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US Teachers in Zhejiang
Post Time: 07/08/2017

On July 21, the Zhejiang—Indiana State translation course teaching project was completed after a 10-day training and exchange of teaching activities.

       Part of the program was conducted in Jinhua No.15 Middle School, where American teachers demonstrated classes to “solve cases” in a novel and impressive way. Teachers and students in Jinhua experienced original teaching techniques and the atmosphere of overseas classrooms without going abroad.


Solving a Case in Class

       An area of the school cafeteria was encircled by yellow police tape. With tables and chairs fallen to the ground and tableware in shambles, the scene showed signs of a fight, with scattered, irregular bloodstains. What happened here?

       An American teacher named Evan led the children to measure the diameter of each bloodstain with rulers, and take a magnet from mashed oats and extract iron. Later, they observed suspicious props on the teacher’s desk.

       At the beginning, teachers and students felt at loss about what they saw. Gradually, they picked up clues as the class went on.

       It turned out that the scene was set up intentionally by the American teacher, and the students were amazed at the American style of teaching. In the class, teamwork was promoted, and members of each group were required to analyze the scene by utilizing known knowledge before they made a site survey report and solved the murder.

       Actually, the scene was set particularly for students to learn about biology, chemistry, and science, for the sake of better memorizing, understanding, and applying knowledge. 

       “The process of doing experiments can help students learn to solve problems by themselves. It also provides students an opportunity to open their minds and accept a brand-new educational style,” explained Evan. During the process, students also practiced their oral English and learned many new words.


Learning from American-Style Teaching

       Although the teaching project only lasted 10 days, the participants learned a lot.

       “Each question has no definite answer, and teachers encourage students to express their own opinions,” one of the students said. “Chinese-style classes are relatively strict, and students are not allowed to whisper to each other in the class, but American teachers encourage us to discuss in class, so the atmosphere is more relaxing.”

       Fu Jun, principle of Jinhua No. 15 Middle School, summarized the features of American-style teaching: “Rather than focusing on drawing the correct conclusion, they emphasize the group discussion process more—that is, the teamwork.”

       There are many differences in the teaching methods of China and the US. It is certain that the American style teaching has its advantages. But what is worth further consideration is how to combine American advantages with Chinese educational conditions, which feature a large number of students and limited size of schools.

       Fu indicated that Chinese teachers who participated in the project gained a lot. Later, they will have discussions and create summaries based on the teaching videos of the four American teachers. They will draw on the helpful aspects and promote them to the entire school.


Education Has No National Boundary

       The project was conducted in six primary and secondary schools in Zhejiang. Two of the schools are in Jinhua: No. 15 Middle School and Wucheng Primary School.

       The project conducted in Jinhua No. 15 Middle School mainly targeted eighth grade students. As usual, every day the six classes lasted for 45 minutes each, but the various teaching forms and the interdisciplinary teaching methods impressed local teachers and students.

       The four American teachers were specifically selected by the American government. Two months ago they began preparing teaching plans, and shipped several big suitcases of teaching aids to China. Devoted to their classes, they did not even take a break at noon. All of these details show the teachers’ devotion to this project. (By Ren Wenlin, translated by Kang Meiling, edited by Kendra Fiddler)




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