2016 Sharestart Asia Conference: Changing Education in Chinese-speaking regions
On 10-11 December, more than 600 teachers and partners from Taiwan and abroad participated in the inaugural Sharestart Asia Conference, jointly organized by the Sharestart community, National Taiwan University’s Center for Teacher Education, Wen Ye Education Foundation, The Alliance Cultural Foundation (ACF) and Junyi Academy. The Sharestart teaching method breaks through the traditional spoon-fed education, and the congregation of educators from Southeast Asia based on their shared experience of an innovative pedagogy from Taiwan aims to create a more efficient pedagogy for new advances in the education arena of the Chinese-speaking world.
The Minister for Education, Pan Wen-zhong highlighted Sharestart’s role in allowing students to be active learners instead of retreating, hence the Ministry supports such an initiative and movement. More than seventy overseas education partners from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Brunei, and a team of online mathematics education experts from China attended the conference, promoting transnational exchange of capacity building. Over eighty teachers from Malaysia and Hong Kong were present, including educators from Pin Hwa High School of Klang, Chung Hua Middle School of Port Dickson and Yu Chai Primary School of Perak’s Kuala Kurau. Participating schools from Hong Kong included the United Christian College, The Jockey Club Eduyoung College, ECF Saint Too Canaan College and the Fanling Rhenish Church Secondary School.
To encourage more interaction between senior and junior educators, senior teachers were encouraged to share on their joys and pains of using the Sharestart pedagogy. The senior-junior educator mentorship was also promoted to help junior teachers be unbridled in creativity while achieving high professionalism. Representatives from organizations such as the PaGamO, the first ever online gaming platform for education was also present, the Junyi Academy flipped classroom and Design For Change were invited, as well as innovative Taiwanese elementary educator Wen Mei-yu. With over 20 years of teaching experience, Principal Zheng Jiande of the United Christian College was inspired to re-enter the classroom after learning about the Sharestart pedagogy.
Sharestart as a bottom-up force of reform for education seeks to engage education policymakers, hence a seminar and forum was conducted on education landscape planning and policy, inviting Minister for Education, Pan Wen-zhong and Political Deputy Minister of Education Chen Liang-gee in an exciting dialogue with ACF Chairman Stanley Yen, Co-founder of PaGamO, Professor Benson Yeh and Junyi Academy Chairman Shinjou Fang.
Political Deputy Minister of Education Chen Liang-gee opined that each child is unique and the purpose of education lies in living itself. Hence the mastery of vocational skills, which allows an individual to contribute to society, ought to be recognized beyond academic achievement. Professor Yeh, designer of the world’s first mass online open course-based multi-student social game, PaGamO, said that change for the future of Taiwan’s education scene is possible with small communities working together. Junyi Academy Chairman Fang called for society to unite in mindset and work towards solving income inequality and rural-urban divide. The best resources and teachers ought to be allocated to the schools in the most remote areas to develop the potentials of children from those areas.
ACF Chairman Yen mentioned that children of today ought to find their own niche for future survival. The redistribution of resources ought to be done in light of what capitalism failed to cover. Citing the Minerva Schools at KGI, a non-profit, four-year undergraduate program with its borderless classroom philosophy and multifaceted and multicultural educational, ACF Chairman Yen said that students should not be trapped into the classroom, calling for a similar model in Taiwan!
In addition to inviting outstanding Sharestart teachers to hold workshops on Chinese, Mathematics, English, Information Technology, Chemistry, Civic Education, Art, Social Studies, Life Education, Artistic Drama, Essay Writing and Board Games Pedagogy which over twenty such workshops were held for high school and senior high subjects, two sessions were specially organized for practical practice.
Chang Hui-cheng, founder of the Sharestart pedagogy is deeply inspired by the energies in the Sharestart conference. With the creation of the pedagogy in its fourth year, Chang now hopes to decrease rote learning in Chinese-speaking regions. Within ten years, he hopes that Sharestart can be used by 10% of teachers in Taiwan and also expand this pedagogy abroad, bringing the world to Taiwan and bringing Taiwan to the world.