MTSU’s Confucius Institute sponsors educators’ China trip

Some Tennessee school administrators will devote a small part of their summer to learning more about education in China.

The Confucius Institute at MTSU is leading a delegation of educators on a 10-day excursion to China for a whirlwind sampling of Chinese elementary and secondary schools.

“It’s to get them over to China to look at the school systems, to see some cultural sites and to really make those partnerships and build those bridges,” said Mike Novak, assistant director of the institute.

A delegation of Tennessee educators heading to China for a Confucius Institute-sponosored informational trip may have a chance to see the Beijing National Stadium known as “the Bird’s Nest,” shown in this 2008 photo by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, and other historical sites during their visit. (File photo courtesy of Dr. Sidney A. McPhee)

The Tennessee delegation will depart June 7 and will tour sites in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing, returning to the United States on June 17.

Novak said one purpose of the mission is to enhance educators’ understanding of each other’s methods. For example, he said, the pupil-teacher ratio is considerably smaller in China because those schools hire 20 to 50 percent more faculty than Western schools.

Chinese teachers also spend only 16 to 20 direct contact hours with the students out of their 40-hour workweek.

Mike Novak

Mike Novak

They have the rest of the week to spend on planning their courses and providing students with meaningful feedback. American teachers have a comparative 2 ½ hours per week for those tasks.

Another difference, Novak noted, is in the parental involvement in their children’s education and maintenance of order in the schools. While disciplinary methods are similar, parental involvement is intense. A phone call from the school to the parents is a major event.

“If the school calls home, it’s a giant deal, and the parents get behind the school 100 percent,” Novak said. “In America, sometimes that’s not always the case.”

Confucius Institute logoThe Confucius Institute sponsored previous delegations in 2012 and 2013. The 2015 American participants are:

  • Susan Fanning, principal of Farrar Elementary School, Tullahoma City School District.
  • Debbie Edens, principal of East Middle School in the Tullahoma City School District.
  • Amanda Edens, first-grade teacher and multicultural programming committee chair of East Side Elementary School in the Hamilton County School District.
  • Robert Langford, principal of White House High School in the Sumner County School District.
  • Jane Langford, middle school teacher, Sumner County School District.
  • Melva Eileen Nwankwo, instructor of communication and representative of John Espy of the International Program Office, Volunteer State Community College, Gallatin, Tennessee.
  • Angela Elizabeth Rasnick, director of studies at The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

Novak, along with Confucius Institute Associate Director Yiping “Paul” Cui and MTSU International Education Outreach Officer Rachael Moore, will accompany the group on its China travels.

While the institute covers all expenses in China, airfare from and to the United States and visa fees are the responsibility of either the individuals or their schools.

The Confucius Institute at MTSU’s mission is to enhance understanding of Chinese language and culture, facilitate engagement with and create opportunities for exchange and collaboration between communities in Tennessee and China.

For more information, contact the institute at 615-494-8696 or cimtsu@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)