A new middle school and outlook on education
Today (June 14) we visited Zibo High-Tech Experimental Middle School. Four thousand students attend this school with the majority of them living in dorms. We saw the new buildings for the school that are to be completed in August.
These buildings stand in a modernized fashion with a brick foundation, and they remind me of an entire small college campus in the U.S. I find it fascinating that four thousand middle school students attend one school and live together in harmony because the young teens can be a trying age for the students and teachers.
During a presentation concerning the school’s history and mission, the headmaster told us that the students undergo morality training which is beheld with utmost importance.
This way, the students are more likely to live in harmony with one another. So far, I’ve heard the word “harmony” in several lectures here at SDUT and in the community.
When we visited the classrooms, the students were well-disciplined and responded immediately to the teachers. In a music class, the students were learning to play a little instrument similar to the ocarina.
We also visited an English class where the students had a chance to introduce themselves to us. They were polite and adorable like all of the Chinese youths that I had talked to thus far.
Based on observing the classrooms and listening to the headmaster’s presentation, it seems that attending a Chinese middle school would be a completely different experience from attending an American one. There is a much heavier emphasis on discipline and moral training concerning pubescent, which the staff believes leads to more harmonious classrooms. Rewards also positively reinforce the students.
There were several walls with a multitude of awards given to students and teachers. Strict discipline and rewards reminded me of a previous lecture on Legalism and Confucianism, two Chinese philosophies that still has several roots in the modern-day Chinese politiburo.
According to Legalism, the people have a tendency to be evil and must be placed under strict laws and regulations to prevent evil deeds. Confucianism states that all men have the capacity to learn and the tendency to do good; also, that one can become noble by learning.
After asking several SDUT students whether or not they were satisfied with their education system, I realized that mixed opinions exist. Many students believe that the education system and parents exert too much pressure on students to get perfect (or close to perfect) marks and they want to escape the system as soon as possible by leaving China.
Others are content with the current system and intend to graduate from high school or undergraduate university with the best grades possible so they can study or attain work abroad. I always thought that the primary education system in America was not disciplined enough in areas including academic teaching and student behavior.
However, after hearing the Chinese students’ concerns about their own education system, I realize that every system has its share of problems.
— Sarah Halter, a senior English major