Teachers from Middle Tennessee headed to China with MTSU

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Some Tennessee school administrators will devote a small part of their summer to learning more about education in China.

The Confucius Institute at MTSU is leading a delegation of educators on a 10-day excursion to China for a whirlwind sample of Chinese elementary and secondary schools.

"It's to get them over to China, to look at the school systems, to see some cultural sites and to really make those partnerships and build those bridges," said Mike Novak, assistant director of the institute.

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The Tennessee delegation will depart June 7 and will tour sites in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing, returning to the United States on June 17.

Novak said one purpose of the mission is to enhance educators' understanding of each other's methods. For example, he said, the pupil-teacher ratio is considerably smaller in China because schools hire 20 to 50 percent more faculty.

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In addition, Chinese teachers spend only 16 to 20 direct contact hours with the students out of their 40-hour workweek. They have the rest of the week to spend on planning and giving students' meaningful feedback compared to about two-and-a-half hours for American teachers.

Another difference, Novak noted, is in the parental involvement in their children's education and maintenance of order in the schools. While disciplinary modalities are similar, parental involvement is intense. A phone call from the school to the parents is a major event.

"If the school calls home, it's a giant deal, and the parents get behind the school 100 percent," Novak said. "In America, sometimes that's not always the case."

The Confucius Institute has sponsored two previous delegations, in 2012 and 2013.

The 2015 American participants are:

  • Susan Fanning, principal of Farrar Elementary School, Tullahoma City School District;
  • Debbie Edens, principal of East Middle School, Tullahoma City School District;
  • Amanda Edens, first-grade teacher and multicultural programming committee chair of East Side Elementary School, Hamilton County School District;
  • Robert Langford, principal of White House High School, Sumner County School District;
  • Jane Langford, middle school teacher, Sumner County School District;
  • Melva Eileen Nwankwo, instructor of communication and representative of John Espy of the International Program Office, Volunteer State Community College, Gallatin, Tennessee; and
  • Angela Elizabeth Rasnick, director of studies, The Webb School, Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

Novak, along with Confucius Institute Associate Director Paul (Yiping) Cui and MTSU International Education Outreach Officer Rachael Moore will accompany the group on its China travels.

While all in-China expenses are covered by the institute, airfare from and to the U.S. and visa fees are the responsibility of either the individuals or their schools.

The mission of the Confucius Institute at MTSU is to enhance understanding of Chinese language and culture, facilitate engagement with china and create opportunities for exchange and collaboration between communities in Tennessee and China.

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