Innovative educator attract world's eye

Updated: 2014-06-27 17:56

By Zhang Yue (

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As China's New Education Experiment begins to attract global attention, with a prestigious nomination for honors by the 2014 World Innovation Summit for Education, Xu Xinhai was overjoyed that his efforts to incorporate Western ideas into Chinese education were finally being recognized by an international society.

The organization works to guide students toward a more well-rounded education and more meaningful life experience during childhood, rather than devoting disproportionate time studying for exams.

The WISE Awards, initiated by Qatar Foundation, will be announced in September.

The New Education Experiement is the only program from China to be nominated this year, joining an elite list of 14 other programs worldwide.

Xu, 47, has been working as the head of the education department of Haimen county, Jiangsu province, for eight years.

All the 42 middle schools, 45 elementary schools and more than 50 kindergartens in the county have applied the New Education Experiment, often at Xu's enthusiastic urging.

Before Xu became the local education head, he spent one year at the University of South Australia as a visiting scholar. That was in 2004.

By that time, Xu was working as the head of a primary school in Haimen, trying to work out better ways to enrich students' lives.

The one-year stay opened his mind, he said. He visited more than 30 primary and middle schools in South Australia and listened to 500-plus classes. He wrote his observations and reflections in his diary, which was published when he came home.

After Xu's return, he began to work at Haimen's education department, where he became acquainted with Zhu Yongxin, founder of the NEE. They soon found that their ideas had many similarities.

With Xu's support, all the schools in Haimen have joined the NEE program since 2005.

The concept requires students and teachers to read more books. Xu also maintains his habit of studying daily. He makes colored labels for his notebook and keeps his reading notes on his micro blog, which he has about 3,000 followers.

"He is a person that carries out actions with strong determination and never stops learning," Zhu said.