Education Department Group Travels to China

For more information, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – June 15, 2011 – Fifteen from Coker College, 10 students and 5 faculty and community members, recently returned from a two-week educational tour of China, which was hosted by Coker’s education department.

“This study tour exceeded my expectations, said Education Professor Dr. Sara Odom.  “Our China tour manager gave us an extraordinary look into Chinese culture, and our Coker teacher candidates were the beneficiaries of experiences that they will long remember and draw upon with their own students in future classrooms.

“Everywhere we visited, we were met with warm smiles of welcome,” Odom added.

“Our group disembarked from the tour bus and walked a few blocks through narrow alleyways toward the ‘Master of Nets Garden and Home.’  The locals that we met on the way seemed very interested in us.  Annie, our guide, had told us that many Chinese folk in some of these less-metropolitan areas do not encounter many westerners.  To them we are ‘big noses,’” said Professor of Geology Fred Edinger.

“We are obviously very different in many ways from the residents there, but I never would have guessed that it is our noses that would set us apart in their minds.  In most ways people are the same all over the world, but it is interesting to discover how different cultures find ways to distinguish, and to ‘label,’ those who are from other places.”

As part of the experience, students studied texts about the historical, geographical, archaeological and cultural contexts of China, which, with 5,000 years of continuous history, is center of one of the oldest civilizations.  They explored how these factors might influence the philosophy of China’s current educational system and impact student achievement.

The journey represented the culminating experience of a semester-long study that focused on the central question:  Why do Chinese students typically outperform American students on international comparisons of mathematics competency?

Education discussions centered largely on the ways Chinese and American teachers differ in their teaching pedagogy with regard to their respective cultures.

During the visit, the group visited two school settings, the Children’s Palace of Shanghai and a rural elementary school in Fengdu.  At the palace, they observed an operation designed to provide artistically gifted and talented an opportunity to further develop their talents in such areas as music, art, movement and languages.  At the elementary school site, Coker’s teacher candidates were able to observe a math class in session.

As they reflected in their journals about all they had studied, seen and heard during the China experience, Coker students characterized the Chinese as “focused, observant of details, hardworking and patient.”

As part of the experience, students studied texts about the historical, geographical, archaeological and cultural contexts of China, which, with 5,000 years of continuous history, is center of one of the oldest civilizations.  They explored how these factors might influence the philosophy of China’s current educational system and impact student achievement.

During the visit, the group visited two school settings, the Children’s Palace of Shanghai and a rural elementary school in Fengdu.  At the palace, they observed an operation designed to provide artistically gifted and talented an opportunity to further develop their talents in such areas as music, art, movement and languages.  At the elementary school site, Coker’s teacher candidates were able to observe a math class in session.

Coker students in the program also used the trip to explore the beginnings of Chinese civilization at the Shaanxi History Museum in Xian, where they viewed historical artifacts and treasures from the Han and Tang dynasties and at the archaeological site of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, where 8,000 finely sculpted, life-size terracotta soldiers and horses were discovered in 1974 and where excavations continue today.

In Beijing, the group climbed a section of the Great Wall of China, the longest man-made structure on earth and walked among the Ming tombs, burial site of China’s thirteen emperors.  They visited the Forbidden City, known today as the Palace Museum, and walked Tiananmen Square, the largest public plaza in the world and site of the 1989 student uprising.

The students saw the Three Gorges Dam system, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world. A fascinating structure nearly six times the size of Hoover Dam, the Three Gorge’s Dam has displaced over a million Chinese, corrected a major flooding issue of China and provided electricity for many.

Other cultural experiences included a visit to the Suzhou silk factory workshop where students observed each stage of silk production from the silkworm egg to the silk thread to the silk products.  They enjoyed a dinner theater performance of the famous Tang Dynasty Troupe; exercising, singing, and dancing with the locals in one of their parks, and cooking a Mongolian hot pot dish from scratch.

On the final day of the trip, the group toured Beijing’s Hutong district, one of the oldest neighborhoods in China, a place in which many structures were slowly being demolished and replaced with new construction until Chinese government officials recognized the need to preserve at least some of them for historical purposes.

“This trip was not about me,” said Wayne Brown, an education major from Florence, S.C.  “It is about all the people I will encounter in the rest of my life, and it’s about the people with whom I will share this experience through stories in the future.”

Photos from the trip.

 

Student Participants:

  • Education major Stephanie Barrett; Chesterfield, S.C.
  • Education major Wayne Brown; Florence, S.C.
  • Education major Janna Burch; Mt. Croghan, S.C.
  • Business major Andrew Caputa; Germany
  • Education major Lynn Carter; Florence, S.C.
  • Education major Kayla Hawksworth; McBee, S.C.
  • Education major Melanie McGrath; Marion, S.C.
  • History major Daniel Meyer; Walterboro, S.C.
  • Education major Paige Parrott; Scranton, S.C.
  • Education major Amanda Witt; Wedgefield, S.C.

Professors and others who accompanied the group:

  • Dr. Fred Edinger, Professor of Geology
  • Mrs. Nancy Edinger, Director of Internship Programs and School Services
  • Dr. Sara Odom, Professor of Education
  • Mr. Phillip Odom, Retired Progress Energy Engineer
  • Miss Natasha Meyer, Registered Nurse

 

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Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach. For more information contact Barb Steadman: 843-397-9959 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
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