A group of 24 Chinese university professors are wrapping up a two-week stay in Kamloops on Friday after experiencing an education of their own.
The Leshan Normal University (LNU) teachers are taking a customized international training program at Thompson Rivers University in order to learn Western methods of teaching — and to hear them tell it, the difference is significant.
“We’re carrying out educational reforms in China because the Chinese have realized that our education system is backward,” said Jessica Xu, an LNU English grammar teacher. “We emphasize on teachers too much. We lay out a lot of assignments. We don’t teach to the students’ concerns.”
Xu said she’s excited by the teaching method seen in Canada because it focuses on student motivation.
She said stimulating students to organize curriculum activities and games turns them into long-time learners.
The international training program at Thompson Rivers University has been at the forefront of customized courses for students worldwide over the past several years.
The program forges connections as happened over the summer when TRU president Dr. Alan Shaver visited LNU in June, and LNU’s president Luo Dayu visited TRU in August.
Lori De Frias, manager of contract training, said this group of Chinese instructors may be the most open-minded group they’ve ever had.
“They absorb everything and find ways for how they’re going to take it home,” she said. “We’re very proud of them.”
The challenge lies in the number of students in each class — LNU sees 60 or more learners per course versus TRU’s 30 or 40.
The instructors’ education is broader than pedagogy. It also includes one-on-one time with local experts in their fields.
Fashion designing instructors, for example, have met with local designers for a take on Canadian methods for what’s called contact assignments. TRU has also hosted fine arts, music and pottery instructors, among others.
“So we’re taking the university back out to our city because our city’s so supportive,” said De Frias.
It hasn’t been all work, however. Teachers have also enjoyed many of the diverse activities Kamloops has to offer like golf and sailing.
“Blue sky and water, very, very beautiful,” said Carrie Liu, a LNU business and English instructor.
It all adds up to a positive take on the area.
“In my mind, it’s a very peaceful country,” said Tommy Liao, a LNU education management teacher.