What "More and Less" Are Encouraged?

What "more and less" would top your list?

This question has been on my mind since attending a seminar by Liu Baocun from Beijing Normal University during my two week experience at Shijiazhaung Foreign Language School in China.

He spoke about current experiences of students and teachers in the Chinese educational system. Many of these were evident while teaching grade 7 and 8 students during the two week summer camp. First and foremost, I will note the great care that the teachers I worked with had for their students - wanting the very best for them and working very hard to incorporate new practices into their lessons. All of this with obstacles such as very large class sizes (40 - 60 students per class) and testing. This is something that I have come to find transcends borders - the close relationship between students and teachers. Our conversations, although challenging at times with language barriers, were tempered with a common love and understanding of our profession. It was also evident that the teaching of basic knowledge and skills is central. Students work diligently on workbooks filled with complex mathematical concepts, reading passages, and science explanations. There is no complaining, no procrastinating - their job is to be a good student. The focus on moral education and high expectations for achievement are definitely strengths of the Chinese educational system. The work ethic, resilience, and respect for education are aspects were could learn from within our society.

Liu Baocun also addressed areas of need in the Chinese educational system. I think we have learned many of these same lessons in North America. This includes the importance of inquiry, student-driven learning, and differentiated instruction. Perhaps we need to consider the final bullet point in greater depth - stress and workload for students and teachers and the affect this has on student achievement.

At the conclusion of his seminar, Mr. Baocun highlighted some "more and less" needs in the Chinese educational system. It struck me that I was on the other side of the world, however many of the same educational shifts on the forefront.

How many of these would be on your list? What others would you add?


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