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A new revolution in the Chinese education system - critical thinking studies to encourage entrepreneurship

Jiang Tsai, founder of the Innovation Academy at Peking University in an interview with the science website during the iNNOVEX2017 conference * According to him, China's economy is moving from low-cost to high-value specialization

Prof. Qian Tsai, Peking University at the NNOVEX2017 conference. Photo: Niv Kantor
Prof. Qian Tsai, Peking University at the NNOVEX2017 conference. Photo: Niv Kantor

"The Chinese government encourages critical thinking as a way to encourage entrepreneurship, which means investing in schools, universities and industrial R&D." This is what Jiang Tsai, the founder of the Peking University Innovation Academy, says in an interview with CHIPORTAL during the iNNOVEX2017 conference held last week at the Avenue Convention Center by the ASG company.
China is moving from low price to high value. The country inhabited by them is undergoing a change not only economically but also in culture and technology, with the goal being to increase GDP per capita.

"The difficult period was in the sixties when many people died from lack of food. We changed the political structure and our perception. In five years China will be the largest economy in terms of purchasing power. China's growth, which is 3 times greater than the world average, stems from three factors: territory, manpower, as well as energy and resources."

"We have a competitive advantage in exports due to the low price. This method worked but it is not sustainable because the young people in China are disappearing. The economic structure is like a mushroom - few young people hold many adults. In the near future, China will have more retirees than young people. Many outdated factories have disappeared and moved to Thailand and the Philippines. The largest factory with 1.2 million employees is Foxconn - an electronics assembly factory and they are also working on robotics as a replacement for workers."

In 2015, a government decision was made to change China's economic structure from price to value - and that the change will take place all over the country. People did not understand that value does not come from the financial market but from the real world. We had a financial crisis in 2015 quite similar to the one in the US in 2008. Today China enforces strong enforcement on polluting factories. We have a good market and macroeconomic infrastructure. We lack innovative technology and a high-tech ecosystem like there is in Israel. But we are starting to see investments in R&D - Huawei invested a billion dollars in independent research and development.

The internet is very common in China, everyone has a smartphone and an online payment system. Shenzhen has transformed in 30 years from a fishing village to the capital of innovation.

Education is the weak link. Every year we have 7.6 million university graduates, like the entire population of the State of Israel. The old method of education through exams and books took the innovation out of them. We use artificial intelligence systems and have turned the classrooms into innovation workshops. Today the students know better than the professors they search on the phone during class.

What is the innovation academy that you head?

Peking University is the first modern university in China founded back in 1898. It is a general university and next to it is Chu Ha University of Technology, both of which are still the leaders in the academic ranking.

In the first phase, the government helped change education by changing laws and regulation that would allow private businesses to build schools, and in addition it introduced regulation that would allow learning innovation. At the Peking University Innovation Institute, we have developed a web platform that will allow us to introduce this innovation to different universities and schools. My team develops patents for technologies that will enable teacher training.

"A teacher reaches 40 students, and we trained 10,000 teachers in Beijing. The plan is to transfer this training to half a million teachers next year."

"The way in which our education system not only makes them change but also makes them happy and healthy. The program is not based on receiving new technologies or skills. This is a result, not the main goal. We build the process and people have their local group. People want to join because they enjoy the company of others and also the idea of ​​creative thinking and sharing. That's why we made an effort to plan the whole program so that they would be happy. For example, we have a home management program. Art, beauty. Innovation is not only technology but in everything related to a person."

"If we want to build infrastructure, we have to change people's worldview and make them more innovative. It is much more difficult than building road infrastructure or electricity. The first thing is to invest in innovation in education. Last year at the National Congress in China it was decided to move to innovation and entrepreneurship for the masses. If the people do not understand what innovation is and they do not know how to innovate, they will have a problem joining innovation. They started as communists and moved to a market economy, but they don't have the tools to compete."

"Now people have more opportunities to learn. I don't think the older generations can't learn, they may not have opportunities and an environment to learn to share knowledge, discuss and an innovation environment that will cause change. But if you have a chance if you teach them they will change. This is what we did in China. Many of my students are not young but very mature. They are very active and dynamic in receiving new material. Anyone can learn innovation as long as you provide them with good means and a good attitude to collaborate. The approach we take CAI model Collaboration Act and Innovation model.”

It is a model that enables cross-generational learning. Young and old are in the same study room and learn from each other. This creates an active environment for them to generate ideas. The old-fashioned method - classes based on age. We memorized the material - now it's a special educational program that works both in universities and in schools and in social communities."

Is the problem due to migration from the villages to the cities?

To deal with the problem, three innovations were introduced into the program. The content program we developed is not based on their knowledge but on collaboration and not on prior knowledge from something they learned in the past. This is a new thinking model for our classrooms - innovation in teaching. Not only what is taught but how it is taught, we have also changed the teaching method - instead of lectures - joint projects with the industry and encouraging the students to propose innovative ideas. And the professors become coaches. The class became a workshop. The students are more like soldiers - they compete together and there are no grades - the market is the one that determines the quality of the idea."

"Regarding the management of education. We analyze all teachers and students. Everyone must use the smartphone app during class, and that's how they are measured. These are the three reforms. So far it has proven to be successful. This approach is also suitable for Israel and America. Using internet technology supports software, changing thinking."

"The government changed the laws, and today people are allowed to have two children, but it's not enough because it's still expensive to raise a child and they're getting older and they don't have the ability to raise children. The second thing, we train people in their 30s, 40s, 50s. We changed the work of production workers so that they are knowledge workers. We have no other choice. The whole company is investing in education reform."

Innovation is not just technology

According to Prof. Tsai, innovation is not only imparting technological knowledge but also making people happy and healthy. Acquiring the new technologies or skills is a result, not the primary goal. For example, we have a home management program. Art, beauty. Innovation is not only technology but in everything related to man.

The program combines five different aspects:
• Life - happier and healthier
• critical thinking
• Planning and planning thinking
• Economic thinking
• Aesthetic thinking.

The science website: critical thinking? in China?

Prof. Tsai: "China is now more open. From the academic point of view, every subject can be discussed, from the point of view of science it is also open. Critical thinking is a philosophy that people can discuss and have a way to enjoy the environment of science and technology. Criticism does not only mean criticizing others. We also teach the government employees who in the past insisted that the teachers teach what the party decides for them. Our philosophy is that opinions should be tested in the face of new facts. "Be honest and based on facts and not opinions. Use your facts to test the opinions."

"It is quite similar to the philosophy of the Talmud. If you go to the river you go against the current to cross. If people don't believe you, it means you are right and if many believe, it means you are wrong. It's a similar philosophy.

According to him, one of the predicted results of the move is the improvement of the level of the universities and the return of Chinese researchers from universities in the USA and who knows, maybe American professors will follow them because they will receive a much higher salary in China. In two years, China will advance and many companies from Silicon Valley will move their headquarters to China." Prof. Tsai is watching.

Regarding Israeli innovation as manifested, among other things, at the Innovex2017 conference, Prof. Tsai said: We want to learn from Israel how they have trained innovative young people. We also cooperate with Israel to solve innovation problems for the whole world not only for China. At the moment, China, the USA and Israel are the leaders in innovation. We should encourage cooperation between Shenzhen and Beijing and Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv.

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