I never let schooling interfere with my educationMark Twain
Is today’s education system still relevant and does it adequately prepare children for future success? The above quote strongly resonates with Wuan Xin, an authority in this field who we were fortunate to gain valuable insights from on this matter. Not only to learn, but to take action in supporting our youth.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion.
I’m Wuan Xin TEH, the Founder and CEO of AI Talent. I provide children with an entrepreneurship platform through English language centers, homeschools and private schools. My company was started in Malaysia and has since expanded to 7 other countries including Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Cambodia.
While I have degree in Environmental Science and previously worked in a consulting firm, my passion for children education started prior – during my time teaching children with special needs. I realized then that all children need education which supports them to be ready for their future workplaces.
When I was in school, I kept asking questions like ‘How do we apply what we learn? Why are we learning this? Is it even useful?’. Thus, my goal is to allow children to have hands-on, practical experience and explore many industries. For me, it’s more important that they learn entrepreneurial skills which supplement the academic curriculum taught through formal education.
I believe in “Building children who inspire others”.
What inspired your desire to prepare children for success in their future workplaces or businesses?
I started my first business selling t-shirts when I was 14 years old. That experience showed me that there’s a huge “gap” between what we learn in school and the actual workplace.
While I was the Leo Advisor for Segi College Subang Jaya‘s Leo Club, I realized that whenever I asked the college students “What do you plan to do in the future?”, the common answer were “I’m not sure”. When they were asked “Why did you choose this course?”, they replied with “because my friend recommended it”. This is when I realized that we needed to do something before they enroll in college.
I have many friends who are entrepreneurs, or industry experts and I thought – why not gather these people, and provide a platform for children to engage and experience the real business world? Subsequently, we started AI Talent, a platform to expose children to future workplaces.
Identify some of the shortcomings in the educational system.
While different countries have different education systems, there are several common shortcomings:
- The educational scope does not holistically cover all required areas – most formal education focus on a fixed set of academic curriculums, which, although important, does not cover the soft skills and entrepreneurial traits that drive success in the workplace.
- The delivery approach does not drive effective knowledge transfer – most formal education employs classroom learning that is mostly static and theoretical. There’s a strong focus on knowing the material and passing examinations, rather than having children experience and enjoy the process of learning itself.
- It’s process-driven, and does not create strong alignment – formal education focuses on what children need to learn without a strong emphasis on why this knowledge is important or how to apply it in real life.
These 3 shortcomings often lead to children having a lack of interest in learning – seeing formal education as a demotivating chore that they have to go through, rather than enjoying the process. The lack of motivation ultimately leads to poor knowledge absorption and retention.
How could these shortcomings be addressed and/or corrected?
We provide project-based learning with a strong focus on knowledge application. In our projects, we provide opportunities for children to solve ‘scaled down’ real world problems. Some examples include designing their own products, marketing their own products on social media, practicing their sales pitches, running their own customer surveys and even calculating the profitability of their own products.
Our program is designed in such a way that children learn how to communicate and work as a team. In a team setting, all members play their respective roles to turn their creative ideas into real world solutions. On top of that, as our program is designed to be project-based, we rotate our industry partners. This way, our students gain exposure to various industries and functions while offering creative solutions to real problems faced by our partner companies.
In addition, we deploy an iterative, continuous improvement-based learning approach to challenge the conventional and push boundaries. Teams design initial solutions, pilot, and collect feedback from teams and mentors, then continuously refine their solutions over several iteration cycles. The combination of this practical, hands-on approach with group-based learning, leads to high knowledge absorption and retention.
Lastly, as we further expand internationally, our students will gain further global exposure – to learn about cultural differences and how to respect other cultures.
Why is it important for parents to give their children a head-start for future workplace readiness and at what age would you recommend children to start your program?
“Each child only has about 157,680 hours before he/she turns 18“. This phrase caught my attention while I stumbled across this CNN article titled Why Tiger Moms are Great. I couldn’t agree more with the message of how education time is precious – especially when we talk about your child’s limited time to build character and be equipped with skills to excel in life.
At AI Talent, our program is designed for children aged 7 to 17 years old, in partnership with co-founder Dr. Nicholas, an experienced child psychologist and professional therapist. Evidence has shown that children have increased levels of creativity and eagerness to learn at these ages.
Thus, we recommend that children start as early as possible as some skills take years to master. For example, listening- and communication skills with leaders and their teammates. Throughout our program, our students also learn in-person and on-camera presentation skills, to be resourceful and come up with innovative and creative ideas in designing projects etc.
At AI Talent, children do not only get a head-start in building their workplace knowledge, but their character growth as well.
Some accolades of Wuan Xin and AI Talent include:
Founding member of Food Ninja (Digi Business Challenge Top 3), President of LIONS Club of Kuala Lumpur Capital, Cohort 4 in Axiata Young CEO Development Program (80 being selected out of 3000 applicants) and Top 10 companies in MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre) GAP Cohort 4.
We commend and thank you for the great work you are doing in building future leaders and preparing our children for future success!
Follow Wuan on LinkedIn