‘She’s asking what your name is, Stupid!’
David Chiem, MindChamps’ Founder CEO, can still clearly remember being called ‘stupid’.
It was on his first day of school in Australia in 1978. David, aged 9, and his family had arrived in the country as ‘boat people’ after fleeing war-ravaged Vietnam, surviving a close encounter with murderous pirates and enduring life in a Malaysian refugee camp. “I arrived not speaking a word of English — not even hello,” he explains. “I can remember being called stupid in my own language by another student because the teacher was asking for my name, but I didn’t understand her.” Education was highly prized by David’s family, a mindset reinforced by their traumatic escape from Vietnam. “My father had a strong philosophy of never taking anything for granted, and my parents always said that the one thing no one could ever take from you was your education,” he says. “This gave me a very strong mindset, and I was determined to make a contribution.” That strong focus on education, coupled with his earlier trauma, pushed David to excel in his studies because his father had always wanted him to be a doctor.
At the age of 14, David landed the starring role on Butterfly Island, becoming the first Asian-Australian to be given a lead role on mainstream television and appearing on TV screens around the world. As a result, although he aced his Higher School Certificate, rather than studying medicine, he chose the path of his new-found passion to study acting and filmmaking. As he studied the craft of filmmaking, David had an epiphany. He became fascinated by the idea that there could be another way of teaching children. They faced far greater demands on their education than previous generations, so, instead of rote learning, drilling and memorising content, why not help children to understand how to learn and more importantly develop the mindset of enthusiastic, life-long learners? “While I always did well at school and enjoyed it, I saw that many students didn’t do so well. I became curious as to why. I began to suspect that it was because their education experience simply didn’t engage them,” he explains.
From the Stage to the Classroom
In 1998 he decided to follow his passion and founded MindChamps — a ground-breaking early learning educational organisation based on strategies derived from research in ‘the 4 Domains’ of Neuroscience, Psychology, Education and Theatre.
Since its inception in Sydney, MindChamps has grown from point zero to achieving the number one brand position in the highly competitive Singapore premium preschool space, with a market share of 38.5%.*
Preparing Children for Success in the 21st Century
MindChamps makes a difference in the lives of children by providing the best in early childhood curriculum and care. By synthesising and distilling more than two decades of research in cutting-edge enrichment programmes, the MindChamps research and programme development team developed a preschool curriculum that rapidly propelled the MindChamps model to its current industry-leading position. The MindChamps Global Research Advisory and Education Team is chaired by worldrenowned neuroscientist Emeritus Professor Allan Snyder, a Fellow of the Royal Society and Marconi Prize-winner. Professor Snyder is the researcher who studied and coined the term ‘Champion Mindset’, based on studies of the world’s great achievers, which enables every individual to become the best that they can be. MindChamps PreSchool offers programmes based on its research-based, revolutionary 3-Mind model of education: The Learning Mind promotes academic excellence; the Creative Mind frees the imagination; and the Champion Mind instills perserverance and excellence. This 3-Mind model was introduced in the 2007 best-seller The 3-Mind Revolution, co-authored by David and Brian Caswell, MindChamps’ Dean of Research and Programme-Development.
The Intellectual Property Leader in Early Learning
Unlike other Early Learning organisations, MindChamps has its own unique, researchbacked curriculum and Intellectual Property. This commitment to developing its own Intellectual Property resulted in MindChamps being accorded the WIPOIPOS IP Award in 2015 by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) for excellence in the brand’s Trademark Portfolio. As part of MindChamps V2.0, MindChamps Music, the world’s first integrated music-ineducation programme, was introduced last year as a key component of MindChamps’ core curriculum. A breakthrough synthesis of decades of research by Emeritus Professor Larry Scripp (of Harvard’s ‘Project Zero’ and the prestigious New England Conservatory, Boston, USA) together with the 3-Mind education model, this revolutionary programme has achieved patent-pending status in the U.S.A. and Singapore (U.S.A. Patent Pending: 17/644,293 and Singapore Patent Pending: 10202113952V), something unheard of in the education domain.
A Vision that has Become a Worldwide Phenomenon is Now Coming Home
What began as a research centre in Sydney, taking the number one market share in Singapore for premium preschools and expanding into Malaysia, Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia, is now back home in Australia. The award-winning MindChamps franchise has a head office in Sydney and more than 20 MindChamps Centres operating in strategic locations across the city. It now has a pioneer batch of ten passionate franchisees, along with many more already in the pipeline. For David, this is very much a homecoming story. “To bring MindChamps back home and nurture Australia’s most important asset, the minds of its children, is a real privilege and lifetime honour.”