How do you define education?
By the number and level of qualifications you obtain? By the prestige of the school you are able to attend? Or by your ability to apply and use knowledge to achieve meaningful objectives?
Too often the field of education receives bad press and the teaching profession harsh criticism, and common thought and initiatives can tend towards completely revamping the system, one which admittedly been in place for many hundreds of years if not longer.
While I may be the first to advocate the need for more effective learning strategies and optimal learning techniques, I do not directly believe in a strategy of complete upheaval.
You see for change to be truly successful, it needs to be built on and take into account what is already familiar.
It should also never be question of throwing out the baby with the bath water.
There are many fine institutions out there firmly dedicated towards providing an excellent education. However there are limitations to how far they can go and this is where initiatives like the Hult Prize coupled with mentorship programmes such as the one my colleague Andrew Klerck and I recently created and ran for the students participating in the Hult Prize at National Chengchi University (NCCU) can and do have far-reaching effects.
Truly, initiatives like this are so important in education.
On a first level, working side-by-side with leading institutions, they allow secure first-hand, real-life entrepreneurial experience at a level logistically it is not possible to write into academic programmes alone.
Secondly, by working in parallel with institutions and opening the opportunity across the fields, we reach far greater diversity and are able to give our students a truly complete education as the leaders of our future, with the skills not only to develop and lead great projects, but to create and build strong teams, resolve conflicts and overcome difficulties which classroom settings alone can never reach.
And third, drawing on my background as a learning engineer looking at the science of how the brain learns and psychology of adult learning behaviour, it is only when we reach that heightened level of experiential learning, one that brings in not only the real-life context, but also that degree of intense engagement, that strong level of emotion on both sides of the spectrum, it is only at this point that the academic becomes synonymous with the practical. The two collide to create a partnership in learning which will carry students to whole new levels and possibilities academia alone struggle to meet.
The potential benefits for this union are limitless.
This is why we need people like Philip Chang who works hard to promote the Hult Prize to universities across Taiwan and help them see the benefit of such initiatives and collaborations.
Students like Ana Victoria Herrera C., Emilia Gonzalez, Pammela Murphy, Marilyn Blanco, Patricia Rosita Tedjakusuma who take the initiative to organize competitions and prizes among their respective universities, which if you've ever put yourself forward for such a task will know is no walk in the park!
Professionals such as Dr Niven Huang, Ya-Chu (Olivia) Hsieh, Elisa Chiu, Kuan Chen, Gordon Yu, Clement Chow, Callum Porter-Harris, John Murn, Yadia Colindres and Guillaume Defer who give their time and expertise to support these events as judges or through workshops, yet always a source of inspiration to all the students involved.
Leading universities such as National Taiwan University (NTU), National Chengchi University (NCCU), Ming Chuan University (MCU), Tamkang University (TKU), Feng Chia University (FCU), and National Dong Hwa University (NDHU) who have already opened their doors to the Hult prize.
And this is where the catalyst effect of initiatives like the Hult Prize comes to light.
It is in bringing together these players, each essential for their unique individual role, that the real magic happens.
Because not only is education and experience fully consolidated, we are talking concrete projects which can create incredible impact on a global level!
So thinking constructive collaboration over rebuilding from scratch what are we now waiting for?
Let's not hold back.
The future is waiting.