We recently prepared the following draft funding proposal for circulation. In the LEAP’s spirit of the open experimentation and vulnerability we have shared it with the world. If you are interested in supporting us please get in touch!

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Executive Summary

This proposal seeks support to develop the LEAP, a new think/do tank for education in Taiwan that combines innovative student programs, teacher training, and policy research. Its purpose is to foster a wiser and weller educational culture in Taiwan – in particular, to accelerate the move from the existing “factory-style” model of cram-schools and rote-learning to a new one suited to the needs of the twenty-first century society and economy. Such a transformation is urgently required if Taiwan is to train and retain the talent to be competitive in a globalized post-industrial economy.

The twenty-first century economy requires new and deeper skills: creativity, autonomy, self-confidence, self-expression and critical thinking. The Taiwanese government has already  begun to implement reforms to adapt to these new needs. However, developing these new skills will take more than just a new policy: creativity cannot be rote-learned, self-expression cannot be crammed, critical thinking is impossible when must “listen and obey”.

Thus, all these skills require the development of a new educational culture. A new culture takes deep practice and experience and also requires we retain and attract people with these skills to come (back) to Taiwan. The LEAP exists to foster and accelerate this cultural transformation.  Specifically the LEAP will: run educational programs for students and teachers focused on the development of new skills; develop a network of expertise and changemakers both within Taiwan and by bringing experts and those with these skills into Taiwan, especially through re-engaging those from the elite of the Taiwanese diaspora and their networks; engage in research and dissemination looking at existing best practices in Taiwan and abroad.

Why is this needed?

Taiwan’s economy has developed rapidly over the past century but in the new digital age innovation, creativity and the ability to work autonomously are becoming crucial. Taiwan needs to train, attract and retain workers with these new skills.

The current education system and social climate is still geared towards a more traditional, hierarchical Confucian approach [to education] of “listen and obey”which does not produce the necessary skills that will work going forward as the industrial economy adapts to a post-industrial era.

The Taiwanese government is aware of these new needs. Current educational reforms aim to move beyond rote learning and to put autonomy at the centre of teaching.

The Challenge

However, current law and policies for educational reforms won’t turn into reality without a new educational culture. The twenty-first century economy requires new and deeper skills: creativity, autonomy, self-confidence, self-expression and critical thinking. But developing these will take more than just a new policy – and its new curriculum, textbooks and teacher training. It will require a new educational culture.

Creativity cannot be rote-learned, self-expression must be discovered, critical thinking is only possible when one can question. All these skills require evolving a new educational environment – and a new educational culture. Without an evolution in culture, teachers will still be stuck in the old mentality and applying their old tools. Yet, a new culture takes deep practice and experience and also requires to retain and attract people with these skills to come (back) to Taiwan.

What then can be done to create the culture and context to ensure successful implementation of new educational initiatives such as the current curriculum reforms; and lead to children, citizens and a society that is thriving and dynamic and prepared for the opportunities and challenges of the new economy; and that retains and attracts top talent both from Taiwan and abroad?

The Solution

We need to create educational environments and a new educational culture for the students and citizens of the future who will need new and deeper skills: creativity, autonomy, self-confidence, self expression and critical thinking.

The A/E/T educational Think+Do tank exists to make this happen. A new educational think/do tank that combines innovative educational programs, teacher training, and policy research. It will bring back Taiwanese and foreign talents with the skills to research and experiment with new methods and to share the resulting knowledge with students, teacher and policymakers.

The LEAP: an innovative think/do tank

Creating a new educational culture and environment requires pragmatic experimentation. Our approach is grounded in these principles:

  • Innovative, experimental, open-minded
  • Experiential and transformative learning – rather than informative learning

The think+do tank will have three/two interconnected streams of work:

  • Educational programs for students and teachers focused on the development of new skills.
    • The LEAP
    • Teachers beyond the classroom
  • A network of expertise [and changemakers]: Building a network of expertise both within Taiwan and by bringing experts and those with these skills into Taiwan, especially through re-engaging those from the elite of the Taiwanese diaspora and their networks.
  • Research and dissemination: Engagement in policy research, looking at existing best practices in Taiwan and abroad.

The LEAP summer and winter program

Purpose: An educational program to develop leadership, autonomy and self-expression for students. These programs combine practical training for students with teacher training and anti-brain drain action by:

  • 2 week immersive and personalised course for 30+ students and 5+core teachers.
  • Bringing experts and those with these skills into Taiwan, especially re-engaging those from the elite of the Taiwanese diaspora and their network. (2018 faculty members of the self-funded 2018 pilot program can be found on the LEAP website
  • Transmitting and training [future] local Taiwanese teachers by inviting them to come for a day and experiment with the team.

Teachers beyond the classroom

Purpose: Hosted before the LEAP, the Teacher Beyond the Classroom Program focused on leading Taiwanese teachers to experience and discover these new skills (leadership, autonomy and self-expression) themselves, so they are able to transmit them to the students. The program also aims to develop teacher engagement in education beyond the classroom and to be involved in education policy (Teachers are too rarely consulted as experts for education policy reforms and they feel disengaged). The program will invite various experts in education and other fields from europe (ex: Rufus, Liam, Laurie, Francois Taddei ) to interact in a deep sense with taiwanese teachers and develop a new culture through experiences. They will then be able to observe and interact with these new methodologies during the LEAP.

 What’s involved:

  • A 1 week immersive program a year
  • 25  teachers or school directors from Taiwan and 5-8  European and Global experts per time.
  • Inspired by the A/E/T Gathering but for teachers in Taiwan.
  • Learning from the best experts in Europe

Research, outreach, dissemination and network building

Purpose: To create a new culture and environment, there is a need to supplement research and experimentation through the educational programs (The LEAP and Teachers beyond the classroom) with non-practice-based research aimed at knowledge sharing and connecting expertise within taiwan and outside Taiwan to understand how new education cultures come about.

What’s involved:

  • Horizon scan: Report on the best practices to date for the development and the implementation of these new skills through teacher training and enrollment, at the school and national policy level. The report will also include a section on the best practices to turn these new education priorities into policy despite the difficulty of measurement for these new skills. 
  • Outreach, dissemination and network building: Sharing the findings with several stakeholders in Taiwan and create an international network of expertise led as a Taiwanese initiative, connecting Taiwanese experts and policymakers with others around the world through the A/E/T international network.

Who we are

The LEAP is an initiative of A/E/T (Art / Earth / Tech). A/E/T is a multi-disciplinary international network of experts, researchers and entrepreneurs founded by a group of Oxbridge scholars and graduates providing network, spaces and knowledge to build a wiser, weller world. The people leading the LEAP think+do tank are four half-Taiwanese education experts. (See Bios below)

Ninon Godefroy (co-founder and lead)

Ninon is co-founder of  Art/ Earth / Tech. She studied public Policy & Education at Oxford.

Sylvie Barbier (co-founder)

Sylvie is a co-founder of A/E/T. She is a performance artist, experience curator and Steiner educator.

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