Ep. 21: Classroom Without Walls with Dr. Ai

In this conversation with Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang, Ziz and Pam explore the changing landscape of education. Dr. Ai, an entrepreneur, and self- described ‘disruptive educator,’ shares what she’s learned in her transition out of the classroom to ‘real world’ education: Start with the heart. Listen to what students are passionate about because pursuing their interests will make learning more engaging.

Start with meaning. Ask, ‘who are you and what are your strengths?’ It requires interest, relationship, and safety. If you don’t have those three components, it’s not learning. It is just absorbing content. Project-based learning is the best model based on the 70-20-10 rule, which suggests that 70% of what we learn is experiential, 20% is social learning, while only 10% is formal learning. For transformation to happen, people need to practice, fail, and learn from their mistakes. With the skills of collaboration, adaptability, and communication, we can innovate and create the job we want.

According to Dr. Ai, the higher the GPA, the more obsessed children are with their academic performance, the less likely they are to innovate. Disruptive students own their opinions and feel good about who they are. Today, more than ever, we are seeing the need to disrupt education and redefine what it means to be educated in the 21st century.


Viktor Frankl

Jo Boaler

Duncan Wardle

Gary Vaynerchuk

Why Happiness Should Not be the Goal for our Children


Seth Godin

Ivy Untold


Dr. Ai: “I think a good education experience involves the mind, the head, and the heart. Oftentimes, we think that to educate, we only need to work on the mind, the brain, to learn this and memorize that. That is important but it’s only part of the picture. The bigger part is to inspire the heart. If the heart is ready, if they want to learn something, they can easily go online to figure this out.”

Dr. Ai: “I think the missing piece is the heart because most children’s hearts are asleep, they are numb. They are not interested in getting up and going to school.”

Dr. Ai: “No child is standardized so why do we use a standardized curriculum? Every kid is different.”

Dr. Ai: “When you have people from different countries, from different backgrounds, from different educational backgrounds to challenge you, and to have a conversation with you, to collaborate with you, that’s the very first step to deconstruction and reconstruction.” 

Dr. Ai: “If we want our children to become innovators, to become disruptive leaders, the traditional GPA is not a good benchmark. It is a good benchmark for how obedient you are, how predictable your career is, but not so good in terms of innovation, creativity, and thinking outside the box.”

Pam: “Our world has changed so fast and dramatically that it isn’t just this little shift in an evolutionary period. In the past 15 years, because of what’s happened in globalization and the internet, new types of ways to do business have exploded. Entrepreneurial skills are needed to constantly pivot and change, adapt, and adjust.”

Pam: “We need to teach children to see, to be constantly looking for opportunities and things that matter to them. This is the discovery of meaning.”

Pam: “Embrace uncertainty. We keep teaching our kids that the world is certain and it’s not. It is uncertain. We need to prepare them for the uncertainty and instead, we prepare them for happiness. We want them to be happy. But it is not a goal. You need a reason to be happy. Happiness is a byproduct of doing something you care about or being with someone you care about.”

Pam: “The goal is to teach people to deal with life, to deal with the good, bad, ugly, messy, whatever, of life. The goal is for our children to embrace uncertainty, overcome fear, to be outside of themselves, knowing that there are a lot of us. Build your tribe, get support, and away we go.”

About Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang:

Dr. Ai is a professor turned entrepreneur. She taught in the classroom for 10+ years and has helped more than 2K students achieve career success. She produces live content multiple times a week to interview leading industry professionals and teach beyond the walls.

Watch her interview with Seth Godin who encouraged her to explore the purpose of education and what we can do to help our children become future-ready, creating successful and fulfilling lives.

FOLLOW Dr. Ai ON SOCIAL: LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Join her WhatsApp Group to stay informed.

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