Kindergarten AI curriculum concerns parents

By Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/22 22:58:44

A 33-edition set of books on artificial intelligence (AI), designated for curriculum of kids attending kindergarten through 12th grade, has stirred concerns on Chinese social media about whether it is proper to have such lessons during grade school.

Photos recently circulated on China's twitter like platform, Sina Weibo, showed various covers of AI textbooks for students of different grades.

Henan People's Publishing House confirmed with the Global Times on Thursday that it had published this series of textbooks in August, which is in line with the national education agenda regarding AI.

"After the central government highlighted the development of AI in 2017, we've been planning to publish this series, which is also the first comprehensive one covering preschool, primary school, high school and college," an employee surnamed Li at the publishing firm, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Some Chinese parents said they think it is too early for kindergarten students to have AI education, as they will have a hard time understanding what AI is really about. "My child used to have classes about programming, but he didn't really understand the content, and my husband did the homework for him," said a Beijing-based woman, who has a 6-year-old son.

Starting AI-related study in early education could arouse interest among young children, which will help the development of this sector in the future, Li Yi, a senior research fellow at the Internet Research Center under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. 

In July 2017, the State Council, China's cabinet, issued a plan for the development of new-generation AI technology, pledging to make the sector a major engine that would improve people's lives by 2020 and make the country a global center and leader of AI innovation by 2030.

"However, teachers should avoid just telling kids complicated concepts, instead, they can popularize science and technology by showing comics," Li Yi noted.

Students will have 20 lessons with these books in each semester, Jiangsu Science and Technology News reported in September.

"There is some fundamental programming knowledge in the textbooks for kindergarten children, and it will bring them into contact with AI," Li the publishing firm employee said.

He also mentioned that these textbooks have been finalized with the help of AI experts from US tech-giant Google and the Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Posted in: SOCIETY

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