May 23, 2014, by educationguestblog
Shanghai 10 – Shanghai Normal University (SHNU) students’ activities at the School of Education (UNUK)
The first day involved a tour of the University, seminars, and the exciting experience of getting a bus pass for the City. Since then, there has been no stopping them. Amid trips to the town, caves, museum etc, they have visited some partner nursery schools and a secondary school federation.
The two early years specialists from Shanghai were very at home in our nurseries and shared their views about lots of similar practices. They were very interested in the different roles of the teachers and early years practitioners in the nursery team. It seems early years teachers have a somewhat lower status (and salary) than primary teachers in Shanghai. Secondary teachers earn more than primary teachers, too. Hmmmm…
Some of the SHNU students are going to be specialist teachers of either maths or Chinese in elementary schools. This is a huge difference from the UK systems, where primary class teachers are generalists, who teach most subjects. There was a government drive to introduce specialist maths teachers into English primary schools a few years ago but it had little impact. Few English primaries have a maths specialist, let alone all children taught by one. Is this, we wondered, what set’s Shanghai’s maths teaching apart? One of the SHNU students expressed surprise about a piece of maths teaching. She saw the teacher share a problem (how to make a certain sum of money out of particular coins) and the practice several examples with the class. “Why did they spend so much time on that? In Shanghai we would do it just once.” Well, we explained, the children need to practice to really develop the concept. Her reply told us a lot “Yes, but that is what homework is for, isn’t it? We teach it in class and they practice at home”. There is a difference between our two systems, then.
We had a great day at the White Hills Park School! The SHNU students visited two of the sites, met senior staff and observed a whole range of lessons. The most immediate difference in practice which struck the students was that the children changed classrooms to go to subject specific classes. In Shanghai, the teachers move to teach different classes, but the children stay in their own class, often doing a few exercises between lessons. Imagine a world without crowded school corridors?
All these exotic experiences have been punctuated with a little tourism-University of Nottingham style. They have seen the campus, caves, museum and shops.