June 21-July 7, 2006
The American Teachers Delegation
The U.S. – China Policy Foundation just completed a pilot program that sent nine teachers to China to study the education system as well as Chinese history and culture. This first of its kind program, the American Teachers Delegation, began in summer 2005 by bringing together a group of high school teachers from several independent schools in the Washington, D.C. area for a two-week intensive workshop followed by a two-week trip to China this summer to experience what they had learned first-hand.
The two-week workshop last summer focused on two important tasks. First, it provided teachers who teach courses on history, art, geography and others relating to China an opportunity to explore more in depth China’s rich historical and cultural traditions. Second, the workshop sought to stimulate discussions and to help the participants formulate strategies and materials for teaching about China in their own classrooms here in the U.S. The workshop accomplished these goals through lectures, films, discussions and field trips focused on China.
In late June 2006 eight of the nine teachers reconvened in Washington, D.C. for their trip to China. The teachers spent two weeks traveling to Beijing, Xian and Shanghai where they met with officials from the Chinese Ministry of Education, toured local schools, met with local teachers and well-known university professors and scholars and visited several important cultural sites.
While in Beijing, Mr. Wang Dinghua, Section Chief of the Department of Basic Education, and Mr. Tang Jingwei, Section Chief of the Training Division of the Department of Normal Schools, both from the Chinese Ministry of Education, gave the delegation a brief introduction to the Chinese basic education system. Along with visits to the No. 80 Middle School (A key school), Beijing Normal University, Qianmen Foreign Language School, and the Chongwen District Institute of Education the teachers gained valuable insight into understanding the education system in China both on the local and national levels.
While in Beijing, the delegation also visited the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, or Hanban, a nongovernmental organization which is funded by the Chinese government. The teachers were treated to a special demonstration of Hanban’s new computer software for teaching the Chinese lanuage to non-native speakers.
During their time in Xian, the delegation visited Xian Jiaotong University’s middle school, where they were treated to several short performances by the local students. Following the performances, the teachers had an opportunity to meet with groups of students to discuss the students’ educational experiences.
With just four days left in China, the delegation traveled to its last destination, Shanghai. There, the delegation met with Professor Shen Dingli, Director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, and opened a dialogue with Professor Shen on issues dealing with U.S. – China relations.
Along with educational meetings and visits to local schools, the teachers also were given opportunities to tour well-known cultural sites to see for themselves what they teach their students about China. In Beijing, the delegation visited important sites such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. While in Xian they saw the Terracotta warriors and the Xian City Wall. In Shanghai they explored the Bund, Yu Garden, the Oriental Pearl Tower and took a cruise down the Huangpu river. In all three cities the teachers spent time at various museums to expand their knowledge of Chinese history, art and culture.
Having visited China to see it first-hand, the teachers felt better equipped to return to their classrooms in the U.S. to teach about China and to share all of their wonderful experiences.