The Global Achievement Gap

February 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my current endeavors is to figure out the goals of education. Yesterday, I finished reading The Global Achievement Gap, by Tony Wagner.

While I am always a little put-off by lists of skills or what seems to be the attempt to create a new buzz word, I found Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills to be a useful way to think about what every person should gain through education. I was reminded of Howard Gardiner’s Five Minds for the Future (which I intend to read again). Wagner is a little less abstract about the goals of education than Gardiner, but I think the gist is the same.

All this being said, I found parts of this book inspiring. I love the examples Wagner gives of new ways to organize schools, highlighting project-based learning. I also found aspects of the book unsettling. The examples Wagner cites come exclusively from charter/non-public schools. Wagner explains that his examples are “scalable” for all schools, since none of the charters has an operating budget larger than the average public school. However, he then goes on to say that one of the reason the teachers in these sample schools are effective is because they have only one-year contracts. I find it hard to believe that these one-year contracts have more impact on the quality of teaching than training, vision, mentoring and a supportive environment.

The Global Achievement Gap is available in the Curriculum Library.

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