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The Battle of Bohunt: a clash of Chinese and Anglo-Saxon cultures

25 Aug

A unique experiment was conducted at Bohunt School in Liphook, Hampsire, in the Summer Term 2015 when five teachers from China were transplanted into Bohunt School to teach 50 year 9 (13- and 14-year-olds) students for a period of four weeks. The rest of the year 9 students continued to receive the curriculum diet from their usual teachers in accordance with the national curriculum and pedagogical methods in this country.  (Ofsted described Bohunt as outstanding.)

At the end of the process, both groups were tested by the Institute of London University College London to see which set of students performed better in mathematics, science and Mandarin.  (At the time of writing, I had viewed only one of the four episodes so am unsure about what the outcome was.  However, there was much that I learnt from the experience of watching the first instalment.)

The five visiting teachers were filmed by the BBC working in conjunction with the Open University (OU) while teaching the Chinese way to see how well English children learnt through those methods.  The first instalment of the series, Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School, was, in a number of ways, a revelation and in other ways unsurprising.  Continue reading

How well are we doing educationally as a nation?

13 Apr

When we read articles in the press about the standards of children in schools, it is difficult to believe that several countries look to this nation as a shining example of educational practice. Yet it is true. In particular, England’s educational practice, especially the curriculum, qualifications and pedagogy, is the envy of most countries the world over.

I recall years ago, working as a sub-editor for The Statesman, an English daily in Calcutta, India, when a journalist with the most putrid English one could find East of Suez, boasted to fellow hacks that he was “Oxford-returned”.  I asked him what he meant by “Oxford-returned”.  He replied that he had been to Oxford.  I decided not to pursue the matter, knowing full well that, with his poor English, he most likely went on a visit to the town and its university to take a boat ride on The Thames rather than for purposes of study – a case of the cat going to see the Queen and frightening the little mouse under the chair.

The point I am trying to get across is that Oxford and Cambridge – like the education school, FE and HE systems – are highly valued in countries like India.   Parents, in the East and Far East, sacrifice much to get their progenies to study here.   Continue reading