skill he calls: "crap detection." "The lack of control of quality of information puts the burden on the consumer of information. But the traps and distractions aren't aspects of the technology so much as they are aspects of know-how -- it's a literacy crisis, not entirely a technology crisis."

Last but not least - in light of the new AFT and Badass Teachers study of US teachers, i.e. the Quality of Work Life Survey, I asked my Top Global Teacher Bloggers, "What are the quick ways to combat teacher stress in a classroom?" The answers included short-term solutions to put the teacher at ease, including taking breaks, exercising, and celebrating success, and teacher Craig Kemp's suggestion that one cultivate a sense of humor. Richard Wells, on the other hand, recommended long-term strategies, such as fostering a learning environment that encourages confident students. He gives some helpful ways to approach this including setting manageable personal goals for each student.

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C. M. Rubin

(Photo is courtesy of Susan Cook)

Join me and globally renowned thought leaders including Sir Michael Barber (UK), Dr. Michael Block (U.S.), Dr. Leon Botstein (U.S.), Professor Clay Christensen (U.S.), Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond (U.S.), Dr. MadhavChavan (India), Professor Michael Fullan (Canada), Professor Howard Gardner (U.S.), Professor Andy Hargreaves (U.S.), Professor Yvonne Hellman (The Netherlands), Professor Kristin Helstad (Norway), Jean Hendrickson (U.S.), Professor Rose Hipkins (New Zealand), Professor Cornelia Hoogland (Canada), Honourable Jeff Johnson (Canada), Mme. Chantal Kaufmann (Belgium), Dr. EijaKauppinen (Finland), State Secretary TapioKosunen (Finland), Professor Dominique Lafontaine (Belgium), Professor Hugh Lauder (UK), Lord Ken Macdonald (UK), Professor Geoff Masters (Australia), Professor Barry McGaw (Australia), Shiv Nadar (India), Professor R. Natarajan (India), Dr. Pak Tee Ng (Singapore), Dr. Denise Pope (US), Sridhar Rajagopalan (India), Dr. Diane Ravitch (U.S.), Richard Wilson Riley (U.S.), Sir Ken Robinson (UK), Professor Pasi Sahlberg (Finland), Professor Manabu Sato (Japan), Andreas Schleicher (PISA, OECD), Dr. Anthony Seldon (UK), Dr. David Shaffer (U.S.), Dr. Kirsten Sivesind (Norway), Chancellor Stephen Spahn (U.S.), Yves Theze (LyceeFrancais U.S.), Professor Charles Ungerleider (Canada), Professor Tony Wagner (U.S.), Sir David Watson (UK), Professor Dylan Wiliam (UK), Dr. Mark Wormald (UK), Professor Theo Wubbels (The Netherlands), Professor Michael Young (UK), and Professor Minxuan Zhang (China) as they explore the big picture education questions that all nations face today.
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C. M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, "The Global Search for Education" and "How Will We Read?" She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland, is the publisher of CMRubinWorld, and is a Disruptor Foundation Fellow.