Multilingual education is booming in China, and the sector’s growth prospect for international languages is absolutely stunning. Thanks to Jacqueline Plessis and Wanling Liang, the educational team of the French Embassy in Beijing, I had several interesting exchanges with two Chinese experts on language education whom agreed to be interviewed for my podcast Révolution bilingue: – Mr. Yu Zhonggen, Professor of English at Tsinghua University whose domain of research is English as a second language; – Mrs. Zhu Yanhua, Professor in Human Sciences at Beijing Language and Culture University, whose domain of research is the Sino-Tibetan family, and the situation of cross-border languages, particularly the comparison between Chinese and Tibetan.
As a former school director and education researcher I often think about what we need to teach our children. To me, the 4 C’s that are Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity are essential skills to equip our children with for today’s and even tomorrow’s world too. But we need to go even further than that by teaching our children a fifth C: Compassion.
This point culminated during my recent visit to China to an art education project in a school for migrant workers’ children in one of Beijing’s outer rings, Beijing Shijingshan Cement Factory Elementary School, through a program called “Enlightenment of Love.” The project received support from Sun Future Art Education Foundation which bases itself on the belief that “Art Education Makes Good People,” and aims to help children grow both heart and mind. I was impressed by the teachers’ focus on exploration and innovation through aesthetics and photography, particularly as a way to build identity and encourage love and compassion among their students who predominantly came from disadvantaged families.
During my trip to China I was offered the opportunity to visit Beijing’s Children Discovery Museum, a 0-to-7-year-old early childhood education project jointly developed by Lao Niu Brother & Sister Foundation together with China National Children’s Center, China Philanthropy Research Institute, and Beijing Normal University. By creating this museum in Beijing, and a similar one in Inner Mongolia, Lao Niu Foundation sought to introduce innovative and interactive exploration to Chinese children, through advanced design concepts and practice models commonly found in children’s museums in the United States and Europe, while combining Chinese traditional culture in the model. Since opening on June 1, 2005, Lao Niu Children’s Discover Museum is the first large-scale children’s museum in Beijing.
China is becoming an increasingly important stakeholder in philanthropy in education. As a follow-up to several talks I gave on philanthropy in education I was invited to take part in Philanthropy in Childhood Education in China: Trends and Perspectives, a conference organized by the China Global Philanthropy Institute in collaboration with NORRAG (Network for international policies and cooperation in education and training) and 21st Century Education Research Institute, with sponsorship from the Lao Niu Brother & Sister Foundation.
This event targeted foundations, non-profit educational organizations, academia, business, social enterprises, media and government to discuss the theme of education equity and innovation in childhood education in China. It brought together around 170 participants, and high-level speakers presenting a combination of domestic and international experiences and case studies.