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In the classes, kids are partners
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-25 01:07

Don't be surprised if you find students at some local schools chipping in with their own thoughts as their teachers are speaking in class, take a restroom break whenever they like, or even pausing to take a short nap in class.

Thanks to a new, kind of small-class educational methodology that has been adopted by an increasing number of local primary and middle schools, students are being allowed a freer rein and more enjoyable, relaxing environment for their studies under the concept. Some educators here believe it is beneficial for the pupils,providing solid education and healthy growth in the long run.

Conventionally unacceptable behaviours -- such as talking or having a nap while teachers are lecturing-- as a result, are now a more rare scene at local schools, officials say.

Students at the Xingfu Siping Experimental Primary School, located at the city's Hongkou District, are merely one beneficiary of the relaxed methodology.

"It's really fun because we all take the classroom as a world of our own," said Lang Wenyan, a 12-year-old kid in the school's fifth grade, when talking about her feelings of the small-class teaching approach.

What makes her most excited is that she feels happy while acquiring knowledge, and she can be on good terms as a friend with her teachers, Lang said.

In small-class teaching, a class is made up of about 25 students, compared with traditional ones that might hold up to 40 students.

Unlike conventional teaching approaches that require students to discipline themselves and be obedient when in class, the new methodology stresses much more active interaction between students and teachers.

Students are encouraged to raise questions directly in class whenever one comes to mind, and they are entitled to speak out about their doubts and mistakes they think teachers might be making.

Meanwhile, students have the right to choose themselves where to sit, and those who flunk a test can get another chance to re-take the exam.

"The biggest change of small-class teaching is that each student is treated as completely independent, an individual entity," said Qu Xiaoyi, the school's morals instructor.

Students' rights, personalities and hobbies are better respected and protected than in the past since teachers are able to take care of each pupil in the class, given limited enrollment, she added.

"We've found our students show quite remarkable co-operative and communicative capabilities (with the small-class teaching)," said Long Jinhua, a teacher at the school.

"Such benefits,we believe, will be shown in the long run, rather than in a short term," said Long, referring to some doubts' that the new methodology might lead to a drop of students' exam marks, which are nevertheless still a prevailing assessment standard in China on school students' performance.

Maintaining that students at her school generally do well in their studies, Long admitted some parents in society still have strong faith in schools, where educational quality, or more specifically, students' performance in exams is highlighted above all else.

"The biggest achievement of my boy, as I observe, is that he now shows a strong will to learn, and he takes care of his studies all out of his own initiative," said Dai Mingming, a local woman whose son has studied at the school for three years.

Statistics indicate that more than 200 out of the city's over-800 primary schools have adopted the method of small-class teaching, and local authorities are conducting a test of the methodology at more than 10 local middle schools.

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