Ms. Cheng Xueqin is Director of the Anji Childhood Education Research Center, and former Director (1999-2018) of the Office of Pre-Primary Education, Anji County Department of Education, Zhejiang Province.
From 1999 to present, Cheng has been a leading global innovator in early childhood practice and policy. She is the creator and designer of the Anji Play Philosophy, Approach, Curriculum, and materials. She is responsible for identifying and articulating the concept of “True Play.”
In 2014, Jesse Robert Coffino joined Ms. Cheng Xueqin to share her work and the work of the educators of Anji County with educators, policy-makers, organizations, parents, and communities outside of China. In 2015, Jesse asked Cas Holman to help lead their work, and soon after Krystina Tapia joined the team.
Since 2014, a growing network of educators, parents, and communities have taken up the call to return the right of True Play to all children, to shift our stance towards the ability of children, and to reflect on our roles in creating the conditions for those abilities to be seen and respected.
In the last five years, we have developed close relationships with an incredible group of individuals, organizations, and communities to pilot, adopt, and develop the philosophy and practice of Anji Play.
In addition to this core group of practitioners, a robust and growing advisory board provides our various organizations with their clear voices as we reflect on our past, current, and future work.
Cheng Xueqin - 程学琴
Cheng Xueqin is the creator of the Anji Play approach, former Director, Office of Pre-Primary Education, Anji County Department of Education, Zhejiang Province; Member, Play and Materials Professional Committee, China National Society of Early Childhood Education.
Her research includes public policy and management in pre-primary education, early childhood curricula, and play. In 2004, Ms. Cheng was recognized by Zhejiang Province with its highest honor for her 2004 research initiative “Rural Early Childhood Education Management and Development Strategies.” In 2014, she received the “Highest Honor for National Achievement in Pre-K-12 Education” from the Ministry of Education of China for “The Practice and Exploration of the 'Anji Play' Approach.”
She has presented her work to colleagues and audiences at Columbia University, MIT, Mills College, Stanford University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and other learning and play communities throughout the world.
Jesse Coffino - 高杰
In addition to his work as Chief Interpreter and Translator for Anji Play founder Ms. Cheng Xueqin, he has also authored numerous articles and essays on the history and practice of the Anji Play Approach, including “The Anji Play Ecology of Early Learning” (Childhood Education, Vol. 95, No. 1).
Jesse has lectured on the historical significance of the work of Ms. Cheng and the educators of Anji County, China at organizations and institutions including Google, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and BRAC.
Jesse works closely with Ms. Cheng to translate the ideas and concepts of Anji Play for a global audience. Together they have identified pilot programs and cultivated practice leaders in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
Hope, Rhode Island
Through her company Heroes Will Rise, Cas designs and manufactures tools for the imagination. These materials are manipulable parts and pieces which inspire constructive play, imaginative forms, and cooperative interactions between people.
In 2015, Cas worked with Ms. Cheng and the educators of Anji County to standardize the design of Anji Play materials for mass production. Since that time, she has developed a close working relationship with Ms. Cheng, and shares her insights from Anji with her students and audiences around the world.
Cas is full time faculty at RISD, in the Industrial Design Department. She relocated from Brooklyn to Hope, RI where she prototypes her playthings on five acres known as Camp Fun.
Krystina works closely with teachers, children, families, and administrators at programs in the United States and internationally to develop the practice of Anji Play.
Krystina spent over a decade as an early childhood teacher in the United States. In 2017, she spent the first month and half of the school year in a classroom for 3 year olds at Jiguan Kindergarten in Anji, China. During her residency, she was able to observe and document the introduction of the Anji Play approach, philosophy, materials, and school culture to the youngest children. She learned closely from experienced Anji teachers, and grew alongside new teachers who had just begun their careers in the public early childhood programs of Anji County.
Krystina earned a BA in Psychology from UCLA and an MA in Early Childhood Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She also received a certificate in Digital Technologies and the Early Childhood Environment from Bank Street College of Education.
Marianne Bloch, PhD, Curriculum & Instruction Department, Emerita, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Gina Farrar, PhD, Head of School, The Blue School
I-Fang Lee, PhD, School of Education, University of Newcastle, New South Wales
Peter Mangione, PhD, Co-Director, Center for Child and Family Studies, WestEd
Chris Moffett, PhD, University of North Texas
Julie Nicholson, PhD, Professor of Practice, Director, Center for Play Research, Mills College
Michele Reich, EdD, Children's Librarian, Santa Fe Public Library
Frances Rust, PhD, Scholar-in-Residence, NYU Metro Center
The Anji Childhood Education Research Center is a not-for-profit research organization founded in 2016 and based in Anji County, China (USSC: 52330523MJ947691XE). The Research Center develops the philosophy and practice of Anji Play, and develops and coordinates research, publications, events, and opportunities for learning and exchange.
In 2019, Jesse, Krystina and Cas founded Anji Education, Inc. in California to provide resources for learning about and practicing Anji Play, services including Study Tours, professional learning and growth opportunities and events, online learning resources, virtual and in-person communities of practice, publishing, speaking engagements, and rights management.
Anji Education, Inc. is not a profit-maximizing organization. It seeks, first, to sustain a shift in the future that comes from reorienting our stance towards learning and children, and to protect the integrity of the work of all committed Anji Play practitioners. At this time, the C-corp structure provides us with the flexibility and responsiveness to do our work and create, sustain, and protect the change we are striving to see realized.
The True Play Foundation, based in Leiden, the Netherlands and founded in 2019, develops and provides support to programs throughout the world that make the experience of True Play central to their view of learning, and which actively reflect on their work through the framework of the Rights and Responsibilities of True Play. The True Play Foundation also works to coordinate and support research into the practice of True Play.
The Anji Education Research Center, is a Berkeley, California-based organization that supports the work of Ms. Cheng and the Anji Childhood Education Research Center in Anji County.
…a note on the logo
In 2015, Jesse designed a distinctive white bamboo ladder forming the letter “A” on a round green background to symbolize Anji Play and True Play. Ladders play an important role as a play material in Anji Play programs, and symbolize growth and change from the bottom up. Anji County is the world capital of bamboo production, and some of the earliest Anji Play materials were made from locally-sourced bamboo. Green represents growth, life, the white tea of Anji, and the ecological stewardship that is part of Anji County’s commitment to its people. “A” stands for Anji Play, and is the first letter in the English alphabet.