June 10, 2014, by educationguestblog

Shanghai schools- the little things you notice

Three new things from Shanghai schools-and they aren’t what you think!

  1. Eye exercises.

Twice a day, in Shanghai schools, all the children do eye exercises. Suddenly, music comes out of a loudspeaker in the wall, a voice starts to count to the music and all the children hunch over and start massaging their eyes, cheeks and necks in unison. They know the routine and follow the voice from the wall silently. The teacher paces the rows checking they are doing it right. It is a little disconcerting the first few times you witness it! When we asked, the teachers explained that it is to relieve tension and improve blood circulation and eyesight. “Does it work? “ we asked. “Well, we have always done it so we can’t stop now, in case it does!” said the teacher.

eye excercises eye excercises2








But we notice that there are more spectacle wearers in China than anywhere else we have ever been.

  1. Left handers- there aren’t any.

In the schools we have been to, the teachers and children either eat together in the classroom or in a canteen. This is not turkey twizzler sort of country and the children and teachers get a real meal prepared in the kitchen. So far we have been into schools with 1500, 1033, 678 and 2000 children and seen a lot of children expertly eating their school dinners with chopsticks. We have also seen the children writing and, so far, we have seen only one left-hander- me! The children think it is funny and it draws stares in the canteen. “Are there any left handed children?” we asked. “No, not really. Their mothers train them out of it before school” we were told.

school dinners (1) school dinners (2) school dinners (3)








And when you have been the only left-hander on a circular table of people using chopsticks, you know why.

  1. Teacher’s offices- and time to use them

“But where are the teachers’ offices?” asked our Shanghai student visitors. “Where do teachers do their planning, do marking and teach children who need extra help?” Well, we explained, English primary teachers don’t need offices -they are in the class almost all the time. Not so our Shanghai colleagues, who teach two or three 35 minute lessons a day, though they can take on more and get paid more.

It really is a different world.

Posted in Uncategorized