I started to work at a worldwide non-profit organization in 2010, and I volunteered at first, then worked full time in four different countries. By 2017, I was about to leave the organization, but I faced a tough question, what am I going to do in the future?
In this article, I want to answer questions on why I would want to become a teacher, why I chose Moonshot Academy, and what I have experienced in the past six months working at Moonshot.
01 Why I want to become a teacher?
Having worked at AIESC, the world’s largest youth-run organization, for seven years, I have built up many connections and personal brands across the globe; as a result, I had many career choices. I knew someone who focused on products or marketing in the world top high-tech company, someone who was in charge of talent training in a century-old logistics company, and those who were doing operations in new education companies in Europe and Southeast Asia. All the team members, about 20 of them, had great job opportunities.
A few months before “graduating” from AIESEC, most of them had multiple offers in their hands already. Even the worst job offer, the salary was starting at 400,000 RMB, approximately 60,000 dollars a year. Although I also had several job offers, I still thought they were not suitable. So I decided to take a break and think carefully before making any decisions. There were a few questions to consider.
First of all, what is a meaningful job for me?
In my opinions, there are three types of industries: deceptive industries, essential industries, and industries that fulfill personal achievement. I completely distrust deceptive sectors, such as selling “Happy Fun Water (water that claimed to help digestion),” “Magical Shampoo,” or “Cheap Fashion,” these hoax industries that assume the world’s resources are inexhaustible.
For some common industries, I recognize their worth for the time being, as they allow many people to gain a sense of meaning from their work and support their family’s living. However, in my ideal world, those industries would not exist, and neither would I want to put my time and effort into those industries. In terms of my personal values, a sense of meaning should be based on continuous self-growth and self-actualization. The industries I recognize the most are those helping people grow, directly or indirectly. Of course, I expect these industries would not accelerate the world’s unsustainable development, while the industrial productions are achieving their own goals.
Secondly, What is my strength?
I’ve been full of curiosity since childhood, and I like to explore the boundary and essence of everything. This quality schooled me to obtain creativity for seeking differences and learning ability to acquire knowledge and skills quickly. I can also learn stories from the bottom of people’s hearts by sincerely talking and listening to them, and that’s how I took to conversations, especially in-depth conversations. Often, I desire for answers, but I desire even more to design a wonderful question and create a scene where this question can be answered in many different ways. Being able to connect with people deeply, to build trust, to explore the essence, and to create authenticity, I have gradually become the “trump card” I am good at playing.
Lastly, What are some transferrable skills do I have?
Despite majoring in engineering, I’ve worked in fields like sales, business operation, digital marketing, after-sales, human resources, learning-and-development, etc. Working at AIESEC has injected me with the “Act on it when you can” spirit. Most of the time I spent at work was communicating with different people constantly. Last year with the Global VP project, I spent every day preparing documents, shooting videos, answering questions online, and holding various meetings to communicate strategies and give feedback about execution plans. Although it was a huge project to communicate with over 40,000 volunteers in more than 120 countries and regions, I learned how to design different scenes for effective communication across different cultures and different time zones. Very often, a Q&A session across the 24-hour time zone is required.
After all the considerations, I do believe becoming an educator is what I recognize and also am good at. A gap of less than one year, I moved back to China from Europe, unpacked my luggage, and traveled to India and Nepal with a smaller bag. During the travel, I have identified my highest executive principle and value — to evolve. Through education, I hope to help more people and also our organizational form to evolve. Upon settling the problem of what I want to be and taking action to actualize my ideal career; however, I faced more questions.
What kind of education can help people evolve most effectively?
To achieve the best educational results, what age group should I focus on?
What is the tipping point of evolutionary education?
Where can I find a group of like-minded partners with dreams and courage to practice?
By coincidence, or perhaps it was predetermined by destiny, with all my questions, I received an invitation to an event after attending a friend’s wedding in India.
02 Why Moonshot Academy?
On February 9, 2018, as soon as the plane landed at the Capital Airport of Beijing, I hauled my luggage and hailed a taxi to the Affiliated High School of Peking University directly. I didn’t even know what kind of event it was, but it was strongly recommended by my friend. Thus, I came to the event hall and sat down in a corner. I was unshaved and wearing a thin coat against the cold weather in Beijing.
It was a very emotional opening remark with inspirational publicity videos. The speaker’s powerpoint slides presented the audience with a clear picture of Moonshot Academy’s perception of the modern era, their understanding of education, and specific plans for the new school. Two hours went by in a flash. I was really impressed by this group of people who were putting real efforts into education. They were trying to answer some questions that had been on my mind for a long time, yet with no idea how to figure them out.
“How to inspire people’s enthusiasm for learning?”
“What are the skills truly in demand for the future?”
“Do you believe that students are natural learners?”
I rushed to the platform once the Q&A was over. I didn’t know what to say, but only to have gasped out my admiration for Moonshot to Dr. Qian, a notable figure in the education community.
Later, I talked with Ellen, the Chief Cultural Officer at Moonshot, for a really long time, with the least consideration if I had shocked her with my enthusiasm. I would really like to join this amazing team. I couldn’t resist expressing my love at first sight with Moonshot, but I was also overwhelmed with self-doubt. The team was teeming with experienced extinguished individuals in the industry. Despite seven years of experience in youth leadership development, I still felt I am not good enough for this academy, and I didn’t want to drag the whole team down, so I decided to enrich my experience somewhere else for a couple years and hope to join the team later.
Because at that time, while getting to know Moonshot Academy, I already received a job offer from a personal development and learning community in Malaysia, which would put me in charge of curriculum development. Many AIESEC schoolfellows worked for the organization, which meant it would be a platform where I could feel really comfortable, and also learn how to do curriculum development.
After the introduction to Moonshot Academy, Ellen had contacted me. It was during the Chinese new year celebration, I kept talking to Ellen. During our communication, she gave me a very relaxing feeling, and our conversations were less like interviews, but more about exchanging our beliefs, values, experiences, and expectations for the future. I repeatedly emphasized my self-doubt, but Ellen kept stressing my experiences and abilities, and her trust in me.
The trust that “she believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself” directly empowered me, and it reminded me of the “Act on it when you can” spirit. Later, when I asked Ellen why she believed me so much, she said it was her intuition in a person’s fundamental values based on her experience working at HR for 21 years. I still feel heart warm when I see Ellen in the office. I am very thankful for her.
In the office, we have a word on the wall: Civilization is in the race between catastrophe and education.
Perhaps I watched too much Black Mirror, but I do feel all the quick changes around me, whether it’s positive or negative. I think humans are facing many extremely intractable issues, including environmental deterioration, economic turbulence, challenges of AI, and mass unemployment. These are all challenges we need to tackle through better education. Walking on the street, I always try to enjoy the peace of the moment. However, I always wonder what the world would be like in 2049. Could we solve these issues by then? What are some new global challenges would we face? What I’m sure of is, I cannot await our doom. I hope that through the world I’ve experienced, I can help learners establish their self-knowledge and empathy for the world, and to take action to make positive changes.
I believe Moonshot is exactly such a place that delivers “fulfilled, compassionate, and active citizens” to this competition that is vital to human civilizations.
I clearly know if I want to promote educational innovation, I must interact with learners on the front line, experience what it feels like being a teacher, and accumulate well-designed teaching strategies.
Therefore, I decided to join Moonshot and become a front-line teacher, a practitioner of innovative education.
03 Six Months in Moonshot Academy
It has been half a year at Moonshot since my entry in June. During this period, learners enrolled in Moonshot, selected curricula, became leaders, and found their confidants. I was also preparing lessons, teaching, and accumulating learning data in the middle of nonstop designs and changes. Here, I would like to share several of my inspirations:
Marching Forward on the Road of Educational Innovation
Although everyone knows the need to respect learners’ interest, the advantages of project-based teaching, and the importance of evaluation and feedback. However, it is not so easy to put each of the tasks into practice. Many schools and institutions in China are known for their PBL programs, but only very few schools are seriously and thoroughly developing their curriculum system, curriculum design, and evaluation process. On the contrary, we can find some examples for reference in pioneering schools overseas, though each of the models has its challenges in implementation that cannot be ignored.
At Moonshot, we adhere to the core philosophy of learner-centered education. When applying it to course selection, it would lead to such questions as “Is it necessary to offer elective courses?” “Can students withdraw in the third week if they are not interested in my class?”
When applying it to curriculum practice, it would raise questions like, “Do I have the courage to build up a teacher’s authority without reference to my personal knowledge?” “How can I keep on top of the schedule of teacher-led and student-led courses?” “While designing a 10-minute classroom discussion, how can I listen to and record each student’s performance and give instant feedback?”
None of these questions can be solved by a simple philosophy, but they are seemingly easy but crucial challenges that can only be tackled through teaching strategies and the support of IT systems.
Be Modest, Be Confident
Each team member of Moonshot has his or her own shining points. Within only two months, Baobao refreshed my knowledge of taking notes; Brother Yang taught me how to look for valid information in a short time and making a causal judgment. Wen set an example for me as a Ph.D. researcher through her rigorous academic attitude and spirit of keeping on challenging the feasibility. I’ve experienced many inspiring moments, and at the same time, I’ve gradually found my own pace at Moonshot and come to realize the value of my past experiences at Moonshot. I have this feeling of connecting the dots to finally see the picture on how could evolve to a decent educator for the learners.
Work and Life Rolled into One
“I can’t wait for Monday to come. I don’t want to go home after work. I choose to work on weekends.” My roommate thinks I must be out of my mind, but working at Moonshot gives me a strong self-fulfilling feeling. One day, I said to Lu, “I’d rather work overtime on weekends because what I’m doing at this very moment is the most meaningful thing and the biggest source of happiness to me. So why not?” Another day, I said to Old Zhang, “See you at work tomorrow,” then he corrected me, “Not work, see you at PLAY tomorrow.” How many people are truly passionate about their work and enjoy working every day? I’m really grateful at present.
04 Final Words
Everyone was wearing heavy winter coats in school, but they felt no less cool when rushing down the lecture hall. At 8:55 in the evening, learners would pick up their bags and go to take the school bus by twos and threes. I enjoyed quite a while of peace in my office, organized my lesson plans, turned off the light, and rushed to get on the subway home.
In the crowd, an unforgettable yet peaceful day ended. Despite all the fatigue, I felt warm in my heart.
I want to thank Moonshot for gathering me a group of interesting people doing an interesting thing together in this busy city.
The article is wrote by Chunk 朝克, and he is a deeper learning teacher in Moonshot Academy.