The Surprising Life Story of Yong Zhao

Discover Yong Zhao’s journey from his impoverished childhood in a rural village in China during Mao’s Cultural Revolution when he was too small and scrawny to plow the fields with a water Buffalo, so he was allowed to go to school instead. Today he is a Chinese American scholar.

Yong has written some 30 books, which education historian Diane Ravitch once said were “saturated with remarkable scholarship and learning,” and he has done extensive work in creating schools that promote global competence and language-learning computer games.

Diane Ravitch's blog

One of my personal heroes is Yong Zhao, a Chinese-American scholar from whom I have learned much about education. I first met him through his writings, which are informative and provocative. Over the years, I met Yong at conferences, and we became friends. Not long after Anthony Cody and I created the Network for Public Education, we invited Yong to be the keynote speaker at our annual meeting in Chicago. He was a sensation. He had no prepared speech, but he did have a computer loaded with images. As he flashed from one image to another, he told a coherent story that was both based in scholarship, personal, and uproariously funny. When I created a lecture series at Wellesley College, I invited him to speak, and he again gave an informal talk that was illuminating, authoritative, and delivered with grace and humor.

I reviewed one of his books—demystifying the…

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