Int’l Benchmarking Leads to Global Homogenization of Education

Source: Chapter 1, World-Class Learners, Jun 2012

International benchmarking has effectually the result of developing a globally homogenous learning experience for all students. When the content and standards are aligned across different countries, students learn the same thing at the same time. And when professional development and pedagogy are aligned, teachers are asked to deliver the same content in the same method. When international assessments are applied, nations have even more reason to teach the same thing to their children.

Here lies the first problem of the global homogenization of learning. If all children are asked to master the same knowledge and skills, those who cost less will be much more competitive than those who cost more.  …  Thus for those in developed countries to be globally competitive, they must offer something qualitatively different, that is, something that cannot be obtained at a lower cost in developing countries. And that something is certainly not great test scores in a few subjects or the so-called basic skills, because those can be achieved in the developing countries.

Here lies the second problem of the move to prescribe knowledge and skills. If one does not know what careers are there in the future, it is difficult, if not impossible, to prescribe the knowledge and skills that will make today’s students ready for them.

Third, jobs that require routine procedure skills and knowledge are increasingly automated or sent to places where such skills and knowledge are abundant with lower cost. This is the third problem of the movement to prescribe knowledge and skills for all schools, because what they are prescribing is not necessarily what is needed.

Fourth, the world our children will live in is global, not local as before. .. Thus, to be ready to live in this global world requires the knowledge and abilities to interact with people who are not born and raised in the same local community. But the core curriculum of most nations does not include an element to prepare the future generations to live in this globalized world and interact with people from different cultures.

Last, globalization and technological changes, while presenting tremendous challenges, bring vast opportunities. Globalization, for example, vastly expands the pool of potential customers for products and services. … But the traditional paradigm, by forcing children to master the same curriculum, essentially discriminates against talents that are not consistent with the prescribed knowledge and skills. Students who are otherwise talented but do not do well in the prescribed subjects are often sent to spend more time on the core subjects, retained for another grade, or deprived of the opportunity to develop their talents in other ways.

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