Posted 2018-08-09

Principals and teachers from one of the world’s highest-performing education systems spent time in Darwin at the start of August visiting Independent schools and learning alongside Territory educators. The study tour and Future Education: Global Sharing Forum was organised by AISNT in conjunction with Edgar Qian, Managing Director at Shanghai Brisbane Education Training Centre. The forum was led by Dr Stephen Brown.

The Chinese educators visited Good Shepherd Lutheran College, Haileybury Rendall School, Marrara Christian College, Milkwood Steiner School and The Essington International School Darwin.

The benefits for the Northern Territory included: a rare opportunity to interact with leading international practitioners in education; a chance to showcase excellence within our own Independent schools; fostering international connections, including potential sister school relationships; and a boost for local schools in their quest to attract international enrolments and share in one of Australia’s largest and most important export industries, education.

The Chinese visitors were from:

·         Shanghai Chuansha Middle School

·         Beijing Electrical Engineering School

·         Shanghai World Foreign Language Primary School

·         Shanghai New Quality School Research Institute

·         Shanghai Brisbane Education Training Centre

The Forum featured well-received presentations from a number of schools. Dr Brown, with customary skill, introduced participants to a number of thought-provoking questions including:

·         How can we distribute resources to promote equity not just in our school but across multiple schools, while ensuring high quality outcomes?

 ·         How can we build and maintain academic results while producing students who are happy and creative?

 ·         Should teachers be renamed as learning designers?

 ·         Within 30 years, Artificial Intelligence consciousness may replace human speech – what does this mean for the classroom?

 ·         How can we provide a better quality education for students with a range of diverse needs, not just in our school, but across multiple schools?

“We are doing this for the future,” said Edgar Qian. “The world is getting smaller with high tech. We need a better understanding of each other, and of our societies. Our younger generation, we have a responsibility for them. I think the future of education is in the one society, better understanding, more open mindedness, more shared vision. High tech is high tech, but when you grow up you also understand who has been your teacher. That is the way. Teaching is so important for their whole life. Meeting everyone with what they need, that is education. I believe a good education is something that you can use for your whole life, with better understanding, creative thinking, open your mind, sharing with other people, all different skills you can build up. Learn these skills for your whole life and it will be a success.

“This study tour and forum were very successful to build a better understanding. Chinese schools can learn so much from Australian schools. We are very impressed with the way they are doing things. I see a future of more cooperation. I have been in Australia working for 31 years. We have the same vision. In the future I think Australia and China will work very closely for the younger generations, for all areas,” Mr Qian said.

“I think this visit is tiring but rewarding,” said Yvonne Feng from Shanghai Chuansha Middle School. “I have enjoyed every minute. I am so glad to meet so many principals and educators, sharing different ideas on how to cultivate global students into the future. I have found more opportunities to make full use of the teaching resources. Here you are rich in teaching resources, not just a vast land area, but with well-educated teachers.

“I was so amazed with the small class sizes, we can make better use of that in Shanghai. We have such large class sizes, students are very self-disciplined. Australian students can learn that from our students. I was deeply touched by the emotion of the principals working in Aboriginal education. On the one hand we need to educate global citizens but on the other hand we have to keep the identity of the native people, keeping that culture or combining the two things. I really appreciate the efforts of these educators, and I will bring that noble work back to where I live. We have students from the hinterland from ethnic minorities and we have to think about helping them,” Ms Feng said.

Gail Barker summarised the value of the time spent together: “Building relationships and having deep conversations is of paramount importance,” she said. “Things are changing very fast in education. We need to be working together. This is just the beginning, and we want to keep the momentum going, for the teachers, principals and most importantly the students in both countries.”