Shanghai schools form the next generation

Ⓒ AFP – Chandan Khanna – | Students sing the national anthem in the courtyard of their school in Shanghai, in the daily hoisting of the flag

With the arms in the air, the students sing the national anthem before resuming the classes in the schools of the Chinese city of Shanghai, very well placed in the international educational tests based on discipline, affectionate teachers and patriotism.

At the elementary school on Wuning Street, while children between 8 and 12 years old sing, the red flag with five yellow stars flutters in the sky.

They study everything, or almost: mathematics, tea preparation, going through football, morals and even hip hop.

The interest of the West for the local education system has intensified since the students of this city achieve excellent results in international classifications. English teachers came to study the secret and the World Bank published in 2016 a complimentary report under the title “How does Shanghai do?”

Students at Wuning School, one of the best in the city, wear the typical uniform in China: white sneakers, blue sports pants, white T-shirt and red scarf.

Under the watchful eye of the teacher they do math exercises in silence.

“If they talk, I stare at them,” says Professor Zhang Jing. With that, it is enough for them to shut up.

– No punishments –

Ⓒ AFP – Chandan Khanna – | For a long time, education in China was based on respect for the teacher. But some schools in Shanghai follow another method

For a long time, education in China was based on respect for the teacher. But this Shanghai school, like other local schools, follows another method.

Teachers want students to “love” them and not be afraid of them. They are encouraged to express themselves and be creative.

“I take care of young children, what they need most is tenderness,” explains Shen Yi, a professor of mathematics for 26 years.

After giving a statistical exercise to the students, it encourages them, sometimes giving them patties on the head with affection. “Your chart is very well done,” flatters one of them.

In class the students sit with their backs straight and only speak when asked a question.

“It’s almost never punished, we just encourage them,” Shen explains. “In this way the students have the feeling of maintaining a privileged relationship with their teachers, as with their mother or a friend, and because they feel loved by their teachers, they want to go to class.”

– Gymnastics –

As soon as the bell rings, the children get up at the same time and intone a respectful “Goodbye teacher!”

For the 1,300 students it is recess time, where they attend the hoisting of the flag and sing the national anthem. A routine in all elementary schools in the country.

Ⓒ AFP – Chandan Khanna – | A martial music marks the beginning of daily gymnastics. “Stay in a row, left, right, left, right,” says a woman with a microphone in her hand, while the children swing their arms in an almost perfect synchronized dance.

A martial music marks the beginning of daily gymnastics. “Stay in a row, left, right, left, right,” says a woman with a microphone in her hand, while the children swing their arms in an almost perfect synchronized dance.

According to the World Bank report, school success in Shanghai is due to the quality of teaching.

“One of the most impressive aspects of the Shanghai education system is the way it trains, supports and directs teachers, who are at the heart of efforts to improve the quality of education in schools,” he says.

Other positive points: establishments must account for the results of the students and the most competitive centers, help others.

In addition to school success, Professor Shen and his colleagues pursue another goal: to make them “integral” members of Chinese society.

As in the other Chinese schools, Wuning teaches “ethics” and “morals”. Teachers skip over the content devoted to the ideology of the Communist Party or the thinking of Chinese President Xi Jinping, added to the national school program.

The red scarves remember that the students are “young pioneers”, a communist organization for children between 6 and 14 years old, of which practically all Chinese people of that age are part.

Some model students, among whom the school chose two to answer the questions of the AFP sent in advance.

“July” exposes in English the answers prepared meticulously. He claims to do two hours of homework after school and another three after dinner. Watching TV is forbidden … but he recognizes that from time to time he is allowed to watch cartoons.

What’s the worst about Wuning school? “There’s nothing wrong with my school, everything is good,” the girl replies.

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