Amena Schlaijker makes her students cluck like chickens, mimic a toothbrush, jump up and down or pretend to die an agonizing death.
The aim is to make budding business leaders think outside the box.
It may sound extreme, but this is China, where students have grown up on rote learning and the ruling Communist Party has long discouraged creative thinking lest it lead to challenging authority.
“You can tell them to think outside of the box, but some employees don’t even have the concept of a box to begin with,” said Roy Magee, an Australian whose training company, AchieveGlobal, has operated in China since 1997. “We just have to go in and start from scratch.”
By Chi-Chi Zhang
Associated Press Writer
It comes as the government works on the economy’s next leap forward – to transform the nation’s industry from “Made in China” to “Invented in China.” Addressing parliament last year, President Hu Jintao spoke of making China a nation of innovators. At the same time, China is recognizing that as wages and land prices rise, it is no longer a cheap place to manufacture other countries’ products, and needs to invent its own to remain globally competitive.
While the state is spending billions of dollars on technology parks, research grants and art programs, the drive for creativity has spawned a market for classes run by foreign trainers like Schlaijker and Magee.
“It’s a matter of survival,” said Schlaijker, a Chinese-speaking American who works in Shanghai for ?What If!, a British marketing and employee-development consultancy.
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