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2024

New Year’s Message 2024 | Let Education Celebrate Each and Every Life

New Year’s Message 2024 | Let Education Celebrate Each and Every Life

 

Time and tide wait for no man. As the sunshine of the new year of 2024 is about to illuminate your life, we hereby extend our cordial greetings and wish you a brilliant new year. 

 

No matter you are in the South where flowers are still blooming or in the North where the world is decorated with ice and snow, no matter whether you are glowing with pride and ambition or resting for a later comeback, let’s set aside the gains and losses and prepare to embrace a brand-new start at the turn of the year. The new year breeds new possibilities, and everything is just in time. As time goes by, hope is always there. 

 

2023 marks the first year in the aftermath of the pandemic. In an unpredictable world of events sorrowful and joyful, people were striving to seek the light of life as everything went back to normal. In the meantime, disruptive technologies such as AI are triggering chain effects, and eagerness for opportunities and fear of the unknown are intertwined with each other. 

 

Technology promises prosperity for society at large, but individuals still need to bear the risks and costs of transformation. Education is supposed to and should always be future-oriented, and ensure that people gain a foothold in that future. In this era of dramatic changes, we believe and advocate that “Education should serve as the stabilizer and buffer, soothing the people and empowering the people.”

 


● Education should be rooted in the soil of life ●

 

In 2023, two scientists from OpenAI published a book entitled Why Greatness Cannot be Planned, which described how OpenAI disrupted conventional thinking and sparked many wonderous innovations. This also explains why education cannot be too rigid, since innovation is an exploration of interesting and novel ideas. The essence of life is growth. We need a transformation of paradigms, broaden the vision and scope of education, and call for vibrant and inspirational education.

 

When we talk about interesting learning experiences during childhood, many would remember spending the whole afternoon looking at ants moving home or waiting for a stone to bloom. People may forget what you said and what you did, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel. And this philosophy should also apply to education. 

 

Themed on artificial intelligence and the future of education, the Yidan Education Forum 2023 has pooled participants from various social walks of life, including experts, scholars, artists, curators, authors, and publishers at home and abroad. It is noted that the community of education is working hard to keep up with the changing times. Research on diversified learning approaches in the AI era, multimodality and pedagogy as well as brain science and future education were all discussed in the forum. AI as an important tool and strong assistant of education has become the consensus. In the meantime, there is also a call for education to return to the roots of humanities. Education is as natural as breathing in our lives. Education is not somewhere else, but right here. 

 

Besides the education forum, we also launched an irregular, off-line dialogue series called “Reading Salon” as a closer way of communication with the public. This year, we covered various topics, including how reading relates to the city and humanities, the cultivation of better parent-child relationships through reading, as well as learning and growth through play. We are convinced that literacy ability will continue to be crucial in the future as an important foundation of individual learning. Reading can also help us better understand ourselves and life.

 

Future education should be rooted in and nourished by the rich soil of life. Emerging in our daily lives, the Whole Person Education goes beyond skill training and focuses on mind, body, and soul, including meditation, cooking, body-building, art, etc. 

 


● Let education celebrate each and every life ●

 

Over the years, we’ve heard too many stories about “involution (內卷)” in education. Technologies have released productivity. Faced with a limitless future, it is time to bid farewell to the kind of education featuring zero-sum and negative-sum logic and head for tranquility and peace. If we could admit the reality that most people are just ordinary, we would be able to foster our children with more tolerance and patience and let them grow freely. 

 

As the education ecosystem becomes more diversified and multi-dimensional, our next generation will have more possibilities. In the future, examining a leaf attentively is as important as frontier life science research. The future calls for not only scientists and engineers but also artists, craftsmen, and gardeners. The latter professions are even more resilient in the AI era. 

 

In 2023, we worked further on promoting competency-based education projects. In the makers’ camp, the children designed and fabricated small household appliances through theoretical studies and hands-on practical workshops. In one of our PBL (project-based-learning) projects, the children constructed the future living model of a 1m2 mobile city. Though the prototype was still far from being mature, it showed that the children started to think and act in a concrete manner on potential issues of climate, environment, energy, etc. In Supernova Art Project, high school students of Generation Z expressed in their works concern for biology and the ecosystem and spontaneously returned to the points of life and mental health. 

 

They may not all be geniuses, but they all have infinite possibilities. Instead of celebrating those at the peak only, we should be aware that those at the plains and hills are also worthy. The amazing power of education is that it believes in every ordinary person. People are celebrated not because of their excellence, but life itself.Ordinary people, without being too humble or arrogant, should acknowledge their ordinariness, accept imperfections and flaws, and yet do not underestimate themselves. This is what changes the world. 

 

In 2023, we initiated the program of Volunteer Teaching with CMYK Palettes, where competency-based education is piloted in and outside classrooms. On the trips to Sichuan, Xinjiang, etc., we appreciated bright smiles of children who are the core of the program. 2023 marks the fifth year of Yuepu Music Space where music courses and summer camps are developed and run periodically. The children even perform on the stage in Shenzhen as “99 Giving Day Envoys”.

 

In the era of superintelligence, respect for commonness and encouragement of diversity are of greater value. Establishing the value of people through education and helping create a rich inner world and good life experience for each individual will make our world more abundant and resilient. 

 

 

● Respect common sense and the power of truth-telling ●

 

Mankind has never experienced the omni-media environment as it is today. At a time of mixed messages, telling right from wrong and seeking truth from facts are of critical importance. Education should clear up confusion, revert to common sense, and keep telling the truth. As remarked by the renowned Chinese educator Mr. Tao Xingzhi, “Those who dedicated themselves to education, should tell truths rather than lies, to our children, our youngsters and the general public”.

 

Only the power of truth can touch people’s hearts and souls. A word of truth is heavier than the world at large. It was the case before, and it is even more so today. 

 

There’s a huge gap between ideal and reality in traditional education. If the goal is too strict and unrealistic, people will become frustrated and be turned into machines eventually. Telling the truth means that, first and foremost, education should coordinate with brain science and psychology, clarify the concepts, and let people accept imperfection and fragility. 

 

Telling the truth means being true to ourselves. What constitutes modern civilization is not only technology and material but more fundamentally people’s minds. Modern civilization is still fragile, and common sense needs to be defended. Without education, people’s minds may even be degraded and civilization undermined. “For those who hold torches for others, we should not let them freeze to death in snowstorms”. Such words have simple yet great power between the lines.

 

Regarding how to shape future-oriented education and seek the essence and possibilities of education, we are still tirelessly exploring. In the report “Competence and Education of the Learner for the Future” released by our Foundation in 2022, the research teams painted a picture of future learners and put forward the Learner for the Future Competence Frame (LFCF) and the Competence-Method-Year-Knowledge (CMYK) Education Syntax. We continue our studies on future learning in 2023 with the release of the research report “How CMYK Shapes the Future: Action for Nurturing the Learner for the Future”, led by Professor Wang Chen from Beijing Normal University. In the report, we demonstrated the development process of different developmental chains for different abilities, such as reading ability, exploration ability, and aesthetic ability; we created a Project Units (PU) generative mechanism, curriculum modules, and list of tools; and we elaborated on the application of CMYK with specific examples. Through our research and practice, we continue to believe that education should relate back to the people, and the developmental path of each person should be respected.

 

 

● Constructing an “anytime, everywhere and everyone” education ecosystem ●

 

The realities today are the results of yesterday, and the creation of the future is in our hands today. Be it enduring prosperity or unpredictable crisis, education should prepare well for the future: at the macro level, take quicker actions and create everything that we aim for but is not there yet; at the micro level, teach the next generation to remain calm in changing times and let them grow peacefully and overcome any difficulty that might arise. 

 

Only by integrating education into our daily lives, focusing on people’s growth and happiness, and making education available at anytime, at everywhere, and for everyone, can we possibly ensure education is restored to its essence and contributes to a greater future. 

 

Though confronted with an unpredictable future, we still choose to guard the light of life, commonness, and truth with education. As long as there is light, little grass will emerge and grow from cracks and celebrate the power of life. Every kind of life is worth serious attention and whole-hearted efforts. By reverting to our focus on the destiny of each and every individual, it marks a new beginning for this great country. 

 

No winter is impassable, and spring will always come. We’ve noted the tender shoots of the future on the branches. And we believe that good things will happen and we are patient enough to keep going and let them happen. 

 

We will continue to work with our partners to advocate the diversified education ecosystem, and let education return to life, connect with our real selves, and help achieve richer lives for the people.

 

In the long journey ahead, new discoveries abound. It is our sincere wish that we forge ahead in the new year with ardent aspirations and carry forward our education ideals in the real world and our daily lives. 

 

Chen Yidan Foundation

January 1, 2024


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