When it comes to American education, the eyes are often toward New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Massachusetts and other developed areas, but most of the United States is not equivalent to Silicon Valley Manhattan.
A friend of Bund King, Dr. Ni, has experienced American public education firsthand in recent years. I would like to introduce her story in detail, and most importantly, her experience is really quite strange:
She has taught in a higher education institution in Guangdong Province, with the title of associate professor, teaching Chinese and journalism.
Settled in Florida after arriving in the United States. Or as a teacher, but all the way through different stages of kindergarten, junior high school and high school in the United States, the teaching is no longer Chinese, but mathematics.
Now she teaches in one of the best nine-point schools in her district, but her last job was in one of the most violent and chaotic poor schools in Florida.
Dr. Ni is intelligent and willing to share, and her talk, the face of American education seems to show more clearly. The Bund King is also more aware of the understanding of “foreign education,” indeed, only those who have experienced it can have the most vivid feelings.
Unevenness in American Education
Many years ago, Dr. Ni, a professor at a university in Guangdong Province, went to Atlanta, USA for a study visit. He got married and settled in Florida.
“Florida” comes from Spanish, meaning “where flowers bloom.” Although my hometown is in New York, I especially love Florida, which is located in the southeastern United States and has a warm climate.
Florida’s education level is in the middle of the United States, ranking about 20 in U.S. News.
After coming to the United States, Dr. Ni still wanted to continue his education career, but in the unfamiliar cultural environment, he faced challenges and “demotion.”
The problem of mute English is relatively easy to handle, Dr. Ni’s learning is methodical and persistent, and his language progress is rapid; She knows that working in a foreign country is about accumulating experience, and she has the courage to start over, so she doesn’t mind starting from the basics.
1. Private kindergarten, the teachers are almost “Laborers”
How basic is it? The Chinese professor began her journey to America in kindergarten.
Initially, Dr. Ni entered a Montessori kindergarten, where children’s self-exploration was highly valued; The second job, and went to the top of the chain kindergarten, which encourages children to explore freely, but also value semi-structured “play learning,” and Dr. Ni’s idea more congenial.
In short, the concept of enlightenment education in the United States is very good, but the actual work experience is very grinding. In front of hundreds of college students, Dr. Ni can talk, but in the face of running around and crying children, it seems that they are in the battlefield without gunpowder, which is a huge consumption to the body and mind.
In the United States, nursery schools are often mixed with preschool. The advantages of Dr Ni’s private kindergarten over the public one are that it can take in younger children and spend longer hours in school to keep busy working parents at ease.
Tuition fees are more than $1,000 a month, but according to Dr. Ni, the threshold for private kindergarten teachers is low, high school diplomas and no criminal record are basic, most of them are new immigrants like her, without the welfare benefits of public schools. “it’s basically the feeling of hard work.”
After transitioning to private kindergarten for two years, Dr. Ni considered applying for a secondary school position in Florida.
2. To one of the most violent schools in Florida.
With Dr. Ni’s qualifications, it is theoretically not difficult to continue to teach Chinese in America, but the demand for Chinese teachers in Florida is really small. For her future career, she quickly made the bold decision to switch from Chinese to math.
I didn’t touch math for 25 years, reviewed for two months, and successfully passed the teacher qualification examination at one time.Later, she gradually saw the difference in educational philosophy between China and the United States, but the feeling at that time was that the basic education in China was indeed solid.
Several junior high school job offers, one of which is closest to home. This is a Title 1 school with a rating of 2.”Do you know what 90% of students get free lunch means?”This was the first question asked by the school’s principal to interview Dr. Ni.
Whether to teach poor schools, Dr. Ni was hesitant at first, but on the one hand, she sympathized with these children from poor families, and on the other hand, everything was imagined before she experienced it, and she could not predict the challenges ahead.
Dr. Nee became the only Chinese teacher in the school. In this school, the biggest problem she encountered was not teaching, but how to do a good job of classroom management.
The “cultural shock” was beyond her imagination.
In the face of this group of young students, Dr. Hui’s verbal provocation is common, and the words with F are like the mantra. Less than a week into the school year, a student deliberately said “I don’t understand her language” in an attempt to provoke the new teacher.
Dr Ni told the students that accents are part of a person’s culture and that she had passed the official UGC exam, spoke three languages and was qualified to teach them and should be respected.
The United States does not have the so-called “respect for teachers and education” tradition, let alone these children. Once or twice is fine, but similar personal attacks happen all the time, and Dr. Ni still has moments of emotional breakdown.
Her colleagues reassured her not to take the student’s attack as a particular target. Dr. Ni also realized that these children at the bottom of the social class are filled with ignorant and fearless anger, and their external attacks have no specific direction, just a means of self-protection.
As a teacher, pulling is also common, the children can not vent their energy, it is used to fight. Dr. Ni survived the physical attack, but once saw a physical education teacher at the same school, was knocked to the ground by a tall 12- or 13-year old classmate – she was shocked when she watched the news on TV at night, and the school actually ranked among the most violent in Florida, with at least dozens of fights a month. It is hard to believe that you are living in the “real America.”
The school has a high turnover rate and many people leave quietly. However, as the only Chinese teacher, Dr. Ni persisted longer than the principal expected. The principal encouraged her that she didn’t expect you to handle these kids.
Dr. Ni knows that she has not done it, but it is comforting to know that even in such an environment, there are still many children who are very energetic and warm.
Some children will give her gifts to comfort her when she is sad; Other children, such as the only Chinese student in the class, Xiao Yun, are not only polite, but also do very well in school.
In one test, Xiao Yun even became the only full score child in the entire school district (about 20,000 people), causing a sensation. Dr. Ni observed Xiao Yun in ordinary times, afraid that she would be bullied by her peers, but did not find any signs. It seems that despite the chaos, school is still school.
At such a bottom school, most of the students will become blue collar, but a small number of students will still have the opportunity to go to college and change their fate – students Dr. Ni does not want to see as bad children, most of whom are just not so lucky.
After that junior high school, Dr. Ni went to the best 9 points high school in the district to teach, work experience can be described as a thousand different, chaos and violence suddenly dissipated. Under the podium, most of the children are middle-class families, polite, concerned about learning.Of course, this is the real America.
The Fragmentation and Inclusion of the American Public System
Native Americans often say that the public education system is broken. Dr. Ni visited different school districts and saw for himself that the operation of the public system was difficult and overwhelming.
Most notably, there is a severe shortage of teaching staff, especially after the outbreak.
Lack of teachers, especially STEM and special education teachers. Special education, or education for exceptional children, “was reported in 80 percent of states before the epidemic.” ; Lack of school bus drivers, resulting in some school children, often late for school; There’s even a shortage of canteen aunts and cleaners…
In America, teaching is an unsought-after profession.There are few advantages other than stability (protected by the teachers’ association and almost an iron rice bowl).
In Dr. Ni’s succinct words, “Teaching is the lowest-paid profession in the United States.”Why is there a shortage of STEM teachers?
Because people with STEM knowledge and skills can easily find a higher return career, there is no need to teach hard, “stay in the teaching profession, the basic love ah.”
However, in addition to seeing the heavy load of the American public system, Dr. Ni felt the most is the tolerance of American public education. “A system is overwhelmed because it carries too many functions.”
Accommodate almost all children
“If children don’t go to school, their fate is likely to be shot in the streets.”
The K-12 public education system in the United States, the basic function is to enable most students to have basic listening, speaking, reading, writing and numeracy, but it also comes with many other functions, such as serving as a canteen and shelter for some children.
For poor students, free school meals are likely to be the only source of food nutrition.
The children of illegal immigrants, the children of the homeless, the public schools take them as far as possible to keep them off the streets and reduce the chance that they will greet a bullet without eyes.
Public education in the United States also provides diverse care.
The special education system just mentioned in the United States is quite systematic and mature. Students with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, and mobility problems all benefit from this system – and the number of such children is more common than is generally believed.
In America, ordinary teachers also take special-ed classes; In addition,The class will have a co-teacher (co-teacher) to help., that is, professional special education teachers, to provide one-on-one support to students in need.
Every time Dr. Ni sees the interaction between special education teachers and children, he feels that these colleagues are like angels, how to be so patient and tireless – of course, this is also an important reason for the lack of special education, because it is too difficult to do.
Second, as a country of immigrants, public schools are also good for children of different backgrounds, such as language, will be equipped with special auxiliary courses.
Third, children in public schools tend to have mixed levels of good and good, but more scientific hierarchical teaching has been set up. For backward students, there will be intervention (intervention) to help them reach the benchmark; for top students, they will be encouraged to go upstream and set up honor classes, followed by pre-university courses.
“Of course, there are also some very bright but not diligent students who” hang around “in regular classes and waste time repeating simple knowledge.” Dr. Nee smiled wryly.But in general, the public system has achieved great inclusiveness because of its multiple functions and care.
Be a teacher and a mother who knows how to let go
From a Chinese university to an American public high school, Dr. Ni experienced not only the transformation of family and career, but also the collision of ideas and culture.
In the case of mathematics education, China and the US are very different.
American children do not know what a multiplication table is. Ninth graders struggle to understand the negative burden, especially when they encounter scores, and they are afraid to do so.
Without the formula, there will be public access to the exam table, there will be calculators hand;In terms of teaching, the United States adopts a “spiral” approach, repeating some of the content of the previous semester each semester, and the progress is not comparable to that of China.
So far, Dr. Ni has doubts about some of the practices in the United States, such as she does not fully agree with the total reliance on formulas and calculators in mathematics learning, “In my opinion, if the lack of basic computing ability, it will inevitably hinder the entry into higher levels of mathematics learning.”
On the other hand, she also appreciates the cultivation of students’ thinking in the United States, attaching importance to concepts, argumentation, calculation, spatial analysis and other abilities, “otherwise the United States would not be able to cultivate a large number of mathematical talents in high-end fields.”
The collision of ideas is also reflected in the attitude of learning, Dr. Ni saw some children in the class “waste time,” still can’t help but “for them” feel anxious, she smiled bitterly: “Maybe teaching is still a job that makes people feel guilty.”
At the beginning of teaching, Dr. Ni put a great burden on his shoulders. When he saw the backward students, he talked to them, gave them special meetings, and even gave them free lessons after class.
But gradually – on the one hand, she realized that she could not take care of every student, and on the other hand, after staying in America for a long time, she also “do as the Romans do” and respect everyone’s different paths and choices. She realized that there was no need for students to take the 100 test. As a teacher, what she could do was to inspire and guide them, and the second was to guarantee the bottom line of their studies.
In America, it is true that grades play a small part in the assessment of students. Letting go also means that educators can give them a certain amount of time and space to grow up and see children in a more diverse perspective.
When it comes to parenting, letting go is also a required course in the United States.
In the present 9 points high school, Dr. Ni saw a variety of American parents, chicken from the baby, no less than the domestic level, not only academic, sports, art, interest and so on are all caught, dazzling.
For family education, Dr. Ni’s attitude is: “Chicken is not a chicken child, first of all, to know yourself clearly, take me for example, the first is no energy, usually very busy work, want to empty when home; second, unable to do all aspects of proficient, nor the perseverance of chicken children,” she smiled, or forget it.
American education may not have anything to do with climbing vines.
My son went to the United States from primary school in China, which has changed a lot over the years. Children who used to do little housework are now big manual boys, cooking, mowing the grass and even repainting the house themselves. “American education values these, because we ultimately rely on soft skills alone, many jobs will be replaced, but soft skills and life skills are always needed.”
With his son 1.85 meters old, Dr. Ni thought it would be good for him to play ball, and he did like to run on the playground, but not to play, but to play-he was obsessed with orchestras, using the band as another home, spending more time on it than studying.
At first, Dr. Ni felt that there was nothing “good” in the band, but she gradually became accustomed to the idea of American education. “Parents just push their children when they need help, and it is up to them to see how far they can go.”
In fact, she sees many American children go to school not to look forward to class, but to participate in various ball games, interest groups, and mingle with other children. At least, Dr. Nee thinks it’s better than kids being afraid to go to school.
Many of my son’s other interests, such as computer programming, biology, chemistry, “give him a variety of opportunities to explore, he will look back on the school days, what kind of colorful memories.”
The son told them that he planned to take a gap year and work to apply for university. Dr. Nee said no problem.
Perhaps, tolerance may not be the best education, but a good education must be inclusive enough.