Education should not be a race

A forum in Shanghai discussed the best ways to prepare children to face the future.

Education often moves too fast, according to speakers at a forum in Shanghai on preparing children to face the future.

Maggie Koong, chief principal of Victoria (China) Education Group, organizer of the forum, said creative teachers are very important. To face future challenges, children need to be resilient and cooperative with multi-cultural and global awareness, critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities.

Yin Houying, director of the Shanghai Education Society, agreed that children need critical and creative thinking, lifelong learning and cross-culture understanding. He said education should shift from knowledge-oriented to competency-oriented in an age of fast technological development.

He said simple memorization was against natural growth rules.

“In preschool, we should prepare students to learn, rather than engaging them in actual learning,” he said. “Don’t make kindergartens full of knowledge or symbols. Kindergartens should be full of life so that students possess necessary qualities for social development.”

Catherine Milne, professor of science education and chair of New York University’s Steinhard’s department of teaching and learning said slow education benefits children more than fast education.

According to Milne, in fast education, schools are places bereft of engaging experiences and the enjoyment of learning is suffocated by high stakes exams where knowledge has no use beyond an exam score. They push all learners toward the same goals and no deviations are allowed. With fast education, learning is a product to be consumed.

Slow education, she said, means knowledge is produced in context through meaningful work that is important to the learner. Goals can be emotional and sensory as well as cognitive.

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