A trip to China

Sunday 18 November 2018

China places education centre stage

China’s vision for education has much we can learn from: aspiration | diligence and single-minded dedication to learning | determination to succeed | pursuit of excellence | value-rich communities.

I am returning from a three-day trip to China, a guest of an educational group based in Shanghai who are committed to providing high-quality international education service for Chinese students, who will find themselves well prepared to enter the world’s prestigious colleges or universities. This group started their first school with 11 students in 2008. Today they run 11 schools for more than 20,000 students as well as producing enrichment programmes for a further 100,000 students. They are driven by a moral mission to develop aspirational education to ensure that Chinese students can be world leaders in the future. Their key focus is for China to face the future | pursue excellence | and to be a lead educational flagship. Their management philosophy is focused on vision: “innovation, persistence, win-win”, and their educational principles grounded in “civic consciousness, innovative spirits and global citizenship.” Their mission is straightforward: “Provide tailor-made education for every one of our students and focus on their moral development, preparing them to become leaders and pillars of the society.”

All educational visits are personal. These are my take-aways:

A senior high school in the heart of Shanghai offering A-levels to highly selected students. Traditional chalk boards still in operation. Rote learning used to prepare students for assessment led curriculums. English as the medium language of instruction, taught by both Chinese teachers and young British teachers. Education stripped back to its essentials but focused on its primary aim – to get students through exams so that they can proceed to universities in the UK and America but within a value-rich environment. Values such as open-mindedness, caring, innovate, serene, reflective permeate the culture of this school. I was struck at how they more than embrace the IB Learner Profile.

A primary school in the heart of Hangzhou that exhibited cutting edge design and holistic educational provision focused on developing the talents of every child. Teaching staff are on contracts which value time to adequately prepare first class lessons and encourage commitment to extra-curricular activities as well as academic prowess. Students were extraordinarily disciplined but also relaxed, welcoming and increasingly proficient in English. English work on their walls compared well with similar aged children back in the UK speaking in their home language.

An ‘EduMall’ in the heart of a modern shopping centre in the centre of commercial Hangzhou. Screens at the entrance announced forthcoming classes in anything from academic subjects to wine tasting and kung foo. It reminded me of entering a cinema with the same screens showing times at which films were being shown. This EduMall was an example of how to commercialize educational products, provide egalitarian access to people who wish to develop themselves within a modern context.

China is definitely on the move. Their traditional focus on duty has produced students attentive to learning and on improving themselves. Their society combines personal, civic and aspirational values, where the goal of prosperity is focused on creating a world leading community willing to be innovative in how it educates its young. Educational entrepreneurs are re-envisioning how education can be delivered within the modern context of a shopping mall as well as the traditional setting of the classroom. China is a lot more versatile and nimbler going into the future than I see in my own country, to which many of their students aspire for university education.


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