Our trip just gets better at every step. On Tuesday we had a marathon day of visiting schools and exchanging ideas with teachers and administrators. We visited schools of all levels (elementary, middle and high). Time and again, our hosts talked about educational reform in China: changing teaching methods, updating curriculum, and encouraging collaboration and innovation, among other things. Like yesterday, we were also treated to displays of student work and performances. A full orchestra of children playing traditional instruments and conducted by a 10-year-old student was a personal highlight (see video clip below).
Halfway through the day we visited Wendeng #2 Experimental Primary School and learned quite a bit about the regional education system. This was followed by an open discussion. Anne F. asked about teacher preparation in China, and what types of courses/experiences candidates must complete before being eligible to apply for teaching positions. Huajing asked about the hiring process, and we learned that the process is much more centralized in China and that individual school leaders do not hire their own teachers. Later in the day we had a very lively discussion about teacher assessment.
Since we were very close to the ocean, we were treated to a 30 minute respite by the sea. After a full day of visiting schools and meeting countless educators and students, the ocean air and water on our toes was exactly what we needed to revive ourselves. Another banquet hosted by education officials from the region awaited us, which provided a very celebratory end to the day.
We just happened to be in China when the solar eclipse was taking place, and thankfully Huajing had decided that we should bring special viewing glasses for everyone. Though the full eclipse was only visible from the Shanghai area, and we were still in Shandong Province, this morning we were able to see an almost-full eclipse from our location and it was really amazing! Though it didn’t get dark, it got noticeably cooler and the light was a bit muted.
After the eclipse, we drove to Lanmugou, a small rural village where Huajing lived until age 8. She walked us through the streets and paths of her childhood, telling us about her life there. We were so appreciative to be Huajing’s guests in the countryside where most visitors to China would never get a chance to visit.
Photos: 1) Jeanne being interviewed by student reporters, 2) Mike at the beach, 3) the eclipse, 4) Lanmugou village
Video: the orchestra playing