Guest post: Sonnie Tan in China
I am a Psychology student from the University of York. This summer, I went to Xiamen, a second-tier city in southern China, to test out my business idea.
I used to teach English in public Chinese schools, and what I’ve realized is how severely this educational system oppresses and restricts children’s potential. A usual day in school looks like how farmers feed their ducks. Children are sat in their seats, accepting whatever that is being said by the teachers or written on their textbooks, then told to memorize what they’ve heard or read.
A typical rote learning classroom, just to its upmost extremeness. My students would tell me: “I need to learn the English grammar and how to write well.” And following the Chinese curriculum, none of these students could have a conversation with me in English. Students are not given the chance in school to practice and use what they’ve learned. Without activities like giving presentations or doing group work, students don’t learn how to communicate effectively and efficiently, and they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Under this educational system, children’s confidence and self-esteem level become a huge problem.
Bearing this social problem in mind, I adopted the pedagogy of competency-based learning to help children understand their strengths and develop a more well-rounded skillset. I decided to focus on communication, specifically public-speaking.
My business was running family events that use interactive and innovative games to help children from ages 7-12 years, to speak more confidently. I provided my classes to companies’ employees and their children as part of their employee benefit scheme; I also collaborated with migrant children centers and gave my classes as an extracurricular program.
All of these families had never given a speech before, but after four weeks of active learning and playing, both the children and parents learned how to write and give a speech, use body language during a speech, ask questions, and be an active listener.
Sonnie Tan is building out The Edtech Podcast across Chinese podcast players.