Yidan Prize Foundation Inaugural Effort Hopes to Make Significant Impact on Education
Over 350 people from across the education, business, and finance industries attend impressive Hong Kong multi-faceted event focused on improving education around the world.
The question of “How do we ensure people remain ‘joyful learners?’” was posed by Yidan Prize for Education Research Inaugural Laureate Carol S. Dweck during a presentation given at the Chinese International School of Hong Kong as part of the Yidan Summit, but it could have been the theme for the entire program. Organized by the Yidan Prize Foundation, the inaugural event included a lavish awards ceremony recognizing the first two Laureates, Dweck and her fellow Inaugural Laureate Vicky Colbert, recipient of the Yidan Prize for Education Development. The event also included a day-long educational summit Education Redefined: The Future is Now.
The Yidan Prize Foundation was founded in 2016 by billionaire Dr. Charles Chen Yidan, co-founder of Chinese Internet mega-company Tencent Holdings Limited. The foundation oversees an endowment of $320 million, which is focused on establishing a platform that allows the global community to engage in conversations around education and find ways to implement improvements. As a result, the foundation has created the Yidan Prize, and annually awards roughly $7.75 million for outstanding education research and innovative ideas in education development.
Philanthropist Focuses on Education
According to Dr. Chen, the Yidan Prize is about more than just money. The research and the summit comprise important components of the overall program.
“Education for me is the single most important thing for our society, and education is worth such a big prize. But the Yidan Prize is not just about money. It is more about scalability of education. We need to ensure education is scalable. We could recognize the work of those brilliant educators so that they can come in and share their concepts. 50% of the prize is to recognize their achievements and the other 50% would be devoted to their future projects. So we focus on the future, not just past achievements.
Plus, I want to say that we set up the Yidan Prize as a platform of ideas about education. We have the prize and we also have the summit. So all this would create a platform for sharing concepts about education. Education is a very complicated system. There are so many stakeholders including policymakers and investors. We can gather all the stakeholders here to figure out the best solutions to problems in education. That is my expectation for the prize.”
Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
Professor Carol S. Dweck, the Laureate for Education Research, is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation. Her research into the concepts of fixed and growth mindsets have delivered empirical evidence of the impact those beliefs can have on learners and the importance for students’ motivation, resilience, and achievement.
According to Professor Dweck, “For many years we thought that what we needed to do was help teachers develop a growth mindset and they would pass it on to students in the classroom. One reason I believed this was that I got so many emails from teachers who had done it successfully. But then I started hearing these stories that made my blood curdle about ways in which teachers were misunderstanding growth mindset and miss-implementing it. So now with part of the Yidan Prize money we are creating a curriculum for teachers to implement growth mindset throughout the day through their practices.
“What kinds of activities, how do you present an activity, what kind of feedback do you give to students, when should they work together, focus on problem solving, focus on understanding, how do you grade them, do you give them a chance to revise? So all of these things that many teaches haven’t understood will be interwoven into this curriculum which is being developed with teachers.”
Escuela Nueva Impact Rewarded
Ms. Vicky Colbert, Founder and Director of Fundación Escuela Nueva in Colombia, is a Sociologist who has pioneered, expanded and sustained the Escuela Nueva model of teaching students in the poorest parts of Colombia through the NGO she created to ensure quality, sustainability and innovation for this unique educational approach.
According to Ms. Colbert, she plans to use the funds from the Prize to, “continue implementing Escuela Nueva, more in Colombia because it is not all over Colombia yet, in different regions, and especially in those conflict areas where we are in a post-conflict situation, so those areas I would like to focus on, strengthen what we are doing and a little bit of research and development because we have to, definitely. We are going to be working with teacher’s colleges. So it will be extremely supportive of all our strategic plan for work. And we also want to use it as a stimulus to bring local investment from local governments because I think it is going to be seed money to promote more investment on their part because it is their responsibility. It is going to be like a matching fund.”
Most noteworthy, both Professor Dweck and Ms. Colbert announced that they plan to use the full funding from their award to benefit their individual programs. The two received tremendous applause from the assembled audience when they announced on stage that they plan to find ways to collaborate on the Growth Mindset and Escuela Nueva concepts.
A Look at the Skills of the Future
As part of the overall summit, in addition to topics including Investing in Future-Ready Education and Classroom of the Future: Implementing Innovative Learning, the Yidan Prize Foundation released and presented a research report titled, “Worldwide Educating for the Future Index. A benchmark for the skills of tomorrow,” produced and written by The Economist Intelligence Unit. This groundbreaking research looks at the rapid development of technology, the impacts it will have on the skills needed by future workers, and how well 35 different countries are doing to prepare their students for the future. According to the report, the skills students will need in the future include:
- Interdisciplinary skills
- Creative and analytical skills
- Entrepreneurial skills
- Leadership skills
- Digital and technical skills
- Global awareness and civic education
The challenge for educators around the world, according to the researchers, is how they will evolve their education systems to adapt to what will be necessary to make students successful in the future. Out of the 35 countries evaluated, New Zealand, Canada and Finland finished in the top three while Egypt, Indonesia and Iran finished in the bottom; the US finished 12th overall. The Yidan Prize Foundation plans to sponsor this research on an annual basis where education leaders can see how their score changes over time.
The Yidan Prize is the largest prize for international education. As a result, this year there were nearly 1,000 nominees evaluated under four judging criteria. The judges met to discuss each topic and what it meant to each individual judge. Fifty percent of the prize is in the form of cash to the Laureate to use how they want, and 50% goes to the project itself, paid out over three years. The Foundation expects the Laureates to report back each year how they spend the money and what achievements they’ve seen.
Nominations for the 2018 Yidan Prizes are open through March 2018. For more information, visit www.yidanprize.org.
Pictured at top:
Clive Lee Ka-Lun, Chief Executive Officer, Yidan Prize Foundation; Professor Carol S. Dweck, Yidan Prize for Education Research Inaugural Laureate; The Honorable Mrs. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Ms. Vicky Colbert, Yidan Prize for Education Development Inaugural Laureate; Mr. Charles Chen Yidan, Founder, Yidan Prize at the Inaugural Award Presentation Ceremony in Hong Kong