THE BLOG
09/29/2016 05:41 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Around the World in 30 Days: September 2016

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C. M. Rubin's Global Education Report

Why does character education matter? And why do so many believe its role in schools is more important than ever? What does it mean to be a great Principal? How well do you know the United Nations? What do millennials think about global leadership? What would Howard Gardner do if he was Secretary of Education? What does Randi Weingarten believe will be the legacy of Race to the Top and Barack Obama's other education initiatives? Just some of the questions we were most curious about this month.

In a survey done by BIAC, an organization that advises the OECD and represents 50 employer organizations from around the world, 80% of the respondents termed character as becoming more important. In What Character (Part 3 of my 5 part series of interviews with Charles Fadel), he contends that once upon a time character education was "the prerogative of parents/families, governments, and religious institutions, but over time all of these have weakened, and so now schools are the best place where this education can take place." Mindfulness, curiosity, courage, resilience, ethics and leadership represent "six essential character qualities within which one can find all the 200+ words that people are using to describe character qualities."

A recent OECD report indicates that trust in leadership is decreasing across OECD countries. Civic and social engagement is declining and fewer people are engaged in their democracies. Our Millennial Bloggers share their global perspectives on the high cost of distrust in leadership. "In a world where trust is low, having a trusted organization and a high-trust work culture means you'll have a bank full of the ultimate currency - in good times and bad," writes Shay Wright in New Zealand, who steps us through a strategy his organization promotes - a concept called 'brave conversations'. "Sharing a common vision can be a powerful unifier when it comes to building trust and respect," adds Bonnie Chiu, who explains how her model for Lensational nurtures "an ownership mentality and promotes intrapreneurship" among her team. "A country as beautiful as mine deserves a 'leadership' it can trust," writes Alusine Barrie, who shares his personal experiences related to why almost 13,500 of his Sierra Leone countrymen contracted the Ebola virus, and nearly 4,000 lost their lives.

Some time early next year, a new President may appoint a new Secretary of Education. Our popular Education Debate series returned this US Election year, featuring Diane Ravitch, Howard Gardner, Randi Weingarten, Julia Freeland Fisher, Andy Hargreaves and Charles Fadel. And if Howard Gardner were Secretary of Education, he tells me he would use the platform "to call attention to positive as well as negative examples; to cheerlead for promising initiatives; and, whenever possible, to demonstrate by example the kind of education that I favor, and the kind of society that I hope we can achieve." On the question of character development, Gardner notes that "good persons, good workers, and good citizens is the responsibility of many" but that "the school is the first model of a community and it can be a very powerful one. We need to ensure that young people are raised in educational communities that they admire and that they will seek to emulate or re-create for the rest of their lives."

In my interview with Randi Weingarten, she notes Obama and Secretary Duncan "acknowledged late in the administration that "there are too many tests that take up too much time." In hindsight, she reflects, "we would like to have seen a greater emphasis on our biggest challenges - funding inequity, segregation, the effects of poverty. We would have welcomed a major expansion of high-quality early childhood education, and greater support for career and technical education and community schools." Weingarten adds that the administration has shown support for diversity in the teaching corps, and is more focused on "the whole child and the need for a well-rounded education."

The OECD's new report, School Leadership for Learning: Insights from Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013, specifically looks at different approaches to school leadership and its impact on professional learning communities and on the learning environment in schools. In my interview about the report with Deputy Director of Education and Skills, Montserrat Gomendio, she notes that new competencies "such as team work, innovation and creativity are becoming increasingly important. The leaders of this major transformation can only be the principals and the teachers themselves, but principals need to be able to show the way in this uncertain world. Thus, their responsibility is greater than ever."

Is the role of the United Nations changing? I asked UN expert, author and policy advisor, Laurence Peters. "The UN increasingly is the vehicle the world must rely on to help create the political framework that will allow us to move in a sustainable direction," he emphasized.

Our Global Teacher Bloggers are pioneers and innovators in fields such as technology integration, mathematics coaching, special needs education, science instruction, and gender equity. These teachers empower and enrich the lives of young people from nearly every background imaginable. They shared their answers to our question: How can we maximize the value of art and music in education and how can it be blended with more traditional subjects? "Cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and driverless vehicles are already creating a world where job unavailability is becoming common for millions. This makes a creative mindset more important than ever," says Richard Wells. "We are constantly monitoring students' level of motivation and we have discovered that student engagement rises in every subject if the tasks and outcomes are meaningful and useful for them," notes Dana Narvaisa, who shares the blended work that Cesis New Primary school is producing in this area.

Our thanks once again to all our amazing teachers, millennials, contributors and supporters around the world.

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(Photos are courtesy of CMRubinWorld)

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C. M. Rubin

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.
The Global Search for Education Community Page

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.