Education of Civilizations

AIED Council hosted the 2013 International Education Development Forum on April 9-11 in Beijing. We had many fine speakers throughout the event, which had the theme of "Opening the Door and Creating a Culturally Powerful Country." We will be rolling out articles on the event over the next few weeks for our continuing forum and conference coverage. - Ryan Allen- 

Dr. Robinson

Dr. Steve Robinson, of SAIS, speaking at AIED Council's Forum in Beijing

Education of Civilizations
How the Chinese and American civilizations shaped education

In 1992, Samuel Huntington wrote about the impending “Clash of Civilizations.” He posited that we were all doomed to an eventual struggle for world supremacy. Dr. Steve Robinson, President of Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS), a consortium of over 370 independent elementary and secondary schools, countered this clashing notion in a speech titled “The Essentials of Sino-American Educational Exchanges and Collaboration” at American International Education Development (AIED) Council’s 2013 International Education Development Forum, in Beijing.

“All great civilizations have understood that the education of its youth is the surest path to sustaining and furthering its greatness,” opened Dr. Robinson, in a prepared speech written for the forum.

Chinese civilization has put much value on education, inventions like the printing press, gun powder, the compass, and block printing illustrates its collective genius, according to the SAIS President.

 He stated that there is no doubt that China’s greatness today can largely be traced on the education of its youth, past and present. “The words of Confucius still inform the education of Chinese youth some 2.5 millennia after his life,” he said.

Although, the United States cannot compare to longevity of Chinese civilization, it too has a foundation of excellence in education. Dr. Robinson again alluded to inventions as proof of this—from mass production of automobiles to space travel—as well as to the American higher education system, or the “shining star” of America’s commitment to education as he dubbed it.

US-China Collaboration

 “Children that enter our schools in grade one this year will graduate from college in 2030. In 2030 it is most likely that China and the US will be required to collaborate and work together to ensure a stabilized world and a sustainable future for mankind,” he said. “Only a world where collaboration among nations occurs will help to ensure the long-term sustain ability of the earth and the future civilizations that share her skin, and I suggest that this collaboration must start with China and the United States.”

In order to ensure this sustainable future, Chinese and American students must work, live, and study together, according to Dr. Robinson. This will provide each with an “empathy” that is crucial in order to solve “global issues.”

Dr. Robinson lauded the creation of partner schools to help facilitate cross-cultural understand, on multiple levels: teacher-to-teach, student-to-student, leadership-to-leadership.

These cross-cultural relationships do not have to be done through traditional physical exchanges, rather, online interactions through Skype, email, or even virtual laboratories can be effective alternatives, he stressed.      

AIED Council, the forum host, is currently working to create these types of exchanges through their cross-cultural programming. They have already brought over students and educators from China to visit the US, as well as have sent American educators to China.

“Through cross-cultural educational collaboration, students develop empathy for other cultures. It is through these collaborations that today’s students, who are tomorrow’s leaders, learn to work together and speak a common language around problem solving,” finished Dr. Robinson.

The  future is counting on it.

Dr. Robinson's Full Speach:

This article was written by Ryan Allen. If you have questions about the forum or AIED Council, please email him at

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