By Stephanie Liu and Lizzy Xie, staff writers
// Although the Chinese education system is known for producing competitive, smart and capable students, there is always room to grow. For Chinese teachers, they don’t only want their students to learn, but they are continually trying to learn better teaching methods themselves.
To do this, a group of student-teachers from Beijing, China came to the Acalanes School District on an exchange program from the end of October to mid-November. Acalanes High School hosted eight of the exchange teachers.
These visiting teachers are incorporating a few of the lessons they learned from Acalanes back to Bejing in the hopes of shifting from their traditional “one perfect, correct answer” style of teaching to a learning environment where class discussion is encouraged.
That is one of the takeaways for Lenka Li, Kristen Zhao, and Emma Mao, three teachers-in-training who stopped by Blueprint to share their experience before returning home. They visited for about three weeks in a program designed by Capital Normal University.
One significant change the three would like to incorporate into their school system is making the classroom a more student-centered environment. This would be achieved by adding discussion-based lessons and creating more opportunities for group work. The teachers approved of classroom settings that allowed students to ask more questions and share opinions; a style of teaching that was commonly observed at Acalanes.
They explained their current system is very different than the one in place at Acalanes. Students wear uniforms, and cell phones are banned. Schools are organized differently, as students stay in the same classroom with the same group of people, and teachers rotate. The school day stretches from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a two-hour lunch break at home. Some American customs that the teachers observed, such as allowing students to sit where they choose, remove their shoes or eat and drink, are considered disrespectful in China.
Although the difference between the American and Chinese school system remains clear, this experience reveals that there is always room for improvement when it comes to learning.