The M Prize is the world’s first award in recognizing outstanding contributors in aesthetic education
On October 29th, 2021, the inaugural award for Aesthetic Education “Huamao Meiyu Award” or “The M Prize” ceremony, initiated by Mr Xu Wanmao, was held by the beautiful Dongqian Lake in Ningbo, China. The M Prize is the world’s first award in recognizing outstanding contributors in aesthetic education.
As an entrepreneur who promises to give back to education and society, Mr Xu, also the founder of Ningbo Huamao Foreign Language School, really deserves our respect and love. When explained the reason of initiating this award, Mr Xu said that during his times, “fighting illiteracy” in society was critical because people of his age had few financial support and resources to receive formal education; however, though the literacy rate has improved generally, yet people are facing a complex and ever-changing social circumstances in the contemporary society. Mr Xu thinks that aesthetics remain one of the most essential ways to preserve pure souls in persons. Therefore, it is imminent to improve the social atmosphere as a whole and to promote aesthetic education in our young generations.
The ceremony welcomed many prestigious guests and received many warm messages from worldwide. For example, both Mr. George Papandreou (the former Prime Minister of Greece) and Ms Irina Bokova (the former Director-General of UNESCO) sent us the congratulatory videos. Their congratulatory words are undoubtedly a vivid lesson in defining aesthetic education. In particular, we learnt “The root of the word aesthetic comes from the Greek word ‘aisthetike’.”; “The first and foremost ‘Aesthetics’ means being awake, being present, being aware. “; “It is the fleeting experience of beauty and the development of aesthetic tastes that allow us to become sociable persons, wrenching us from narrow egoism and form social and material dependencies“. We also learnt “involvement in arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking and verbal skills. Art learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence and team work.”; “aesthetic education, embracing art in all its diversity, is an essential component of a comprehensive education. Culture acts as a catalyst for economic and social development, recognized for the first time in the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030, adopted in 2015”. The M prize was presented to our two great artists – Mr Alvaro Joaquim de Melo Siza Vieira (Portuguese master architect) and Mr Quan Shanshi (Chinese oil Painting master), for their master pieces had very well triggered our appreciation and pursuit of excellence in art and aesthetics education.
The M prize received huge responses and compliments among our teachers, students and parents. Many wrote in to the school to express their thoughts and feelings and how the M prize inspires them and to a certain extent, leads everyone in school to comprehend and better understand the ‘true meaning’ of aesthetic education.
In line with President Xi Jinping’s saying, “we live in a world with different cultures, ethnic groups, skin colors, religions and social systems, and the people of the various cultures have become members of an intimate community of shared destiny.” As an academic subject in the school curriculum, art is integral to the holistic development of every student. Art fosters students’ sense of identity, culture and place in society as it constitutes an important way of knowing and learning about self, others and the world around us. It is a form of language through which personal meanings are generated and cultural identities are formed. It provides an avenue for our students to develop self and social awareness and appreciate the unique Chinese forms of expression that are anchored on national values, demonstrating love for the country and socialism. At the same time, students would be able to understand and appreciate cultures and traditions beyond China. This enables our students to develop respect for themselves and others, value harmony and thereby cultivate their global awareness and cross-cultural communication skills for the 21st century.
We believe that through aesthetic education, we can ennoble students and endow them with the necessary skills believed to be necessary in this VUCA world. This is also in line with our bilingual division’s vision, “Learners with character, Leaders with global perspectives”.