Dr. Francis Pang, a highly successful businessman and innovator in Chinese and international education, is at it again.
Dr. Pang’s journey into the world of education innovation began when he partnered with the Province of New Brunswick (NB) over a decade ago. The partnership with a Canadian province allowed Dr. Pang to build a number of private high schools in China and offer Chinese students a unique learning opportunity. Dr. Pang’s schools offer a blend of Chinese and Canadian (NB) curriculum, intermixed with both Chinese and English language instruction. When the students graduate, they do so with a dual Chinese and Canadian (NB) high school diploma. This provides them the option of pursuing their post secondary studies in China or elsewhere.
A key element of the partnership is the placement of Canadian teachers in the private schools in China, where students are exposed to Canadian instructional methodologies, such as project based learning and working in groups.
Dr. Pang has received recognition and numerous awards both in China and in Canada for his innovative education model.
But Dr. Pang is not content to rest on his laurels. He is now at the forefront in China advocating for 21st Century models of learning. He is actively positioning his private schools to be at the forefront of this global movement in China.
21st Century learning comprises many aspects, but in the interest of brevity we will identify four key elements: 1) Relevancy: This means re-designing curriculum to ensure learning outcomes are relevant to positioning student for success in the 21st Century knowledge and digital era; 2) 21C Instructional Practices: This means ensuring teachers are trained in teaching 21st Century competencies and integrating technology with pedagogy; 3) ICT Rich Learning Environments: This means ensuring schools have high quality connectivity capacity and both students and teachers have access to a variety of classroom technologies; and 4) Global: This means students are provided opportunities to connect with the world around them, from a local, regional and international perspective. C21 Canada, a newly formed coalition advocating for 21st Century models of learning in Canada, provides and more in depth overview of 21st Century learning in their Shifting Minds framework document (see: www.C21canada.org ).
21st Century learning also means personalizing and customizing learning experiences for students. To be successful in today’s ever changing and technology fueled environment, youth need to be as creative and innovative as they can be to be successful in their careers and in life. In this context creativity means the ability to create something of value, and innovation means the ability to extract economic and social value from knowledge.
Dr. Pang gets it. He knows that China’s current and future prosperity and quality of life depends on how well it innovates and a highly skilled society. And he is determined to lead the way through education.
In the past Dr. Pang needed New Brunswick to offer his students leading edge learning opportunities. Over a decade later two questions remain. Can New Brunswick keep pace with Dr. Pang in the pursuit of 21st models of learning? And can Canada keep pace with China?