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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2013
Strong opening chapters about key skills for learning in a world where content is readily available but rest of the book remains too charter school focused to offer a truly equitable way forward. Seems strange considering the author's admiration for the Finnish model. A worthwhile read with a narrow evidence base to justify what are presumably universal education goals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2013
Very nice book about school incapacity to promote authorial learning, research- and elaboration-based, using other research methods (qualitative, dialogic, reconstructive, discourse...) with great mastery. He cultivates very comprehensive learning vision (one of the best I ever found in the literature), whose center are research and elaboration. He draws, however, too much from market arguments, although he recognizes that critical thinking involves to critique capitalist system...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2013
The material of this book is timeless and very informative, no matter what side of the debate your personal preference happen to be placed. The Kindle download, however, was a bit of a situation. I needed to download the product three times. Usually this doesn't happen. I have order my school text books and pleasure reading from the Kindle store for the last three years and this is the first incident.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2013
I'm from Russia and surprisingly this book was never released in my country. A good read for any person interested in education problems
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The fundamental premise of this book is that the world has changed and all students need the following 7 news skills for college, career, and citizenship:
1.Critical Thinking and problem solving
2. Collaboration (incl. emotional intelligence)
3. Agility and adaptability
4. Initiative and 'entrepreneurialism'
5. Effective oral and written communication
6. Accessing and analyzing information
7. Curiosity and imagination

I feel these 7 have some degree of overlap and can be further reduced to the 4Cs:
1. Critical thinking (incl. problem solving, analytical thinking, information synthesis, asking questions)
2. Collaboration (incl. emotional intelligence, service & social responsibility, ethics, listening, influence, delegation, cultural sensitivity)
3. Communication (oral & written that is concise, focused, and passionate)
4. Creativity (incl. 'entrepreneurialism', curiosity, achievement orientation, self-starting action that drives results, adaptability, goal setting, time management)

Techniques for improving education from the book include the following:
1. Taking learning walks to observe both instruction and (especially) students demonstrating new skills
2. Encouraging students to ask questions and teachers to answer
3. Designing group work where every student is accountable
4. Do not teach to the test with rote memorization and formulaic writing. Instead "develop higher-quality, open-response, competency-based tests that can be given less frequently to a representative sample of the student population
5. Train teachers by viewing and discussing videos of teaching
6. Use ACTIVE case studies with inquiry and discussion (like in business school, law school, or medical school)
7. Provide teachers with expert coaching and regular critiques
8. Hire and train the right teachers since "The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its workforce."
9. Provide teachers with professional development time (and hold them accountable for how that use it)
10. Encourage kids to explore their interests
11. Apply cohesive, cross-discipline, project-based (rather than textbook-based) learning
12. Call out, with attribution, examples of great work. Show, anonymously, examples of deficient work (from other classes)
13. Require students to do internships (after their junior year)
14. Pair veteran and new teachers and ensure they meet regularly
15. Maintain continuous improvement by (a) conducting focus groups with employers to understand critical skills and skill gaps (b) funding education R&D
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on March 4, 2013
I am thoroughly enjoying digging deeper into this very well written book. My own background is somewhat similar to Mr. Wagner's. I was an electronics engineer and my career path developed in the following sequence: Design engineer (RF and microwave), Marketing Manager, Applications Engineer, Consultant, and Electronics Instructor at a Technical College.

Mr. Wagner describes seven "Survival Skills" required for students to succeed. When I teach electronics I normally include stories involving these skills in my lectures. Here are some of them:

1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. Early in my career I looked for mentors and then became one. A key to long term success is a willingness to change job functions, at least once every five years. In the modern world the cycle has shortened to about once every year.
2. Collaboration Across Networks and Leading By Influence. As an Applications Engineer for Tektronix (a manufacturer of test equipment) I got a lot of practice with this. I lived in Seattle, my Manager lived in Denver, my secretary was in California, and my engineering support came from Oregon and Texas.
3. Agility and Adaptability. I was making a small but steady salary when I was contacted by AT&T Wireless. They wanted me to be a Requirements Definitions Analyst for a group of software developers. I explained that software was not my field of expertise. Nevertheless they hired me and I successfully met the objectives they set for me.
4. Initiative and Entrepreneurism: I owned a Manufacturer's Sales Representative Company for seven years. I learned a lot but it was a financial disaster. I learned that I enjoyed risk, but I should use someone else's money instead of my own.
5. Oral and Written Communications: I ask my students to write a seven page report and give a 10 minute presentation about various technical topics. I frame this as a simulated job interview. The following books provide excellent ideas about making effective presentations: "Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins", by Annette Simmons, and "Getting Over Yourself", by Barbara Rocha.
6. Accessing and Analyzing Information: Early in my career I was shy about asking for help. As I matured I learned to be more proactive and discovered that I could even demand answers to my questions.
7. Curiosity and Imagination. I own three patents. One of my devices is now sitting on the surface of Mars. History's great inventions often involved mixing different disciplines. I enjoy reading about the process involved in making new inventions and have written many book reviews about this.

Mr. Wagner wrote an interesting chapter involving "Growing Up Digital". Communicating with students who expect instant gratification can be challenging. Another book that addresses this problem/opportunity is "iDisorder", by Larry Rosen.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2011
The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner has one striking message that comes across again and again. Students need to learn how to think, and our schools today (even the "best ones" based upon standardized tests) are not doing a good job of teaching them to think. He provides some compelling evidence to make his point along the way, including how bad many of the standardized tests are. In short, the book is a call to increase rigor and 21st Century learning in our classrooms today--especially at the high school level.

Some of the weaknesses of the book include Wagner's own lack of success in being a principal. He is quick to criticize local school and district reform efforts, but in his own experience, he was only a principal for two years and quit due to a lack of success. For some reason, I have a hard time paying attention to someone's passionate pleas of reform when their own efforts at the work were not successful. Seems it is easy (and vogue) for those in ivory towers to find fault and tell people how to "do it right," but those of us deep in the doing know that the ideas are the easy part. Making them happen is the real work.

I did appreciate Wagner's emphasis on taking "learning walks" as opposed to "walk throughs," and stressing the importance of having teachers watch other teachers. Another good idea. It is time to make that happen.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2010
A must read for educators who are truly interested in the future of education in our country. "Race To The Top" funding needs to be directed to states who adopt Wagner's proposals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2013
Tony like so many others has focused on just 1 or 2 of almost a dozen problems with our K-12 education system and uses just a few non typical school systems to prove his thesis.
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on September 21, 2012
We spend millions educating ourselves and our children with the expectation that this is an investment that will pay back unfortunately the education system is skewed and unless you have an understanding of how it all works you just might be pouring money down a bottomless pit.

With the recent upsurge in the issue of the 1% of the population controlling 80% of the world wealth you need all the information you can about joining that elite few.

The book gives you a better insight into why schools were setup in the first place and why a school district education manager was fired for improving school grades in Detroit.

After reading the book I realised why the Kenyan government has no qualms converting tertiary colleges into universities
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