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Reach for Greatness


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments About the Author Introduction: Stop Looking at My Bad Leg Chapter 1: The Ambitious Pursuit of Mediocrity: How Education Curtails Children's Potential for Greatness Chapter 2: All Children Are Above the Average: The Potential for Greatness Chapter 3: A Musician Must Make Music: The Need to Be Great Chapter 4: Take Control: Personalizable Education for Greatness Chapter 5: Trust Me: Realizing Personalizable Education References Index

About the Author

Yong Zhao currently serves as the Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon, where he is also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership. He is also a professorial fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy, Victoria University. His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He has published over 100 articles and 20 books, including Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization and World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. He is a recipient of the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association and was named one of the 2012 10 most influential people in educational technology by the Tech & Learn Magazine. He is an elected fellow of the International Academy for Education. His latest book World Class Learners has won several awards including the Society of Professors of Education Book Award (2013), Association of Education Publishers' (AEP) Judges' Award and Distinguished Achievement Award in Education Leadership(2013). See flyers for Zhao's books Never Send a Human to Do a Machine's Job and the World Class Learners bundle.


Yong Zhao again provokes and challenges our thinking by sounding a call to immediate action. Our education system must fundamentally change to meet the needs of our children. With insightful personal stories and penetrating analysis of our current education system, Zhao, at once challenging, provocative, and optimistic, shows us that personalizable education models are the way to transform our education system from one that supports mediocrity to one which magnifies the passions and talents of each student.

-- Rod Allen, Superintendent

A bold and compelling call for a wholesale shift in our education priorities. With powerful stories and examples, Dr. Zhao lays out an aspirational goal for our schools: empower each child to create a distinctive path to greatness by reinforcing strengths and unleashing passions. Read this, and you'll be inspired!

-- Ted Dintersmith, Executive Producer

Reach for Greatness is a must-read for the truly professional educator today. Common sense and expert practice are hard to find. Yong Zhao brings insight and intelligence in arguing for a dramatic shift of thinking about schooling that is fit for today's world. This book helps give shape to a robust narrative sorely needed for every student.

-- Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools

Are you keen for the real depth and substance of an education that helps all students to reach their full potential but tired of empty promises for "personalized learning"? If so, Yong Zhao's Reaching for Greatness is the book for you! With vivid examples and carefully scaffolded argumentation, Zhao shows how what he calls "personalizable education" offers an exciting and practical future for all of our students truly to become great. Zhao's writing is so full of whimsy and humor that you can't wait to see what this wonderful alchemist of educational change is going to say next. Best of all, this gem of a book is one that not only all teachers, but also a rising generation of students, will cherish.

-- Dennis Shirley, Professor
Reading a book by Yong Zhao is always an educational awakening! In Reach for Greatness, Zhao makes it clear that students are the potential for greatness within schools, not a problem our educational system needs to fix. This book challenges educators to re-examine the true purpose of education and commit to supporting students' passions and cultivating their strengths. Personalizable education occurs when students are in the driver's seat-their voices need to be heard, valued, and acted upon. Thanks to Yong, I am more determined than ever to ensure that students are not just along for the ride. -- Russell J. Quaglia, Author
Yong Zhao, ever the engaging education contrarian, delivers a compelling read that systematically outlines how to break away from educational systems that narrow, dictate, and sort learners, and readjust to focus on students' unique skills, needs, and passions. It brings the role of education - in society and for the individual - to the forefront and, in doing so, has the reader reappraise its purpose. Moving beyond just a recommendation of personalization, Yong promotes the idea of education personalized by, not for, the leaner. -- Sean Slade, Senior Director of Global Outreach

Yong Zhao pulls us from our narrow view of what education is and reminds us what it needs to be. Personalized education (as opposed to the ubiquitous and limited notion of personalized learning) is essential for recognizing and cultivating the diverse strengths of our students for their own good and the good of society. Poignant stories from Yong's global travels to schools make the research in this call to action relatable and accessible for all educational stakeholders. This is an important read!

-- Emily McCarren, Academy Principal

In Reach for Greatness, Yong Zhao makes the urgent case for empowering every young person to recognize their strengths, realize their talents, and follow their passions. Furthermore, his idea of empowerment is centered on the young person taking control of their own learning - a critical shift from the dominant model in which education is done to the student. Clear, compelling, evidence-based, and practical, this is an important book.

-- Ross Hall, Director of Education; Founder

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