Esteemed guests, partners, colleagues, and friends, welcome to 'Learning in a changing world'.

This collaboration between the Yidan Prize Foundation and the OECD will explore how we can build resilient, future-focused education systems, based on a foundation of learning from evidence and embracing creativity.

Before we get started, I must extend my warmest thanks to the OECD Education Team for many years of friendship and partnership. Our history of working closely together includes research on growth mindset with Yidan Prize laureate Carol Dweck, and building research skills in Africa with laureate Eric Hanushek.

I am also grateful to Andreas, OECD Director for Education and Skills, and the head of the judging panel for the Yidan Prize for Education Research. He has a keen sense for the most effective ideas in education and the people behind them. These ideas showcase the power of creative thinking—something we will be exploring in detail over the next two days.

Creativity can be difficult to define. Every culture has its own interpretation. Every language provides its own nuance. But we know it when we see it.

We often talk about creativity in two ways. The first is the power to imagine — to see an issue or problem in a different way. The second is the ability to “make” — literally to create.

Put together, then, we can think of creativity as the ability to produce new ideas, things, insights, or behaviors.

And creativity excites us. Our thoughts race, or we feel the rush of magic in seeing the world from a different perspective. We can all think of a great book, a radical piece of art, or even a conversation that changed our point of view. Sometimes, it’s a technology that changes the way we all live — like the rapidly developing AI models.

How did the writer, artist, and inventor imagine something completely new? Where did they get the skills to turn an idea into something tangible? How did researchers and developers envision such powerful Models? How did they endow machines with imagination and creativity across diverse domains?

Traditional Taoism tells us that the Tao begets one, one begets two, two begets three, and three begets infinity. Tao starts from chaos and is the primitive order out of — and imaginative reordering of — chaos. Imagination is followed by actualization. Actualization involves expertise and critical thinking, and more often than not, many people working collaboratively.

Many Yidan Prize Laureates are imagining a new way of educating young people and building pathways forward. We can see this in Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset; Vicky Colbert’s approach to collaborative learning; Micki Chi’s ICAP framework for active learning; and Carl Wieman’s work on science education. They are helping to unleash the power of young people to ‘imagine’ and to ‘create.’

In the vast landscape of the AI era, the revolutionary impact is unquestionable. Yet, how to adapt and evolve remains a topic of ongoing exploration and validation. Circling back to education, the internet age connected educational systems with tools and information, but the AI age is set to profoundly transform the very bedrock of education. This is the groundbreaking challenge we are about to dive into. Creativity, evidence, and innovation will be the key drivers steering us through uncharted waters.

All around us, we see examples of how creativity comes to life through adaptive expertise, critical thinking, and collaboration. That makes it part of an ecosystem with innovation and evidence.

Innovation is the process that takes us from imagination to action, and helps us evolve ideas as we go. To take those steps successfully, we need evidence to inform us—which in turn sparks fresh thinking.

When we have all three elements working together, they are not so much street lights showing the way from A to B, as an intricate map that lights up our world and connects us together.

And it’s essential that we do. After all, our fast-changing world has many problems like poverty, inequality, conflict, and climate change which defy easy answers. Creative minds will help us imagine solutions and build them. The capacity to engage with another person’s creativity can reshape our world view, and bring us to a new place of understanding.

In essence, a creative mind is an open mind. That’s something students, teachers, schools, systems, and policymakers all need to embrace.

Over the next two days, we’ll all hear about insights that can help us reimagine the future of education to do just that. I am very pleased to be here with you, and look forward to our discussions and the transformative ideas that will spring from them.

Thank you!

Charles CHEN Yidan 
Founder, Yidan Prize  
18 Jun 2024