Lili Ma, from the Dipont Institute of Education, talks about why she loves working for Dipont, the changing landscape of education in China and an exciting opportunity to join her team.
Lili Ma is the Director of Curriculum Design and Development, Grades 1 – 9, based in the headquarters of Dipont Education in Shanghai, China. She has worked with the company for more than 12 years and has a wealth of experiences, memories and achievements from this time.
Here she talks about why she loves working for Dipont, the changing landscape of education in China and an exciting opportunity to join her team.
You’ve been working with Dipont for a long time. What has kept you here?
Dipont is a very innovative company. Every year I can embrace new ideas, which means I’m always studying, learning, improving, and creating. I can always learn from different people from different programs. I think that’s the thing I love about working with Dipont the most.
What is your team currently working on?
The Dipont Institute of Education is structured into two departments. My department is focused on Grade 1 to Grade 9, so Primary and Lower Secondary, while the other department is focused on Grade 10 and above, so High School. The overall goal for both departments is to continuously improve and support the teaching and learning in our schools.
In recent years, the Chinese government has introduced new policies related to compulsory education. Specific standards and examinations have always been a part of the Chinese National Curriculum (CNC). The big change is that now all schools must integrate these standards into their own curriculum. An example of this is the zhongkao, an important examination that students take in Grade 9. We now need to prepare our students in the years leading up to this important exam in addition to our existing curricula.
Our goal is to enhance teaching and learning through the development of integrated curriculum standards and educational resources. The integrated curricula are designed based on both CNC standards and western educational practice. The material we make needs to be in English and Chinese. That’s why we are currently recruiting more Chinese staff, and are also looking for expat education professionals to join our team.
▲ Lili’s team works to enhance teaching and learning in Dipont schools
You are recruiting for a Primary Academic Manager to join your team. Apart from strong subject knowledge and related experience, what personality traits will you be looking for in applicants?
You have to be very open-minded and flexible and have a growth mindset. You need to have very good communication skills, strong interpersonal skills, and especially cross-cultural skills. Because this position is not only about writing the curriculum in the office, it is also about communicating with teachers.
When you create and integrate a new curriculum in schools, you are actually challenging people’s mindsets and habits, which can be very difficult. So I would say that interpersonal and cross-cultural skills are very important.
What would be the unique challenges of this position?
Most teachers already work in schools, but the surroundings in the headquarters are very different, as is the routine, and pace of working. We have important deadlines to work towards as a team, and this way of working can be quite different from being only responsible for your students and your classroom.
When it comes to creating an integrated curriculum, it may be more challenging for expat staff than it is for Chinese staff. Everyone can always learn more about new standards and new methodologies. But expat teachers may need to learn more about the Chinese national standards, and the government requirements, as they wouldn’t have the same educational experiences as their Chinese colleagues. So this aspect may be quite challenging.
▲ Dipont HQ offers a stimulating working environment and incredible views
In your opinion, what is the most attractive thing about this position?
Everyone has their own passion. I would say, if you have always been a teacher, you may like to gain a new perspective on education. And if you are someone who likes to learn, study, research and create, then curriculum development would be a very good chance to do these things. It would give you a chance to explore your subject area very deeply, and to create something that integrates best practices in Chinese and western education. That is something that would be very attractive. At least it is for me!