I am a big fan of educators developing relationships above and beyond the normal day-in/day-out learning models. Americans need to be more receptive to all sort of learning experiences. Whether these new learning experiences come from nearby businesses showing students new business trends, or inviting teachers from China to teach Chinese language skills to middle and high school students, American’s need to be less fearful of differences, and more open to knowledge.
Too often, parents challenge good plans by school boards that seek to incorporate more cultural learning. Parents argue that exposure to different cultures, and often Chinese and Arabic cultures are used as examples, dilutes American culture. These parents feel their children are at risk of picking up arabic language and become Muslims, or perhaps they feel learning Chinese will transform their middle schooler into a stark raving Communist.
I’m glad that is not the case at the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Delaware. “The teachers are from China, and they are staying with two Red Clay volunteer host families as they work to build a Chinese language program in Delaware and a model for other districts to follow if they want to teach the language. With the program, China hopes to build a cultural and linguistic understanding, and Delaware hopes to broaden the academic experience of its youth.”
This type of relationship is precisely what makes successful people. Allowing students to learn directly from Chinese teachers Chinese language and culture is an experience to which no monetary value can be attached. Every school district in the nation should be engaging in such activities.
One concern I have is related to this comment: “Since the teachers are only teaching level one, this leaves time to work on the statewide curriculum.” To me, whatever that statewide curriculum is cannot compete with the value of education these students are receiving. I have little faith in statewide curriculum.
However, points I have stressed in other articles are highlighted in this article. Specifically, the importance of introducing Chinese culture to Delaware’s youth. “The language and cultural connections are important because China is Delaware’s third-largest trade partner, Pullam said. The state exported $361 million to China in 2010, up 21 percent from 2009. Children learning Chinese will help Delaware in a global economy, she said.”
Further supporting early points of mine in previous postings, are the rewards students receive from studying another culture. “But it’s not just about China, Pullam noted. There’s value in teaching a variety of languages in schools. Besides helping students in careers, learning a second language is an important academic achievement, she said.”
I completely agree, though I would interchange the order of the benefits enumerated. I offer that the “academic achievement” is the more immediate, or “proximate” reward, while helping students with careers is the future, or “distal,” reward.