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September 25, 2017

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Rural teachers offer creative strategies to boost the learning of their students

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Administrators and teachers from schools in remote areas shared their experiences in incorporating innovative teaching models into classrooms, in an event held by the Ministry of Education (MOE, 教育部) at the Chang Yung-Fa Foundation in Taipei City, Sunday.

Ministry officials said they hoped the symposium would prompt more rural schools to adopt successful methods and spark inspiration for more innovative curriculum designs around the nation.

Sharing sessions took place in the afternoon, where four speakers took turns discussing their respective experiences, such as in experimental and mixed-age education, special fieldtrips, summer camps, creative teaching methods for English and mathematics, and after-hours coursework assistance, among others.

Education Minister Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) said the ministry had dubbed 2015 the "Year of Innovative Action in Education," and actively explored different ways to guide the development of rural institutions, which often lack resources when compared to schools urban areas.

The Innovative Development Plan for Rural Education was introduced in April 28 last year. The plan included 29 sub-programs aimed at enhancing the learning of students, said Wu.

A total of 240 elementary and junior high schools participated in the program.

Lin Yi-song (林逸松), principal of Youmu Elementary School (有木國小) in New Taipei City's Sanxia District (三峽), shared her school's experience in designing fieldtrips with themes, such as outdoor exploration, Indigo Dye Art and Hakka Culture, or the ecology of fireflies — often spotted in mountainous areas in the region.

Also, Lin shared how the school cooperated with nearby farms and coffee shops, connecting the students and the community their school is a part of.

Principal at Lienchiang County's (連江縣) Chung Cheng Elementary and Junior High School (中正國民中小學), Chen Yu-jiao (陳玉嬌), explained in detail its math program, which requires teachers to undertake special training and coordinate camps for students.

"Math class has to shake students up, make them feel emotions," stressed Chen.

The MOE stated a main area of focus in the near future would be helping understaffed schools in rural areas recruit teachers.

From 2016 onward, elementary schools would have to appoint a "reasonable" number of teachers, estimated from students' total learning hours, stressed the minister.

Education in rural areas could only be "flipped," if society takes more interest in the economic situation of rural areas, bringing in more resources, said Wu.

Wu expressed his hopes that more people from different sectors would devote attention to creating an equal education environment, where all can flourish.

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