By: Dr. Marvin Olige, Assistant Principal, Maplewood High School, Nashville, Tennessee
Today was very informative, amazing, and interesting. The day started with a lecture from Professor Linghiao Gao in which he spoke on rethinking the school curriculum reform. Dr. Gao stated the school curriculum of 2001 is similar to the No Child Left Behind Act in the United States. It was presented that China is facing great challenges in the new century, and changing the traditional way of teaching future citizens has become one of the urgent tasks of the Chinese educator. Some current problems they face are elitism, where the best schools usually have the most money. The education system is based on doing well on high stakes tests and the basic teaching style in China is lecture, as he explained it as the teacher only “pours in” the students.
Marvin, taking notes at the lecture
Positive effects of the Chinese reform act are a deeper understanding of the original school system which includes the curriculum, teaching, learning, and assessment; teachers are able to use different kinds of educational ideas, theories, and strategies. The reform process will take time but the current offerings of new courses will play an important role in the future of the reform act. The new courses allow the students to focus more on problem solving, analyzing, communicating, and cooperating on activities. The decisions in the Chinese education system are primarily provided from the government; school principals have about a 10% influence on the curriculum in the schools.
Professor Gao talking about education reforms in China
Later we toured a high school, The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University, where all the students are recruited to attend the high school. All of the students are in the top 10% academically in their province and the students are selected based on their performance on a high stakes exam. Students who come from a province far away must live on campus. The student who gave me a tour of the campus lives 5 hours away by train. Many of the students live on campus and have access to an online international center. The school is very innovative in the way they attempt to educate its students.
Marvin, greeted by Principal Wu at the gate of the Affiliated High School of SCNU
Principal Wu, two new teachers, and four students spoke to us about new teachers and the responsibility of the school to train good teachers. Principal Wu’s approach to training new teachers has two layers: the individual aims of the teachers and overall aims of the school. The teachers spoke about the impact of the new teacher program and how it allowed them to grow into a better teacher. One teacher stated that when he first started teaching, his teaching style was based on his experiences. However, as he went through the program, he learned how to teach in a way to engage students and one of the important things he learned was how to communicate with children. The lecture concluded with students giving real life experiences from the school on how newer teachers impacted their learning. The students were very open about the negative and positive encounters they had experienced in the classroom with newer teachers and one gave an example of being taught in new teacher’s class versus an experienced teacher’s class and how she felt that they both are needed to make the students grow in knowledge.