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当美国教育方法遇到中国应试制度

更新时间:2015-10-30 11:31:12 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The American Classroom in China
当美国教育方法遇到中国应试制度

The meeting began in a stark, white-tiled lecture hall on the largest island of the Chinese archipelago of Zhoushan, where the East China Sea meets the Yangtze Delta. The sole decoration was a greeting written in English in multicolored chalk on the blackboard: “Welcome Parents and Students.”

会议是在一个铺着白色瓷砖的简朴讲堂里举行的,它位于中国舟山群岛最大的岛屿上,也就是东海和长江三角洲交汇的地方。讲堂内唯一的装饰是用彩色粉笔在黑板上写的英语致词:“欢迎家长和学生们。”

It was to be my first parent meeting at Zhoushan high school. Being the only laowai, or foreigner, in attendance, I sat in the front row next to my translator, who had just completed a degree in linguistics.

这是我第一次参加舟山中学的家长会。作为与会的唯一一名老外,我坐在前排,旁边是我的翻译,后者刚刚拿到语言学学位。

After the headmaster finished his speech, Maolin Liu, director of our program, the High School Course Joint Educational Project, spoke about how our students could improve. Then it was my turn. With the help of my translator, I conveyed my optimism about the students’ progress. I mentioned that participation was key to their success because students can learn from one another, and I asked that parents encourage their children to engage more fully. A few parents nodded.

校长讲完话之后,这个高中课程联合教育项目(High School Course Joint Educational Project)的负责人刘茂林(音)就我们的学生可以如何获得提高发表了讲话。然后就轮到我了。在翻译的帮助下,我表示自己对学生们取得进步非常有信心。我提到学生们的参与是未来取得成功的关键,因为他们可以相互学习,我还请求家长们鼓励自己的孩子更充分地参与进来。一些家长点了点头。

I elaborated on my belief that our students needed to become more self-directed in their studies, and enthusiastically described a student-centric teaching style. As my message was translated, it seemed to create unease. And then the questions came.

我还详细阐述了自己的教育理念,即我们的学生需要在学习方面更有自主性,并且满腔热情地描述了一种以学生为中心的教学方式。这些话被翻译成中文之后,似乎在现场引起了不安。接着,家长们把问题抛了过来。

“We understand that a student must learn more than 7,000 English words to get a high score on the Toefl test,” one concerned father asked. “Will they be ready in three years to be accepted to a good foreign university?”

“我知道一个学生必须掌握7000多个英语单词才能在托福考试中拿到高分,”一位担忧的父亲问道。“三年后他们能做好准备,能被好的外国大学录取吗?”

The next question came from Vivian’s mother, the military officer. “How do I force my child to learn independently?” she inquired.

接着提问的是薇薇安(Vivian)的母亲、一名军官。“怎样才能迫使自己的孩子自主学习呢?”她问道。

Before I could answer, a father cut in. He wondered if this “independent learning” was just a way to allow the American teachers to be lazy and not deliver lessons.

我还没来得及回答,一位父亲插话进来。他想知道这种“自主学习”是否只是美国老师偷懒不上课的一种方法。

At this point, one of the Chinese teachers objected to such a disrespectful question being asked of the waijiao, or foreign teacher. Mr. Liu’s assistant leaned over and whispered apologetically: “They have no way to comprehend what this type of learning is about. We have to teach the parents, too.”

此时,在场的一名中国老师就家长对外教提出这么不敬的问题表示了反对。刘茂林的助手探过身来,略带歉意地轻声对我说:“他们没法理解这种学习方式。我们也必须教育家长。”

I learned some surprising things that day, as well as throughout the two years that followed. It was the last time, however, that I was invited to a parents meeting.

那天我了解到一些让人吃惊的事,接下来的两年也是如此。不过,那天之后我再没被邀请去参加家长会。

I had come to Zhoushan high school in September 2012 with instructions from Southlands Christian Schools, in suburban Los Angeles, to teach exactly as I would in a California classroom. Zhoushan had partnered with Southlands in a revolutionary experiment to give students a chance to participate in a joint Sino-American curriculum. Independent learning was to be the core, as preparation for an American university.

2012年9月,我被洛杉矶郊区的南岸基督中学(Southlands Christian Schools)派到舟山的中学授课,派遣指令要求我使用与自己在加州的授课完全一样的方式。这是因为,舟山的中学与南岸基督中学合作开展了一项变革性实验项目,让学生们有机会参与一项中美联合课程。自主学习本该是这个项目的核心,让学生们为将来上美国大学做好准备。

I had come to China with the conviction that I could teach these young people to think independently, and that they would see how valuable a tool it could be in their education. But I would discover how aggressively China’s education system resists the notion of student-centric learning, as I watched students scramble for the simplest metrics of academic success.

来中国时,我坚信自己可以教这些年轻人独立思考,坚信他们会明白这个工具对他们的教育多么有价值。但后来,当我看到学生们为了好成绩针对极其简化的衡量标准而拼命竞争时,才发现中国的教育制度是如此强烈地排斥以学生为中心的学习方式。

Because the gaokao score is what matters to Chinese colleges, grade-point average seemed a secondary concern to students and parents. Oral participation in the classroom and critical thinking were often lost in the test’s looming shadow.

因为高考分数对上大学是最重要的,平均积分点对学生和家长而言似乎就不那么重要了。而且在考试的重压之下,学生们往往不看重批判性思维和课堂上的口头发言。

One day, after dealing with rampant cheating and plagiarism, I felt it was time to have a serious talk with my students. I even had the lecture translated into Mandarin to avoid any claims of mistranslations from my English-proficient students. The lesson was obvious, I thought: If you wrote down an answer that you didn’t think up, and you wrote three or more words of it in a row, you must cite the source. Otherwise it’s stealing. Your work must be created by you. Just moments later, I noticed a girl gawking at another’s brazen attempt to grab a classmate’s work (which I’d just checked) and present it as her own. Clearly, my lecture was not hitting home.

有一天,在处理完猖獗的作弊和抄袭行为后,我觉得是时候与学生进行一番严肃交谈了。我甚至将讲话内容翻译成中文,以免我那些通晓英语的学生声称存在误译的情况。我觉得我说得很明白:如果你写下的答案不是你想出来的,你连续写下三个或更多这类单词,你就必须注明来源。否则就是剽窃。你的作业必须由你完成。片刻之后,我发现一名女孩呆呆地看着另一名女孩肆无忌惮地夺过一名同学的作业(我刚刚检查过的),把它当成自己的作业。很明显,我的话白讲了。

I needed some backup. During a break, I explained to their head teacher what had happened. She dutifully explained to the guilty girls, as well as to the entire class, how this English class was different. “When Mr. Metz is here, this is an American classroom. I told you, cheating is not allowed in the American class.”

我需要一些支持。在课间休息期间,我告诉了校长刚才发生的事情。她尽职尽责地向这些犯错的女孩及整个班级说明我的英语课的不同之处。“梅茨(Metz)老师在这里的时候,这就是美国课堂。我告诉你们,美国课堂不允许作弊。”

I began to understand an underlying difference in educational philosophy. China focuses on the end result; America cares about the process of getting there.

我开始了解教育哲学的根本差异。中国侧重最终结果;美国则关注获得最终结果的过程。

During a surprise visit to my classroom, a Zhoushan assistant principal and the Southlands overseas principal observed a lesson during which students were silently writing five-paragraph essays as I conferenced with each of them to see if they understood the material.

一次,该校副校长和南岸基督中学海外校长突然来到教室,听了一节课。当时在课堂上,学生们默默地写着五段论的文章,而我则跟他们每个人进行讨论,以保证他们理解了相关材料。

About a month later, in a QQ exchange (a popular instant messaging program in China), my supervisor, Mr. Liu, wrote: “Your lesson was not successful.”

大约一个月后,在QQ上交流时,督导我的工作的刘茂林写道:“你的课并不成功。”

I was struck by the uncharacteristic directness of the comment — and its content — and asked how I could remedy the situation. “We will have suggestions for you to follow and then observe you again,” Mr. Liu wrote.

他那不同寻常的直白评论让我感到震惊,我问他该如何进行补救。刘茂林写道,“我们会给你提些建议,然后再进行观察。”

They did have suggestions — individual conferencing is inefficient, make full use of teaching time in class, write difficult parts of the lesson in red on the board — which I followed.

他们确实提了建议——单独讨论效率太低,充分利用课堂教课时间,在黑板上用红笔标注课堂难点,我采纳了这些建议。

And they did observe me, day after day. Sometimes up to seven people began to appear at the back of the classroom to chatter and take notes on my lesson delivery. They also privately interviewed my students, who reported they were indeed benefiting from these American learning methods. One even confessed that she enjoyed having me as a teacher. Soon after, there were more suggestions, but Chinese administrators stopped appearing in my classroom.

他们确实对我展开观察。有时我上课的时候,会有多达七人出现在教室后方,相互交谈并做笔记。他们还在私下询问我的学生们。学生们称,自己确实从这些美国学习方法中受益。一名学生甚至承认,很喜欢我担任她的老师。不久之后,中方的管理人员提出了更多建议,但他们没有再来教室听课。

One afternoon during my second year, I told students to make a quick character sketch in their notebooks. I asked them to write down a name, a job and an age for their character. After five minutes, most still had a blank piece of paper in front of them. I then implored them to skip the name and job, and just write an age. Still nothing. I then asked them to write down a number between 1 and 100. After some time, they all had written down a number, but not without difficulty. I was stumped.

在我执教的第二年,我在一个下午让学生们在笔记本上快速地写一篇人物特写。我让他们写下人物的名字、工作和年龄。五分钟后,大部分人还守着一张白纸。我后来让他们跳过名字和工作,只写出年龄。还是什么都没写。然后我让他们在1到100之间选一个数字写下来。过了一段时间,他们都写下了一个数字,但这并非易事。我被难住了。

Tenth-grade language arts courses commonly call for a student to create an entire story, from beginning to end. My students had trouble creating a simple character. How to unblock their creativity? Having been an actor for years, I had a hunch: theater games.

十年级的语言艺术课通常要求学生创作一个有头有尾的完整故事。我的学生却连构思出一个简单的人物都有困难。如何解放他们的创造力呢?我曾当过几年的演员,我有了一个想法:表演游戏。

As far as the administrators were concerned, however, we were just wasting time. I later learned that moving desks was frowned upon. As were videos, despite their inclusion in the Southlands online teaching materials.

但就管理人员而言,我们只是在浪费时间。我后来得知,他们不喜欢随意搬动课桌的做法。视频也不受支持,尽管南岸基督中学的在线教学材料包涵它们。

Yet despite the frustrations, when I think back on Zhoushan Island, I smile. I recollect intrepid students sneaking into the faculty dining room to practice their English with me at lunch. They lingered after class, and discussed their visions for China’s future.

尽管有着种种不如意之处,回想起舟山,我还是会面带微笑。我记得有些胆大的学生会溜进教职工餐厅,为的是在吃午餐时与我练习英语。他们会在课后留下来,讨论对中国未来的设想。

I remember a student named Sam who often popped by our clock tower living room for after-dinner chats, driven by curiosity about the outside world, quietly amassing ideas and opinions.

我记得有个叫萨姆(Sam)的学生经常出现在我们在钟楼的起居室,想在晚饭后聊聊天,因为他对外面的世界很好奇,在悄悄地搜集思想和观点。

His learning was happening outside of the school, frequently on the Internet. Sex education, for example, is not taught in Chinese schools, but it was evident from conversations with Sam that he and his classmates were desperate for information on the topic.

他的学习发生在校园之外,往往通过互联网实现。比方说,中国的学校不进行性教育,但从与萨姆的谈话中,可以明显感受到他那帮同学极度渴望获得在这方面的讯息。

Sam, who currently studies hotel management in Switzerland, recently chatted with me about how his generation is unique for not only taking their education into their own hands but also expressing critical opinions via social media.

萨姆目前在瑞士学习酒店管理。近期与我聊天时,他谈到了自己这一代人的独特之处:不仅将教育掌握在自己手中,还会在社交媒体上表达批判性观点。

And I thought that, in the end, perhaps neither I nor the American Common Core could take credit for teaching these students to think independently. Some were acquiring what Sam called “the equipment for learning” — the ability to learn how to learn — all on their own.

于是我想,说到底,教会这些学生独立思考的,或许既不是我,也不是美国的共同核心课程(Common Core)。一些人在获取萨姆口中的“学习技能”——学会如何学习的能力。而他们,靠的完全是自己。

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