53 Deng Shi Kou
People's Republic of China
Tel: (010) 6526-7755
FOR LIST OF
Fan Lu Yan
Charlotte Sanford Mason
School Visit: 5 May 1999
Beijing Jingshan School teachers and students, American teachers and students and EBB -
5 May 1999
Jingshan School, I was told, has a comprehensive computer program (when asked, the 6th graders indicated that all but one or two had computers and Internet connections at home). The computers were down on the day of my visit - they had been down for two months, supposedly a "vicious virus had disabled the entire system."
The sixth graders I spoke with had remarkable English speaking skills. They obviously are getting an education that is both broad and deep - when I listed all the countries NMR would visit, they knew every one. Most of the students participated when it came time to ask questions. The questions were engaging, serious, entertaining.
Set in the heart of Beijing, the school buildings are tall and in good condition. There is a gym with a wooden floor, a pool, and a state-of-the-art track. The school attracts athletes as well as scholars: there are basketball hoops and an entire assortment of gymnastic equipment. The school sport is volleyball.
Set in the afternoon shade of the Forbidden City, Jingshan School is one of China's proudest "experimental" schools. Students must pass very tough exams to enter and remain in the school. Jingshan boasts a progressive education philosophy: the mission of the school is to experiment with new, borrowed methods while staying the course according to traditional Chinese methods and contemporary Party lines. Teachers are required to develop their own courses (they do not teach only from the texts). They must cover the required Chinese curricula; and, they are expected to push the envelope beyond. The sixth graders I visited demonstrated that Jingshan is indeed a unique school among Chinese schools - at least among those visited by NMR. Visiting American teachers and students help to influence both style and substance; and, every year a handful of Chinese teachers and students go to the US to live in American homes and teach or study in American schools. This cooperative exchange started 20 years ago. It is the brainchild of Charlotte Sanford Mason, Co-chair of the Newton-Beijing Jingshan School Exchange Program.
Every year teachers from school districts around Boston and students from Newton, Massachusetts apply to participate in the program. I met with three young women and two of this year's teachers: Seniors Virginia Rodriguez and Diana Tien, and Junior Leah Seskin (and two others whom I did not get a chance to meet), along with Sandi Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org), a PE teacher from The Underwood School, and Christine Vaillancourt (email@example.com), an art teacher from Brown Middle School arrived in Beijing at the end of January 1999. Their tour was just about up at the time of NMR's visit. All five reported that their experiences in China have been largely very positive. All would recommend the program to others.
The Jingshan School takes
seriously Deng Xioping's words, inscribed in gold, for all to see on a
wall by the main gate: "Education for modernization, for the world and
for the future."