A brief report on the Principals Delegation to China, September 2014
By Wayne Bainbridge
1. Reflections on China:
− Enormous Potential for New Zealand.
− That every child is a wanted child.
− Order and discipline.
− Protection of heritage.
− The apparent optimism of young people – western lifestyles, consumer drives etc.
− Internet dodgy on busy mornings.
− A country of extremes.
− Shanghai: City of Love.
− Families mean a lot.
− Highlights would be Tongli Water Village and the Great Wall of China, and on a personal interest note, the Shanghai Art Museum.
2. Reflections on Chinese Education:
− It is free!
− It is valued and supported.
− Parents respect school and teachers.
− The best schools are amazing and are at least a model for what is possible.
− Every parent attends parent interviews – it is the norm.
− Many schools honour their past with school museums.
− Schools are refurbished every 7 years.
− The principal is the absolute authority in the school.
− There is order and discipline.
− Class sizes are large – up to 40 but we heard of examples up to 70.
− In high schools, doing extra voluntary hours is normal.
− There is no MLE in China.
− Teaching is very formal. Children stand to say good morning and good bye. The teacher asks the child to stand to answer a question. Very rigid classrooms.
− The predominant pedagogy is that of oracy based on teacher input, a question, the child rephrasing the question, then answering it and then the teacher questioning for deeper understanding. Text books underpin the lesson used as a summary at the end.
− The best teachers demonstrated personality, passion, engagement and energy.
3. School Action Steps:
− Refine and strengthen Mandarin teaching within the school.
− Add after school class option.
− Begin Chinese cultural group – purchase uniforms and dragon lion costume.
− Search for a sister school.
− Develop Mandarin word charts for classrooms.
Sincere thanks to Matipo Primary School Board of Trustees for supporting my visit and contributing to the airfare.
Absolute thanks to Confucius Institute, Haban and Fudan Universities for organising and funding the internal China programme.
Personal thanks to Janine Chin for the care and organization of the delegation and really going beyond reasonable expectation to ensure the success of the delegation.