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First-class talents cultivation requires backing to its common sense
Author:Peng Yuwen  Date:2019-11-01  Clicks:

China’s Education Modernization 2035 plan has put forward the strategic task of improving  first-class talents cultivation and enhancing their innovation capability. This not only focuses on the prominent problems and weaknesses in the current education development, but also serves as the key deployment of strengthening the cultivation of first-class talents based on the current and long-term perspective. In order to make a new breakthrough in this new era of education modernization, innovative cultivation of first-class talents is a must with the educational supply-side reform as its core. It requires, in the first place, improvement of the quality of education supply with reform and innovation as the guide and emphasis on releasing and developing productivity to better meet the needs of providing fair and quality education and to promote the sustained and healthy development of education by strengthening high-quality supply, reducing ineffective supply and expanding effective supply. From this point of view, to strengthen the cultivation of first-class talents, the following points required extra stress:

Back to the initial aspirations and essence of college education

Cultivating high-level talents is the primary task of universities, and their essential function is talent cultivation with undergraduate education as its root, which plays a programmatic and fundamental role in higher education. As the important source of cultivating first-class talents, universities should trace the essence of education in the educational idea, thoughts, quality and culture, and provide high-quality and effective service for first-class talents cultivation so that they can accord with the requirements of social development, knowledge accumulation, cultural heritage, national existence and operation.

The return shall be taken in several aspects. Firstly, it is vital to solve structural contradictions, eliminate blind expansion and upgrade of disciplines against the current inadequacy of quality higher educational resources. In the meantime, to avoid irrational pursuit of large and comprehensive development while focusing on major construction, both optimizing the structure and strengthening the connotation in order to dissolve overcapacity and invalid supply for better efficiency of supply. Furthermore, since the education equality is an inevitable problem in the talents cultivation, it is supposed to promote the transformation of public higher education from homogenization to individuation with modern information technology. It requires the new concept of “elite education” and diversified concept of quality regarding higher education of the new era. The conflict between talent cultivation and the essence of university education is expected to be avoided and fairness and efficiency should be balanced.

Back to the nature of organization in university

As academic organizations, universities have special organizational features, especially in  their governance. The cultivation of first-class talents should be based on universities and be consistent with their organizational goals, governance system and cultural attributes, etc. Although the cultivation is related to the support of the government, enterprises and other social organizations, universities are not administrative bodies or economic organizations. Therefore, the nature of organization in university should be respected. For example, universities are often confused when determining their goals, and the reason is although the talent cultivation is necessarily connected to functions like scientific research and social service, it is in reality hard to judge whether there is a necessary connection among them, to distinguish their scope from each other and their respective position in the overall goals of universities, especially hard to integrate and coordinate these goals.

Faced with such confusions, we need to grasp two points in particular. First, talents cultivation should be practically manifested as an important foundation in the organizational goals of universities. We should adhere to a “nature-oriented” principle, putting undergraduate education at the core of talents cultivation, the foundation of teaching and education, and the forefront of educational development in the new era. Also, it highlights the prominence of first-class talents cultivation in the organizational goals of first-class universities. Second, it is a need to accurately grasp and make full use of the organizational goals of universities. In fact, this kind of confusion is perhaps the rational demand in higher development level to highlight universities’ characteristics, reserve academic space, and create a flexible innovation atmosphere. When we think the nature of higher education, we are bound to face ambiguous, loose and dynamic college goals, which may provide first-class talents cultivation with good cultural atmosphere full of innovation, flexibility and openness if dealt properly.

Back to the law of talent growth

As the high-level demonstration of university cultivation, first-class talents should advance more in the aspects of ideal and belief, patriotism, moral integrity, knowledge and experience, striving spirit, and comprehensive quality, etc. This is the requirement of high-standard moral education. Talent growth has its basic rules so that first-class talents cultivation should return to its common sense, i.e. diligence, truth seeking and real competences.

In the developmen of market economy, universities, influenced by the market mechanism, have experienced a customer-oriented trend, alienating their student-centered educational idea, and accommodating unreasonable needs of students and their parents, which has impaired the quality of talents cultivation. Thus this dilemma should be broken. To cultivate first-class talents needs to change educational idea and implement the concept of centering on students growth from supply side, so as to provide them effective educational supports such as majors, courses, classroom teaching, and practice teaching, in accordance with educational spirit and law of talent growth. Educational supplies should guide demands while create new demands and get them optimized. Moreover, we should lay a solid foundation for the first-class talents cultivation, reasonably “burdening” undergraduates, each of whose learning achievements should reflect connotation construction and improvement of education.

Back to the core of teaching power

University is an independent legal entity and needs to construct a corporate governance structure with political power, administrative power, academic power, teaching power, democratic power and capital power as the core, so as to ensure the effective realization of university functions. However, teaching power has been neglected for quite a long time with inadequate understanding of the power attribute of teaching work, so that the importance of teaching power fails to attract enough attention in university’s governance structure.

Teaching power is manifested in the control and decision-making power of teachers in carrying out teaching activities, which is the basic element of teaching operations and lays an authoritative basis for pedagogical performance of teachers. Their teaching power is directly and closely associated with a series of problems involved in teaching activities, such as curriculum system construction, textbook compilation, curriculum setting, teaching content, teaching method and mode innovation, including exemplary power in dispute for a long time. As the leader and guide of teaching activities, teachers should have and can fully use their teaching power to provide learners with adequate and effective educations and teachings. Teaching power is by no means political power or administrative power that are obviously authoritarian, hierarchical, compulsory and unitary, but it still centers on its guidance and authority, distinctly reflecting the strong academic, autonomous and professional characteristics, with teachers’ personalities expressed.

Talents cultivation is based on teaching and teaching power should be highly stressed in university management. In fact, the long prominent problem of “despising teaching” is directly related to neglecting teaching power. The cultivation of first-class talents should return to the essence of education and highlight the teaching power by constructing scientific and effective university governance structure, in which the teaching power should be clarified, scientifically allocated and effectively deployed. On top of that, as requested by the principles of education and teaching, we should promote teaching institutions and give teachers proper power in teaching activities, strengthening their sense and standardized use of teaching power, so as to guarantee first-class talents cultivation from institutional level.

The cultivation of first-class talents is linked with the great mission of China’s development and rejuvenation. President Xi Jinping has pointed out that “the foundation of a university lies in cultivating people with morality and only by cultivating first-class talents can a university become a world-class university.” Bearing the important task of cultivating first-class talents, Chinese universities should proceed to it by educational supply-side reform, with educational ideas renovated, educational methods innovated, educational system promoted, educational resources improved, educational structure optimized, and educational quality upgraded.

Rewritten by: ZHU Tong, edited by Zhang Shiqi, Shen Yuxi and Hu Sijia


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