“They’re used to sitting at their desks with their arms folded,” Nelson said, resting her own folded arms on top of a table to illustrate her point. “I tried to use kinetics. Body language is very important.”
Myers spent her month teaching the equivalent of high school students who could understand phrases and read in English, she said, although they had trouble picking up her sarcasm.
“I quit that after the second day,” she said with a laugh.
The teachers said they felt creativity among Chinese students was lacking in comparison to their American counterparts and more education that encouraged innovation and and outside-the-box thinking could help them bridge the gap.
Another difference they said they noticed between the two country’s education systems is that in China, a student and student’s family is responsible for their learning, as opposed to in the U.S. where teachers are mostly held accountable.
This sense of looking out for one’s own education was especially apparent in male students, Myers said, adding that female students collaborated with each other more.
Lang said a balance between both country’s extremes would likely be the best way to go. She also said she admired the level of respect Chinese students and citizens give teachers, adding that there’s even a national holiday in the country to celebrate those who work in education.
“I appreciated the respect we got,” Lang said. “I feel like I spend most of every August earning the respect of my students, which isn’t bad, it’s just the way it is.”
As the first teachers in the program to travel to China to teach, Lang, Myers and Nelson said they can take their firsthand experiences to provide guidance for those who will follow in their footsteps, from insight on the educational background of Chinese students to what to expect when it comes to the differences between Chinese and American cultures.