China-Britain maths exchange program facilitates mutual learning

2015-11-29 08:56Xinhua Editor: Qian Ruisha

Maths teachers from English schools on Friday bid farewell to their colleagues from Shanghai, who have finished the four-week exchange program and will return to the east China city on Saturday.

The China-UK Math Teacher Exchange Program was launched on Nov. 2. A total of 69 maths teachers from Shanghai schools taking part in the program have taught pupils in about 40 local secondary schools alongside their English maths teacher partners in the past weeks.

Wan Lin and Lu Shan are from No. 4 Central Primary School of Shanghai's Hongkou District. During the past weeks with the program, they worked in Prince Henry's Grammar School and Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School, respectively.

Depending on different requirements from their schools, Wan taught Year 7 and 8 students geometry, while Lu taught algebra. Before they went to classroom, they need to meet English maths teachers to discuss their teaching content and made some adjustment so that pupils could learn Shanghai approaches easier and understand more.

"This is the first time we take part in the program. It was not easy for us, as we couldn't speak English as our mother language, so we had to do a lot of preparation. Thanks to the supports from our considerate English partners, our teaching goes well and we are very happy," said Wan.

Lu said although in general British pupils' basis of maths and calculation speed are not as good as Chinese pupils, their creativity impressed her a lot. In addition, pupils' enthusiasm and acceptance made Lu's teaching easy and relaxed.

"Our formula and calculating laws are really welcomed by them. We don't even worry about classroom discipline, they behaved very well," she added.

Wan's English maths teacher partner Fiona Husker told Xinhua she learnt a lot from Wan through this program. "I felt that you don't need to get through lots of lessons, you can focus on one thing. If you teach one thing and teach it very well, students will have a better understanding and a better concept, and they will remember it for longer rather than forgetting it the next day."

"I thought it was edited very badly by the BBC, although I do like BBC programs. But I think they went on an angle which didn't show current Shanghai and Chinese teaching styles. It showed very old-fashion Chinese style. I saw that Chinese teachers in that program did amazing jobs," said Husker, when asked to comment on BBC's documentary "Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School" this summer.

Before the four-week program, two groups of Shanghai maths teachers visited British primary and secondary schools. And the latest exchange program will benefit 270 maths teachers from nearly 100 Chinese and British schools and thousands of students.

"It was indeed a mutually rewarding experience for the 69 maths teachers from Shanghai to come together with British colleagues to share ideas and understanding our education, to learn from each other and to make progress together," said Ni Jian, Minister at Chinese Embassy in UK, at the farewell reception on Friday evening.

He said that the maths teacher exchange program started up from zero, turned a plan into reality and produced effective results, which fully reflects the huge potential and vast prospects of the two countries' cooperation on education.

"Due to differences in history, cultural heritage and national condition, China and UK have respective and distinctive ideas of education and approaches to teaching... This is exactly we both can learn and draw strength from each other. And maths teacher exchange program is a good platform for mutual learning," he added.

Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Schools at Britain's Department for Education also attended the reception. He expressed his thanks to both British and Chinese teachers involved in the program.

He said the exchange represents the unique and valuable opportunity to experience mastery teaching of the highest quality first hand. He has received many positive reports about the ongoing benefits from the primary schools and teachers involved in last year's Shanghai Exchange program. Many teachers have reported a sustained transformation in their approaches to professional development to long-term planning and to classroom practice.

"We have much to learn from the underpinning principles of mathematics teaching in Shanghai, the meticulous thought goes into creating high quality classroom resources ensures every step of a lesson is deliberated, purposeful and precise," he said. After watching Shanghai teachers' teaching in the past weeks, Gibb said he learnt a great deal himself.

British government prioritizes mathematics education because success in the subjects could bring young people higher earnings, provide best protection against unemployment and open doors to dozens of careers, he stressed.

"As a direct result of your involvement in the Shanghai exchange, more and more pupils would enjoy mathematics, succeed it and recognize the benefits of studying that subject further. Based on this year and last, the Shanghai Exchange is leaving a permanent and positive mark on the way maths taught in our country," he said.

Gibb told Xinhua that through the program Chinese teachers could also learn about the way English teachers encourage discussion between teachers and pupils. "A lot of active discussions take place that I think it's very important for creativity."

He said he expected more education exchange programs to be carried out between China and Britain in the future, and British schools are very good at teaching sport and can share their experience with Chinese schools.

Furthermore, since a Shanghai maths practice book has been translated and published in Britain this autumn, the education department is planning introducing Shanghai maths textbooks, so that more English schools and students could get the benefit.


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