New Year's Message 2023 | Connection and Growth: Fostering a New Family-school-society Education Ecology for the Future


Every vision begins somewhere.


As the New Year's bell rings, we meet once again to reflect on the past year and look ahead to a new journey.


Over the past year, we witnessed theoretical and technological breakthroughs in the fields of energy, artificial intelligence, robotics, and space exploration, which continue to give rise to a vision of a more ambitious future; at the same time, we also witnessed the three-year-old COVID-19 epidemic finally coming to an end around the world. Life is getting back to normal. People are gathering new strength in the midst of hardship.  


Education is the bond of human civilization. It is the most prioritized element for global development and it is a key for future generations. In 2022, we saw progress in the education sector and we renewed our pledge to this goal. We have taken another step forward in this long journey.


ChenYidan Foundation is committed to promoting the development of a diversified education ecosystem. In the past year, we worked hard together with our partners in the education sector to advance the research and practice on the collaborative development of family, school, and society education. These projects has enhanced our understanding and uncovered the connection between the three systems. If each system in "family, school, and society" can utilize its strength and build effective cross-system collaboration, they can produce a synergistic effect of 1+1+1>3, bringing infinite possibilities and unimaginable growth.


A virtuous society is absolutely rooted in a virtuous education. Family, school, and society are three systems that are relatively independent yet closely interconnected. Upon closer inspection, there are actually conflicts in various aspects, such as personalization vs scalability, humanity vs efficiency, short-term interests vs long-term goals, and the interest of sectors vs society at large. To meet these complex challenges, contradictions, and conflicts in the world today, education needs to be integrated and organic. Education should create a new ecosystem that grows, builds new connections, and explores the synergy of family, school, and society education.  


Innovation in education never stops and new educational paradigms have emerged. Based on past practice and experience, we would advocate the followings:


Family: Growth is a lifelong endeavor and it’s time to return to the essence of education


Traditional family structures are undergoing drastic changes in recent years and the intergenerational differences in parenting create new challenges. We observe that parents are getting ever more anxious about their children’s education and the excessive stress is hurting the parent-child relationship.


We can fully empathize with the parents. However, if parents can shift their focus and take a step back, they would see a bigger picture: growth is a lifelong endeavor. Greatness lies in the ordinary. Greatness is a result of consistently taking the right actions. Children's growth is organic and cannot be rushed. Patience is sometimes more important than love in family education.


We believe that the top priority in education is to help children develop the following traits: curiosity, resilience, perseverance, optimism, and altruism. Parents should not be confined by the resource of their immediate family, they should instead take a collaborative approach and utilize community-based resources. It's necessary for parents to learn new educational ideas, obtain resources and services, and build a strong bond with the community.


In 2022, the Foundation initiated a research and development project on companionship in family education. We have completed the development of the "Social-Emotional Learning for Children" and "Cognitive Learning for Children" programs with leading education experts from Tsinghua University and Beijing Normal University. Moreover, we also kickstarted the "Child Development Navigator" program to systematically improve parents’ ability to conduct family education. We hope that by providing simple and fun tools, we can help parents understand their children’s development more scientifically and enhance the effectiveness of family education. We’re striving to create a new educational ecosystem that is rational, personalized, and back to basics. We believe this can improve parent-child relationships and make parenting more enjoyable. 


School: Accelerate the shift from subject-based education to competency-based education


School is the most important place where education is delivered. However, the modern school system is designed on the principle of applying industrialization to education, i.e. the production-line approach is used to cultivate the workforce that society needs in large quantities. By teaching everyone the same things, the school provides efficient educational products. Unfortunately, such efficiency comes at the cost of taking away a student’s greatest motivation for learning, curiosity.


In recent years, continuous efforts have been made to improve the schooling system, which is indeed progressing.


The paradigm shift in learning and teaching reflects a shift from teacher-directed to student-centered. For instance, more inquiry and peer learning activities have been arranged in the classroom. Learning is no longer confined to the classroom. However, these are not enough in response to a future full of uncertainties.


School should be a place where the competencies necessary for whole-person development are nurtured. In school, students should learn how to develop positive values, attitudes, and a commitment to lifelong learning; learn how to think logically and how to use their rational competence; and learn to move forward with passion to create a better world, while remaining resilient along the way. These competencies are essential for individuals to meet the challenges in the 21st century.


There is no clear-cut distinction between school and society. We believe that it is time to accelerate the shift from subject-based education to competency-based education. Our Foundation continues our exploration and support in the school system through projects such as the "Future-Oriented Competence Pump Initiative" and donations for University Development.


Society: Nurture future-oriented learners by learning in the real world


The 21st century is merely 23 years old, but revolutions are happening every day. As more jobs become automated, a degree is no longer sufficient for a lifetime. In an increasingly VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world, there are no standardized answers. Each individual has to be self-motivated and collaborate with others to find solutions, which makes education even more challenging.


Children do not live or learn in a vacuum, and their education should be relatable too. The richer the experiences children have in their early years, the easier it is for them to discover their interests, passion, or talents. It is also important for children to develop a sense of belonging to their society. It forms the basis for them to understand the society they live in.


Over the past year, our Foundation has continuously promoted the incubation of educational innovation projects. In June 2022, we launched YiPai, an innovative education community that combines competency-based education programs and diversified learning experiences. From the project-based learning (PBL) programs to the YiPai Community Festival, we have done a lot of exploring.


This summer, we launched a series of PBL programs on the theme of "The City We Live in". In the different PBL programs, we focused on the relationships between people and people, people and space, people and technology, and people and the community around us. In addition, we also organized the "YiPai Community Festival" where we encourage children to discover the many good things happening around them through participating in a wide range of charitable and educational programs. By focusing on the people and things around them, we help them paint a picture of life in a good community and establish a real-world connection. All these programs have one common goal: to nurture a future-oriented learner, one who grows freely and is kind to others.


In the future, we aim to help children and teenagers discover and develop their unique gifts and rich inner self through social learning. We hope that they would learn how to learn, how to act, and how to embrace a happy life. Besides, they can also prepare themselves for success in the 21st century. 


Education calls for the concerted efforts of all


There is a Western proverb that says, "it takes a village to raise a child". The collaborative efforts of all are absolutely necessary to give children a sense of security and develop their potential, in order to grow and realize their hopes and dreams. This is not just a geographical concept, but a network of collaboration and educational governance with shared values and a common vision.


In 2022, we invited Professor Hannele Niemi from the University of Helsinki in Finland and Professor Chen WANG from Beijing Normal University to co-lead the research report on Competence and Education of the Learner for the Future. The report paints a picture of the learner for the future, sets up the Learner for the Future Competence Framework (LFCF), and puts forth CMYK (Competence-Method-Year-Knowledge), an educational model for nurturing learners for the future. Based on these solid research findings, we'll continue to test and validate them through practice. We hope that LFCF and CMYK can work well and provide a good framework and effective tools for various educational scenarios in families, schools, and society.


The development of a diversified educational ecosystem requires the connection of family, school, and society. Boundaries between them should be broken down. Educational research has allowed us to see how new possibilities in education are sprouting up in the midst of the connection and growth of family, school, and society: We organized the Yidan Education Forum 2022, which pays attention to family education, school education, and social education from the ecosystem perspective. Nearly 50 experts and scholars at home and abroad were invited to explore the "Learning Ecosystem for the Future: Family, School, Society". Together with the LEGO Foundation, we launched the "Learning through Play in China" educational research project and successfully completed the reports, including Reshaping Learning Style: Learning through Play in China and the Integration of Global Science and Learning through Play: Impacts upon Family, School, and Urban Planning


These are attempts to place innovative education in different scenarios of family, school, and society in an effort to explore how "family, school, and society" can work well together while playing their respective roles in a better way.


Education should not be detached from our personal life and the real world. Learning and growth is actually lifelong endeavor.


Children are our future professors, scientists, thinkers, and engineers. They will be the ones driving our civilization forward. Imagine how vibrant the future would be if our children really spent their first twenty years doing what they are truly passionate about.


Education is the greatest thing that humanity has ever done. It is education that makes humans both ordinary and extraordinary. We firmly believe that education provides the best way to develop tools that help us live a better life and cope with the long-term challenges we all face.


As the digital world is entering the real world at an alarming rate, we have reason to stay optimistic and focus on growth. There is still a great deal of work to be done to make education become a lifetime thing and reach every individual. For some topics, even if they are clear and unambiguous, they will still take years or even decades to resolve. We cannot ignore the patience and effort of each individual and each group, which work together little by little to make a difference.


Let's believe in the power of education, the power of connection, and the power of growth. In 2023, let us move forward and let the future happen!


ChenYidan Foundation

January 1, 2023