Tapping into both halves of the brain
My favorite photo of the day was of these two girls. Students work with partners on most assignments, helping each other. Normally, a classroom full of talking students means they’re off task, but these students restricted their conversations to school work, and nothing more.
One long-standing criticism of Asian education is the overreliance on memorization of facts and formulas, essentials in earning top scores on standardized exams.
The other side of the brain, the creative half, wasn’t fostered. Not so at Kau Yan School in Hong Kong, where a morning of typical instruction turns to an afternoon filled with creative projects, problem solving, music, art and expression.
“They were born with creativity,” said teacher Gerald Au. “We just have to create an environment for them to use it.”
Fourth-graders at Kau Yan, like most elementary school students, don’t hold back their curiosity when a visitor enters their classroom.
Shocked that I was about to eat a school lunch, one boy asked, “Do you like Chinese food?” Of course.
On the basketball court, after swishing a three-pointer, one girl wondered, “Are all Americans good at basketball?” No, unfortunately, just me… and LeBron is OK, too.
And one student offered a strange question for a little girl: “Do you work for PISA?” The Programme for International Student Assessment produces a worldwide test that measures students’ academic abilities, and then ranks countries. Hong Kong is among the world’s best. How did she know about PISA? Her mother works at the University of Hong Kong and assists with PISA assessments.