[P]reviously on Fred’s China Trip Day #5 – Visiting China’s Schools, Fred and company visited two schools in the Providence of Jiangxi. Today they will be bused to Jiujiang where they will visit more schools. It’s Friday, November 13th, 2015. Good morning, this is your 2015 China News briefing.
7:15a Another great morning and breakfast. I want to share with you two simple Chinese breakfast combinations I have tried and found to be excellent. The first is a hard boiled egg soaked in hot tea. The concept may not sound appealing, and the eggs tends to discolor to a grey/brownish color, but the result is quite tasty. Second, is adding the steamed white rice directly into your soup. I combined rices into my egg drop soup and found the mixture to be one of my all time favorite Chinese breakfast items.
8:30a We arrived by bus at the Middle School of Jiangxi Normal University. Even though it was sprinkling, most of the kids, staff, and principal were lining up outside to greet us. Our organization was highlighted across their marque and after a few brief opening remarks, we were each assigned each a senior student tour guide. Blair, the name of our senior, gave me a personal tour of his campus.
Blair was super, dynamic and spoke English very well. He had already visited the United States over the summer, and was super interested in applying and going to college in the States. For many Chinese students, especially those we meet during our tours, all of them are college bound in the United States. Most of these Chinese school are geared to giving China’s middle and high school kids the best possible edge to apply and get accepted into US colleges of their choice. Interesting, maybe even a bit scary.
9a “The bell,” as we would call it in our classrooms, is a non-obtrusive musical tones, which softly reminds students they have 10 minute to get to their next class. This applied to those that actually change classes (an area I’ll elaborate on near the end). Blair walked me to Kevin Hu’s Pre-Calculus class, where they would be reviewing and preparing for the SAT.
Mr. Hu was an extremely dynamic and engaging teacher. Most teachers in this school would start with a lecture over PowerPoint, then transition to the entire class working on a chalkboard based math problems, then finally ending with daily assigned homework.
9:50a We were given a brief tour of a girl’s dorm room. I found the arrangement to be very simular to a typical girl’s dorm on a college campus. This room made excellent use of space having a desk underneath each bed. Most rooms supported four students and a shared bathroom.
10:00a Blair took me back to the main group, where welcome remarks were given and then we were encouraged to walk and visit different areas of the school setup as a “Welcome Symposium”. Blair and another student gave the “student perspective” overview before we ventured to different areas groups around the room. I sat and talked with the first group before they restructured the agenda on the fly and changed it.
What happened next was like a frenzy of the group school chasing down our delegates to talk directly on how to work together. Shall we exchange students? Do you want to swoop teachers, etc. I found this method rather evasive, but the concept very good. I talked and met several possible principal leaders who could be involved or help our own language programs. We exchanged business cards which I can pass to see if our appropriate people wish to connect.
Once I had an opportunity to cycle back to Blair, I thanked him publicly and presented him and his fellow classmates with gift from our HEBISD district. Our kid gifts consisted of Texas flags and Texas key chains. As you can tell by the look on his face above, he was more than excited to review them.
11:30a We ate lunch in the cafeteria, going through the line and served on metal trays. Most all the teacher and staff eat lunch with their kids, yet another practice that is slightly different from our teachers in the States.
After lunch we said our goodbyes then headed back to the buses for our next stop.
1:30p We arrived by bus to Jiangxi Education Building, where we gathered in a formal name tag driven round table. Opening remarks and a welcome speech was given by Mr. Zhou Jintang, Deputy Director-General of Jiangxi Provincial Educational Department.
1:35p We were next addressed by Mrs. Selena Cantor of the US College Board.
1:50p A formal gift exchanges occurred between Jiangxi Provincial Education Department and US College Board. I gave a HEB plaque to the principal host as well.
2p Finally microphones were turned on and a formal panel discussion between all the Chinese principals, the Provincial Education Department and all of us began. This was a great dialog and excellent exchange of ideas and discussions of the main differences between US and Chinese schools.
I got to hear Gregory Brubaker, an American educator, who has moved in 2006 and now teaches in China full-time. He referenced Dalian Diary of 2007 and reprinted copies for each delegate added #13 himself. I have summarized both of their finding below as a closing summary of all my school visits.
Studying Chinese Education – US vs. China Differences
1. Class Size: is the first noticeable difference at the middle and high school level. Teachers typically teach two classes (in an 8 period day) that have 55-65 students. The Chinese teachers use their non-teaching time to grade papers and to prepare for their classes.
2. Cohort Concept: Throughout China, students beginning in a school are put into classes and they stay in those classes with one another for the entire time they are in school unless higher test scores permit them to move to a more advanced group. Understand in the Chinese system this group of students will learn each of their subjects together.
3. Classrooms Belong to the Kids: Chinese student stay in the same classroom for their main classes and their teachers rotate from class to class. Thus Chinese students don’t have hallway lockers. Students sit in the same seats for each subject and keep their materials in a shelf under their desk tops. Many students have cloth covers for their desk and other means of making it “homey.”
4. Chinese Education is Looping: The teachers of the students in the entering classes will also follow their same students to the next grade level and the next.
5. The Head Teacher is a Banzhuren: The banzhuren takes additional responsibilities in delivering instruction, supervising their specific class of students and knowing their students and families well enough to be the facilitator and communicator with the kids’ families. The banzhuren will not only teach her specific class, she will also sit in on many other subjects throughout the day so she can monitor the progress of her students with other teachers. The banzhuren will act as a mother for those students who don’t have parental support. Furthermore, the banzhurens are expected to visit the homes of families of the students she supports. The banzhuren after three years receives bonuses based on the academic improvement of her students.
6. Chinese Believe in Merit Pay: Student test scores play a huge part of teacher evaluation.
7. Discipline is Rarely a Problem: Discipline is so rare in Chinese school that little or no teachers are required to monitor halls, lunch or study periods. There is 10 minutes between classes from which teachers stay in their room to meet with students who need to talk or discuss issues with them.
8. Chinese Students are Respectful: When Chinese students recite, they stand; when students hand in a paper, they use both hands, when referring to a teacher in writing, they say, “Our dear teacher.”
9. Student Have Chores: Students play an active role in sweeping the classrooms, scrubbing the steps, serving meals, being class monitors, and helping teachers. Students may be found watering plants, emptying bins, cleaning windows, distributing lunches, etc.
10. Students Buy Softback Textbooks: Students buy softback textbooks and are expected to write and take notes in them.
11. Curriculum in China is Standardized: The entire nation works off the same curriculum and the same standardized tests.
12. It’s All About the Tests: Parents and students hold tests in high regards. Tests determine everything and great emphasis is surrounds tests. Each Friday tests are given for the week. At the end of each semester tests are given. Finally at the end of the year, June 7th and 8th, a significate end of year test is given. The test is of such great significance that parents rent hotel rooms nearby so their student can have a quiet lunch and take a nap.
13. Homework is Not Graded: Chinese students have more homework than Americans. Like we discussed in yesterday’s post, it is always due tomorrow. However, homework is reviewed and monitored by the teacher, but it is not counted towards the grade. Remember only tests matter.
4p After our panel discussion we said our goodbyes and loaded the bus to Jingdezhen. This four hour bus ride brought us to another great restaurant, followed by yet another good hotel visit. These visits are informative, exciting and exhausting all at the same time.
Images from Fred’s China Trip 11/13/2015