This week we had our second Skype session with our sister school, Bo’ai PS, in Changzhao China. The clarity of the picture was amazing considering it was on wireless network.
What we tried this time was as the picture shows a student to student contact. Our two Year 6 students spoke initially in Mandarin asking questions of their peers in China and they spoke in English – a win – win for both sets of students. After the first “scripted” conversations it was then in plain English as the two students from China spoke very well. They asked questions of each other about school, pets, favourite things to do, sports and of course homework.
I know one impact the conversation had – about an hour later – as I walked through the senior building and two girls approached me and begged that I didn’t get any ideas about changing our school hours – they thought 7.30 am was a little too early to start school. The students in Years 5/6 at Bo’ai PS have about an 8 1/2 hr school day followed by at least 90 minutes of homework per night.
It was an amazing hour to watch four young people talk about different aspects of their lives. Our next conversation is in about 5 days and we are hoping to continue students conversations as well as set up our next visit in September.
I was reading in a recent magazine about how school leaders have a moral obligation to prepare our youth for an Asia centric world. I know its taken me two trips to China to start to appreciate both culture and language and know some starting points for my school. We know are busy working on permanent display spaces for Chinese artefacts around the school and funding inquiry topics and projects that promote a deeper sense of culture as well as celebrate children learning Mandarin through performances and conversations at school assemblies. Now we are working on building student to student relationships with our sister school through Skype and hopefully face to face contact some time in the future.
I’m interested in learning from others a little further down the road so to speak so any contributions or comments are appreciated.