Learners Without Borders Provides Pathways For All Students

Having been inspired by Dr. Yong Zhao’s Reach for Greatness: Personalizable Education for All Children, I greatly anticipated the release of his most recent book, Learners Without Borders: New Learning Pathways for All Students, in which Dr. Zhao, a professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas and at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education in Australia, calls for a change in education that focuses on what really matters—our students and their future.

To those of us working to expand understanding and support for twice-exceptional and cognitively diverse learners, Zhao’s analysis of the challenges our education system faces today and the steps required to transform it align almost perfectly with our experiences. He calls for supporting students’ “jagged profiles;” talent development, strengths-based strategies, authentic learning, problem-based learning, enrichment, and more. He provides  practices to inspire those of us in the 2e field to effectively make change by uniting with thoughtful allies.

Learners Without Borders begins with an overview of Zhao’s premise: Education reforms over the past 40 years have failed primarily because they haven’t put students at the center. Instead, education policy has tended to treat  students as just the “recipients” of intended changes. Our  current system has too many “borders” that hem in our students and educators. If we can redefine these borders (curriculum, teacher, classroom, age, graduation), then we can put students at the center. “[Students]  have their own passions and interests, strengths and weaknesses, and personal contexts,” writes Zhao. “Unless they are involved as change makers and can make schooling work for them, it is unlikely that scho...


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About Callie Turk

Callie Turk co-founded and leads REEL (Resilience and Engagement for Every Learner), an advocacy group building bridges between twice-exceptional learners, their parents, and educators in Silicon Valley. In this work, she draws on her 15-plus year career working with ed tech companies and school districts at the cutting edge of educator and professional learning. Callie received her MBA from Stanford University and BS from Miami University (Ohio). She can be reached at [email protected]