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Ex UK Chief Education Advisor on talent's education in China

By Li Xiang (People's Daily Online)

11:26, January 11, 2013

Sir Michael Barber gives speech at China's education forum on Jan. 10, 2013(People's Daily Online/Xu Bo)

Sir Michael Barber, who is the Chief Education Advisor of Pearson and also the former Chief Advisor in education for the UK government, has accepted an interview from People's Daily Online and shared his opinions about China's education during the education forum 2013 held in Beijing on Thursday.The forum is sponsored by Pearson China and China Education Publishing & Media Holdings Co.,Ltd.

At the forum, Michael Barber made an inspiring speech "challenges of the 21st Century demand a redefinition of education goals". His framework and several proposes have aroused response and debate among the attendees.

Li Xiang: You recently visited several schools and universities in Beijing. What's your impression on the schools and universities?

Michael Barber: It's been a pleasure to visit schools and universities in Beijing. First of all, everybody takes education very seriously, every teacher, every parent and every citizen, that's a good start. And the teachers and schools are very thoughtful on how to improve teachers' skills, that's a very special thing in China. Secondly, there's a lot of concern on teachers' development. The third thing would be the need to developing innovation and creativity.

Li Xiang: E (K+T+L) is one important framework you proposed at the forum. It stresses the definition of well educated which combines ethics, knowledge, thinking and leadership. Besides E (K+T+L), what else does it take to become a talent?

Michael Barber: The equation is for everybody. This is broad framework that I believe it is necessary for China to develop, and I am very happy to see Premier Wen has also been talking this kind of things. So I think I've created a frame work, but actually, it is expressing what other people have already believed in China and elsewhere in the world.

Li Xiang: What is the difference between Chinese talents and talents from other countries?

Michael Barber: China has a deep history of commitment to education, believing if you work hard, you can do well. That's a very important, powerful and positive thing about China, while in some countries, there is a strong belief that one is born talented or not. But in China, people believe if you work hard, you can develop that talent yourself. That's a different approach. China's thinking is very powerful driver education. Britain and America believe in the "talent myth" which is damaging. But talking about the talents in 2013, we also need people willing to argue, debate and reject with diverse views. That will take time to develop. Premier Wen once said, "Children need to think for themselves." But if you take the logic of that seriously, it means much more debates in the society than is currently the case.

Li Xiang: The number of Chinese students going to study in U.K. has been increasing over the years. What is your opinion on this issue?

Michael Barber: It's been wonderful for U.K. to have Chinese talents to come to study. It's a benefit for both China and U.K. There have been worries in U.K. about the extent of immigration. But to me, it would be a big mistake to prevent Chinese students to come to U.K. There are some colleges established which are not genuine and not real; it is just a way of getting the people in the country. So we do need to prevent those bogus colleges, but genuine students coming to genuine colleges, we want more of that. It's good for both China and U.K.

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