Saturday, April 26, 2014

C4T My Choice Weeks 13-15

From the blog of Mr. Derrick Willard: Tearing Down Walls
half of a brick wall with the saying:tearing down walls extending the science classroom

Week 13
I have been constantly searching through the archives of post by Mr. Willard. I came across a post from Dec 17, 2012. The post was titled Well Said and it included a quote which Mr. Willard says describes as what he is trying to do in his classroom and through his blog. “The world is where we learn; school is where we meet. Those who try to capture learning within school walls are doomed to the past”- Grant Lichtman. Thus the name of his blog, Tearing Down Walls. I think this quote should serve as a reminder to teachers of what our classrooms should be like and that we owe it to our students to make sure that they are globally connected.

Week 14
students in uniform in a classroom in China
On April 18, 2014 Derrick Willard made his first post about his observations in schools in China. In this post he addressed public boarding schools. Many families in China choose to have their children attend boarding schools during the school week because commuting in their big cities of 10 million plus people is very difficult. The students wore uniforms and the classrooms looked very similar to those found in the U.S. The students he observed were engaged in a “well rehearsed” English lesson. The teacher asked questions and the students enthusiasticly answer in unison. The lessons were taught from a workbook that had a cassette tape to go with it. The students followed the lessons in order and did worksheets that went along with them. After class all the students went outside for group exercise. The principle of the school said that they must teach to the test, the National Higher Education Entrance Examination. He was enthusiastic about daily exercise and the fact that the students had electives on Friday. Mr. Willard was impressed by the impressive academic complex that housed approximately 2000 students and 500 educators.
My comment for Mr. Willard: ”I have to say that I was disappointed but not shocked by your observations. I had hoped to see great innovations coming from the schools in China. I was not surprised to hear you tell of what sounds like strict, traditional rigor. From what I understand about the Chinese, their society prides itself on discipline, tradition, and honor. I look forward to hearing about the other three types of schools. Thanks for sharing.”

Week 15
Mr. Willard with private school students in the classroom

On April 26, 2014 Mr. Willard continued his review of schools in China. The school he visited was a large private boarding school with approximately 4000 students attending. He said that although the school was much larger than the public boarding school he reviewed last week, the classes had about half the number of students than that of the public school. He observed that instead of being slaved to Gaokao prep (college entrance exams), this private “school seeks to master traditional education and institute reforms-moving from more passive learning to more active learning, respecting personalities of students in order to motivate them better, encouraging more creativity, and social responsibility.” He commented that this school seemed very similar to his private school here in the U.S. He is not saying private schools in China are better than the public schools. He was actually told that the public schools tend to be the better ones.

I had a lot of questions to ask Mr. Willard about this post. First of all I wanted to know if the judgment that public schools were better than private schools was based on someone’s opinion, test scores or something entirely different? I was also curious as to why Chinese parents would pay to send their children to private schools if the public schools were better. Are the ideals of the Chinese people changing? I am also curious to know, is college performance by students coming from private and public school backgrounds being tracked? Is one type of student more likely to attend college and also can it be determined which student is the higher achiever based on college performance? Mr. Willard has been so gracious with his correspondence and replies to my questions. I am looking forward to hearing his reply.

No comments:

Post a Comment