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When romance blooms in classrooms
(Shenzhen Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-17 09:05

Three years ago, a teacher at a middle school in Beijing sat a male and female student who were in love side by side in class. She did so rather than seat them apart as many teachers in China had done for many years.

Student lovers at school [newsphoto/file]
The teacher did this as an experiment. The result, which was published recently, showed that students in love who sat together made great progress rather than regressed in their studies.

Frankly, I applaud the teacher who challenged the traditional views and allowed the students who were "in love" to sit together. As any good teacher (or scientist) does, he or she makes hypotheses and then tests them in class. If his or her data is indeed correct (i.e. that the students performed better), then they should be encouraged to sit together.

Our goal as teachers is to foster self-directed, life-long learners and we employ teaching strategies and classroom management schemes to meet that goal. Sometimes these work and sometimes they do not. What is important is that we take risks and try new practices. We are conducting continual research in the classroom. That is what good teachers do.

By creating an atmosphere of innovation and flexibility in her classroom, the teacher in Beijing taught all her students a valuable lesson beyond what any textbook or lecture could provide.

Another important point is that what works with one student does not always work for other students. We, as teachers, must change our approach to meet the unique needs and varying learning styles of each student.

I am for the Beijing teacher's practice. Key to the question is that teachers must have a correct understanding of students in love. When they have a correct understanding, they can have a correct approach. Teachers' correct attitude can help students treat this issue in a correct way. Our traditional practice forbade young students to fall in love at school.

My view is we don't have to make the students sit together but we cannot split them apart intentionally because they have a good relationship. They will come together after class anyway. And we teachers should encourage them to help and learn from each other for both of them to progress.

I see this issue in two ways. If the two students are good at studies and have achieved good scores, it's OK to have them sit together. Pressure for students is great. The two students can speak their minds to each other and help each other.

Usually, a male student is good at science while a female one is good at liberal arts subjects. They have room to help each. But if the two are not good learners and don't like to study, it's better not to put them together.

Generally I don't believe it's a good idea to make students falling for each other sit together in class. Basically, schools and teachers should discourage students from falling in love. They are young, immature. Their task at school is studying and preparing for university. Dating and courting is a diversion for them. And since they are young, odds for their love coming to fruition are small.

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