Dr. Rosemary Burton, Vice President of Accreditation and Industry Relations for Skipwith Academy recently spent several weeks working with an organization that is bringing western curriculum practices to Chinese children and families. The Chinese government is looking at the successful practices in education in America and is encouraging western experts to provide training to Chinese teachers in preschool programs. Dr. Burton has traveled to China three times in the past three years. During this trip she visited preschools in Beijing and in Xi’an where she presented in front of several hundred parents who were very interested in providing their children with the best possible education models that encourage creativity, innovation and problem solving. The American preschool model characterized by Developmentally Appropriate Practice, as established at Skipwith Academy, is one that is valued by these parents who attended in great numbers to learn about this opportunity for their children. Parents in China have been limited to one child per family; therefore, the educational success of their one child is a life goal of Chinese families that takes precedence over every other family priority.
Dr. Burton also conducted multiple trainings for teachers during her three weeks visiting two major cities, including Beijing, the current capital, and its historic capital in Xi’an, a city known for its Terra Cotta warriors and rich history that dates back more than 4000 years. Teachers listened attentively, through an English translator, taking copious notes, and participating in western style training activities that included hands on practice with real materials. Although this was a new way of approaching teaching, all teachers were excited and committed to learning a radically different approach to teaching young children.
Feedback from the teachers consisted of stories of their work with children during the past couple of years applying the lessons learned from Dr. Burton’s past training visits. They saw changes in the children in the areas of independence, problem solving, creativity, and social relations that have convinced them that this approach to learning is effective and what they want to see in children. The teachers were enlightened that the days of rote memorization as a learning tool may be a thing of the past. Dr. Burton has been asked to return in January to visit both the current schools in the program and additional schools that are coming on board. She has also received an invitation to visit Nepal to work with teachers in that country.