Y2 Foundation for Future Education looks into the essence of human beings, exploring the infinite possibilities of education in the next generation.
From the industrial revolution to the current digital revolution, human society is facing unprecedented exponential growth and rapid change. In the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) era, how can children know what to learn and how to embrace the unknown in the future confidently？
Founded in 2017, Y2 Foundation for Future Education anticipates exploring the educational concepts supporting for developing children’s potentials. The Foundation wants to help children explore their lives and search for the value and standings in the world through education.
"When I reflect my experience, everything seems going well in my pursuit of higher education, work, and my own business. After my daughter was born, I just realized something missing in our formal education." Andy Chen, founder, and chairman of the Foundation sharing the story of how the Foundation began. "The birth of my child was a critical turning point in my life. It encourages me to start thinking about what "the meaning of life" and "the value of self-existence" are. It is a shame that life exploration has been missing in the education I have experienced in the past.”
The meaning of education: help all the children define their personal value and connect with the world
Andy said he and his wife, Cynthia Hang, are like all new parents who are extremely excited about the new life in their family but concerned how the children should encounter the rapidly changing future. "In the technology industry in particular, I am unsure whether standardized education can cope with the often-changing and a fast-growing future. Every child is an individual and should be treated as an adult since birth. Because of distinguished Individuals and uncertain future, education needs to be more diverse & innovative and encourages children to explore, find out who they are and their potentials. In other words, the main responsibility of future education is to let the children be the best of themselves and find the value in their existence. "
In the beginning, we just want to explore the possibilities of own children’s future education. Andy and Cynthia had visited various schools to find what they imagined in mind, inspired by the spirit of Chinese figure Mencius's mother who moved her home three times to better her son's education. They unexpectedly found Montessori education in one of their visits. "When I walked into the classroom, I was very impressed with their learning environment.” said Cynthia Hang, the founder, and CEO of The Foundation. "A Montessori classroom integrates children of mixed ages just like in the small society they belong to in the class. I thought I might hear adults giving orders and noise from the children, but all the children were focusing on doing tasks at their own pace based on their interests and choices. I saw a remarkable inner potential of what I observed in the class. Education should play a role in accompanying and supporting children to know and construct their own identities via experience activities. The children will, therefore, find their own connection with the world."
Build up a platform for future education under three pillars
By extending their love to other children, Andy and Cynthia established the Y2 Foundation for Future Education as an initiative to build a platform supporting diverse & high-quality future education. It is not easy to fulfill this vision. The Foundation has started the Montessori for Global Impact (MGI) project and will take a step-by-step approach to develop its impact. The MGI project is supported by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), founded by Dr. Maria Montessori, providing relevant literature and training. The project functions under three pillars: pedagogical research and development, professional teachers’ training and orientation, and lab school. In pedagogical research and development, the foundation cooperates with universities in Taiwan and abroad to conduct academic research, explore education methods reverent to Taiwan for a bigger impact. In regard to professional teachers’ training, it is expected to link up with the world teacher training center as well as to conduct a sponsored teacher training program. In the future, we hope to provide more diverse & appropriate choices for children and parents with our lab school. Ultimately, we are looking at the feasibility of promoting affordable Montessori education in Taiwan.
Huichun Chen is a teacher who attended 2018 sponsored teacher training program and now works for the Montessori Elementary School Experimental Education Group in Taichung. “The traditional teacher training system in Taiwan is very different from the Montessori training abroad. After returning to Taiwan, my teaching style has become more versatile and I can take a more holistic approach to evaluate students learning outcome as well as my teaching methods.” she said.
Another teacher, Xianwei Li, from Tainan shared his experiences at the same program in 2017“After the Montessori training program, I discovered the true meaning of education is not about preparing for exams but arousing children's interest and let them take initiative to learn how the world operates with confidence. From there, they can think about their position and responsibility in nature and society of the future.
Being an open-source platform, Y2 has organized an education forum - Asia Montessori Week and invited Montessori adolescent education experts of The Great Work Inc. from America to exchange ideas in Taiwan. In addition to sharing different perspectives from teachers, it is worth mentioning that Max Schubert, a 19-year-old Montessori graduate, who received Montessori education from kindergarten to high school had also attended the forum as a panelist. Max has been diagnosed with learning disabilities since childhood, but Montessori education has inspired him to grow and become a different person. "In my growing up years, Montessori’s greatest influence on me was how teachers treated us as adults and encouraged us to think in a global context. When I was in elementary school, my classmates and I once raised funds for natural disasters. Although we only raised 100 USD for the Red Cross, we still believe that we can make changes to the world. Until now, I still have such belief and curiosity to learn and take the following action. My future job will also be my career. I want to make Montessori education more accessible for minority or underprivileged children so they can be in such an educational environment as well."
Education empowers people to change the world
"Dr. Maria Montessori, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, did not advocate a teaching method specialized for early childhood education, but a philosophy for human & society development" Andy discovered this concept while exploring Montessori’s education philosophy, shared at the end of the interview. "In foreign countries, Montessori's initiative and philosophy are commonly implemented in kindergartens, nursery centers, primary schools, national high schools, universities, enterprises, elderly care, and other fields. It utilizes the local resources and enables people to find connections with their innate potentials, curiosities, and drivers in their community, society, and the world. Learning is not only an obligation for children but a lifelong learning attitude for everyone. This is how humans develop sustainability and harmony in society."
Finally, Cynthia mentioned her aspiration for the Foundation: "There is no absolute right or wrong in different education. Only if it is close to the parents' educational philosophy and the children's learning needs. Montessori is not the only answer to future education, but this is a time-resolved quenching experiment and a practical method through the verification of outstanding graduates globally. We hope our Foundation can promote this concept to the public, and call for more partners who share our belief in education to take action in the future."