I was invited to help out a summer camp in Shanghai suburb for migrant workers’ children. This one-week camp took place in an abandoned church which was renovated later as a teaching place. Today saw a great start. Meanwhile the first day experience is quite different from my counselling experience in Camp America before, also very different from my expectation.
I had thought the children would be from poor families. But actually they dressed clean, behaved well and go to normal schools. They are just very normal. A few of them are silent and shy, I am not sure if this is a born quality or a product of social environment. China’s fast economic growth brought great life improvement for millions of people including the children I interacted today.
Children are divided into three groups based on age. Each group goes to a different room for a different activity (Computer, English, outdoor sports) for one hour, takes a break then switches to another room. This is not the same as their school setting (a normal school would have a fixed classroom for all types of classes). A few younger children were confused but quickly they were instructed to go to the right room.
One observation makes me wonder if a standard curriculum would be good for all. Among the youngest children, some of them are extremely explorative. They usually jumped to level 4 in computer class when the instructor only began to teach level 1. The instructor requested them to stop in order to follow the classroom pace. I am not too convinced by that approach, as I believe the early education is not only to teach kids how to adjust their behaviour to social protocol, but also to protect their exploration spirit and encourage experiment.
Funny enough, we asked the youngest children ‘what is your favourite thing to do?’ 9 out of 10 answered I like to study. Any parent or teacher would be very pleased to hear the answer. However I would much prefer my own children (one day) to have his/her favourite thing as to play.