Phase 3: Interpreting Information
Information From Local Contacts:
Shawn (Mrs. Ma, the Antique Store Owner's Son):
Shawn told me that he went to the school right next to Sifang Jie. He is in 6th grade, and attends Xizhou Zhong Er (Xizhou Middle School). He also shared that he didn't like going to school, because there was a lot of bird poop on the way there. I personally was looking for an answer actually related to the school, but it's okay. He also told me that all they learnt was Chinese and Maths, which was very surprising to me. He stated that school starts at 7:50, ends at 11:00 for two hours, and then starts again at 1:00, and goes till 5:00.
Xiaotang (Manager at Yang Zhuo Ran):
Xiaotang, gave me a very different answer than Shawn's. She said that students learn ALL subjects, such as geography, history, biology, maths, chinese, sports, literature and music. She also pointed me towards one of the housekeepers at the Yang Zhuo Ran, whose father-in-law actually used to be a principal at one of the schools in Xizhou. He retired a couple of years ago.
Daughter of the owner of the supermarket at Sifang Ji:
I just asked her some simple questions about whether she went to school, what grade she was in and whether she liked it. Her answers were pretty simple as well. "I go to school. I'm in second grade. I like going to school." However, when I asked her mother, she said her daughter didn't like going to school. At this point, her daughter blushed and started giggling, so I took it that she did, indeed not like going to school.
He Laoshi (Director of Administration at Xizhou Er Zhong):
He Laoshi was very helpful and told me lots of information relating to my topic. He told me that the school has been open since 1910, so almost the same as SAS! The name of the school is Xizhou Er Zhong, or Xizhou Middle School. The student population is 1200 for 3 grades. 7th grade, 8th grade and 9th grade. There are more girls than boys at the school, because the boys often drop out of school. Almost all of the students go help their parents after school is over. Almost half of the the student population goes on to high school or a specialist school where they learn about a specific skill. Computers were introduced to the school in 1995. All students attending the school know how to use Word, and they are only allowed to use computers during computer class. 8th graders, however, have the chance to use the computer at all times if they pass a certain test. I also went to school and observed myself. I attended a 8th grade Chinese class, where the main technology used was blackboards and chalk. However, there were speakers and projectors in the classroom, and all teachers have a laptop. He Laoshi also informed me that a lot of the students have laptops at home. The school is a government school, so all the technology and supplies have been paid for and provided by the government.
8th Grade Chinese Literature Class (Xizhou Er Zhong):
Attending this class was very helpful, because I learnt a lot, not only about the types of technology used in the school, but also the different teaching systems. They learnt mostly by recitation. The teacher would say something, and they would repeat. Or, the teacher would ask a question and the 42 students in the class would answer in unison. There was some interactive learning, with the teacher asking students to go up to to the blackboard and write the answers to their homework on the board. However, that was pretty much it. The main tools used in the class were blackboards and chalk, but there were still a projector and speakers in the classroom. I also found out that all teachers had personal computers that they didn't use that often, but they still had them. On the desks of each student were piles and piles of books, textbooks, magazine articles and newspapers, which made me infer that instead of them moving around like we do at SAS, the teachers come around to the classroom, except for music and sports. Basically, the supplies were simple and standard, just like the teaching method.
Information From 3 to 5's:
Source 1: Mrs. Yang (Teacher at a Local Elementary School)
Mrs. Yang answered almost all of my questions that were leading to my project. She told me that there were 4 sections in each grade. There were atleast 37 students in each section, 47 at maximum. The school day starts at 7:50 AM, and goes to 11:00 AM. At this time, they take a 2 hour break and go home for lunch and to rest. School starts again at 1:00 PM, and goes till 4:00 PM. Mrs. Yang told us that the children were usually very tired by the time they went home. They learnt a variety of subjects, including Chinese, Math, Literature, Music and PE. They didn't have any computers in the school itself, but in another school near Sifang Jie, the ratio of computers to students is very high, 2:1. The most interesting fact she told me was probably that there are 13 schools in the District of Xizhou! I was expecting 1, or 2 at most!
Source 2: Xiaotang (Manager of Yang Zhuo Ren)
Xiaotang was my first 3 - 5, so she expanded my knowledge a lot by just giving me the basics of education in Xizhou, and basically how education works in China. She told me that there were 3 schools in Xizhou itself, one elementary, one middle and one high school. She told me that they learn almost all subjects, including Geography, History, possible even Biology. She also guided me to three local people that I could talk to for information.
Source 3: Mr. Yang (Security Guard at the Linden Centre)
Mr. Yang was my final 3 - 5, and he was helpful, because he told me where the 3 schools that are located in the town of Xizhou are. He also confirmed Xiaotang's interview by telling me that there are, indeed, 3 schools in the town of Xizhou, one elementary, one middle and one high. He also shared that his 2 children had graduated, which shows that pupils do indeed go farther ahead than the 9 years of education that are necessary according to Chinese Law.
Background Information (From Phase 1):
My sources are:
- China's education system is the largest education system in the world.
- According to Chinese law, it is compulsory for all citizens to get at least 9 years of education.
- Unlike in some other countries, teaching is a very highly respected profession in China.
- Most of China's population lives in rural areas, so 95.2% of high schools, 87.6% of middle schools and 71.5% of elementary schools in China are in the countryside
- In 2006, the Chinese government was supposed to equip 40,000 junior-high schools in rural areas with computers that had internet accessibility and multi-media classrooms.
- In 2012, Yunnan Province invested 67 billion RMB to improve their education system.
Answers to Previous Questions (From Phase 1):
- What type of tools or technology do the kids in Xizhou use?
I don't have this question answered 100% right now. However, Mrs. Yang, one of the teachers at the local elementary school told me that the schools right next to Sifang Jie had a 1:2 computer to student ratio, which I thought was pretty impressive. At the other school however, they still use pencils and pens, and they don't have projectors, or white boards or SMART boards. At Xizhou Zhong Er (Xizhou Middle School), all teachers have computers, and each classroom is equiped with a projector and speakers. They have a computer lab, and all students attend computer class and know how to use Microsoft Word.
- How does the technology affect their learningv?
I don't have the answer to this question at all right now, since I haven't been able to observe any schools from the inside to see how their technology affects their learning.
- Are the 8th graders there ahead of us?
I think I need to change this question, because it's really hard to actually compare, because 8th graders here learn what they need to learn to have a successful life in Xizhou, while we learn what we need to have a successful life in global cities around the world.
- How long is each school day?
The school day lasts 9 hours, with a 2 hour break in the middle. So, basically 7 hours, like SAS.
- How many students are in one class?
The minimum number of students in each class is 37, while the maximum is 47. There are 4 sections/classes in each grade, so those are the numbers.
- Do the students have to go and work after school?
He Laoshi, the Director of Administration at Xizhou Zhong Er (Xizhou Middle School) informed me that almost all students go afterschool to go and help their parents after school is over, or manage their shops.
- Is lunch provided in school?
Lunch is not provided in school. Students have a two hour break between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM, to go home, eat lunch and rest.
- Do the students like coming to school?
This depends on individual needs, I think. Most of the individual students I've talked to, say that that they don't like going to school. However, Mrs. Yang the teacher, told Aidan and I that students do like coming to school.
- How qualified are the teachers?
All teachers go through school atleast, with almost all of them going to university or graduate school for teaching degrees.
- Do all children of Xizhou go to the same school?
No, all children of Xizhou do not go to the same school. In the town of Xizhou itself, there are 3 seperate schools for elementary, middle and high schools. In the district of Xizhou, there are 13 schools.