Taking a long-term view of educational developments, Chinese and international parents become more informed about what exactly quality education is, and with the Chinese National Curriculum rapidly transitioning towards a comprehensive and individualized model, it is pushing international schools to be more visible and transparent with their offerings to stay relevant. To have a better understanding on Self directed learning and changing roles in education, recently, The University of Manchester China Centre hosted an Education Industry Spotlight Session in a blended way. Mr. Mark Upton, Founder and CEO of Upto U Education Services, was invited to deliver a keynote speech to the audience, while attracting over 600 professionals to join both online and offline.
Mark supports the opinion that education is all about how we develop the passions. The key is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions. However, the current education still need revolution because it is restricted of exam-based accountability and limited notions of success’ which he views as a force that hinders individual purpose and essential real-world problem-solving and creative experiences because society largely judges on narrow exam criteria. To find an alternative way for education development, many people has focus on looking for the interrelating between teachers and communities to replace the situation that only focusing on narrate academic results.
Embroidered on this theme of Well-being for kids and Well-being for teachers , Mark insisted on that education should be offering students, parents and teachers routes to empower people so they can feel it really is ‘up to you’ what you want to achieve, without feeling that ‘system’ or ‘people’ limitations hold you back before you’ve got started, or had a chance to find your way. In this process, from play to passion to purpose is pretty important. The concept of finding your purpose in life from being passionate about what you’re doing is only possible if you’ve had (and continue to enjoy) the opportunity to play, to explore, to think out of the box, to be creative and innovative.
Self-directed learning is very important in education, it is all about ‘learner-driven education’. By this I mean students (and their life-long-learning parents & teachers!) should have ownership of their learning, manage/monitor their own learning, and decision-making for extending their own learning. For schools, this means improved learning environment opportunities provided by strategic set-up, empowering cultures and curriculum, and operational expertise. For school leaders and teachers, enhanced professional learning. For students and parents via opening the door to self-directed learning and to wider, deeper extra-curricular activities. These are challenging, yet achievable goals for international schools.
China is also taking self-directed learning seriously and making impressive efforts. The latest National Initiatives resulted from China’s National Curriculum Standards are emphasising cultivating students’ innovative consciousness, wellbeing, the dual importance of ‘comprehensiveness & individualisation’, a focus on achieving smooth transition across age groups based on understanding age-related developmental stages, and advocating enlightening, inquiry-based open-ended teaching to protect children’s curiosity whilst seeking wider measures of success, not just exam performances.
It is difficult to have a conversation about anything this year without discussing the impact of Covid-19 and, alas, international education is no different. Mark, however, believes that the world-impacting events may act as a force for positive change for educators and for the industry as a whole. He thinks 2020 has brought home to all of us just how quickly our lives can be changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined or predicted. He is really pleased teachers/schools/parents have all responded, both online and offline, by applying new adaptive approaches to ensure Education still thrives.
Discussion about how education should change often leads to intractable disagreement, but it is a fair observation that schools have not been substantially rethought since the industrial era. We shouldn’t be trying to fix the system, we should be evolving a new system in which ‘schools’ are exciting ‘Blended Learning Centres’, ‘Learning Hubs’, ‘Self-Directed Learning Centres’, ‘Living Museums/Irresistible Libraries’, ‘Community Imagination Centres’ and ‘Spring-boarding Launch Centres. Mark envisages a clear and key role for internationally minded educators in such a system - developing students’ own self-discovery of their purpose in life and preparing youngsters for a world of tomorrow. Persuading teachers isn’t the challenge, however, it’s empowering teachers to persuade school and system leaders.
To help more educators build sustainable careers, Manchester Institute of Education at The University of Manchester is now providing a blended-learning, part-time Master in Educational Leadership in Practice course, for a global rollout. China Centre is proud to bring this part-time, flexible course for working professionals and future leaders in Asia in education industry.
This programme has been designed in a flexible format, allowing you to balance your existing commitments with studying a Postgraduate qualification. As a student, you’ll be studying with international Educational Leadership experts and global leaders in the delivery of Educational Leadership with over 22 years’ of international teaching and research experience.
For more course information, please contact The University of Manchester China Centre
Tel: +86 (0) 21 6070 1317