Bananas, more bananas and posh meals.

One thing we have noticed so far in our first week is the large amount of bananas that have been on offer for us to eat. But to be fair, it is a good fruit to offer, most people like a banana.

So after one week of being in Shanghai you maybe thinking “So what is the difference between our schools and the Chinese schools?”

An obvious difference like I mentioned previously is the attitude and behaviour of the students in school. But there is also the huge investment that the government is putting into the education infrastructure, buildings etc. The fact teachers only teach for about 6 hours a week, yes that is correct, 6 hours! The rest of the time they use to plan lessons, attend lesson planning meetings, have one-to-one interventions with students and mark work. In fact all observations of lessons focus on the Maths content, nothing else. Was the sequence of questions being asked producing the best learning.

The thing which has blown us all away has been the numerical ability of the students, when every child of 11 can work out 37x 78 in about 5 seconds. Then they can spend more time focussing on the structure and understanding of key concepts.

We spent Friday in a Primary school, seeing the way these students get to be so good at Maths. One activity was a game based on picking 4 numbers and the students had to use the numbers to make 24. For example, if you had the numbers 4, 6, 2 and 8 you could do

2 x 6 + 8 + 4 = 24.

So the students were Year 3, and were asked to do this for the numbers 5,5,5,1. A student did it in about 3 seconds. See if you can do it. I will give you the answer tomorrow.

And my posh meal. Well it was with the Director of Education for Shanghai, the President of Shanghai University and the Directors of the NCETM. Our Headteacher had invited us to join them as he was going as well. We have found out it is extremely rude to refuse such invites so the four of us from our school went ate Michelin star food and drank some expensive wine.

Phew it’s tough this teaching lark!

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