A small group of Beijing educators and parents gathered at the Beijing Hong Kong Jockey club on Saturday, August 4, to ponder the question “What does the future of education look like?” The discussion did not cover books that directly implant into brains or robot teachers; instead the dialogue focused on what current methods of education are and are not working, how cultural identity factors into education, and how we can think differently about human capacity.
Hosted by Keystone Academy, the talk began with a video clip featuring educator Sir Ken Robinson, who believes schools should move away from a system of education modeled on industrialism and to instead promote creative thinking. Richard Todd, a visual arts teacher at Beijing City International School (BCIS) then spoke about elements of design in schools, though he emphasized that “it’s not what the school looks like, it’s what goes on inside.” He also urged society to harness the intelligence of its students now to help solve the real-life problems the world is facing.
BCIS student April Xu, 16, gave a presentation on her version of the perfect academic environment, which she named Edutopia. Edutopia would offer a liberal education that focused on life-long learning and flexibility, to ensure that people would want to continue learning for their entire lives. Chen Lelei, the parent of a daughter now attending university in Hong Kong, then spoke about her family’s decision to move her daughter from a Chinese school to an international school with an IB curriculum, and what a positive difference it made in her daughter’s education and attitude.
The two Keystone Academy figureheads, Edward Shanahan and Malcolm McKenzie, each gave a brief speech. Shanahan, founding president of Keystone, explained the new paradigm of Chinese education
that Keystone Academy aims to create. McKenzie, who will be Keystone Academy’s founding head of school, then spoke about his experience in education and what his vision is for the future of education at Keystone.
The evening’s final speaker was Liu Changming, principal of Beijing Number 4 Middle School. Liu provided interesting insight into the Chinese education system, stating that Chinese education is successful, especially in math. However, the intense amount of study in math means that students are sacrificing their personal interests, and that he hopes the future of Chinese education will allow for more freedom of development for students.
The afternoon was the first in a planned series of discussions about education, with the next series planned for sometime in November. Until then, let us know your ideas for the future of education in the comments.
Photo by Sui