We asked a pupil in China to share her home learning experience. Below is her article, originally written in Chinese language, translated by Juniper Educations China Educational Links Team.

I breathed a sigh of relief after the end of term exams. I was ready to enjoy a happy vacation and make good use of my time during the holidays. Unexpectedly, came the novel coronavirus. Although we had been warned about this by the media to take protective measures, I did not expect the virus to be so horrible and spread so fiercely.

Adapting To Online Study

The virus raged like a demon and refused to leave for a long time. As a result, we experienced an extended vacation longer than I ever expected. Like everyone all over China, we adapted to online study at home amid school closure.

Our Rich And Varied Curriculum

I am in the 8th Grade at Wuxi Donglin High School. My school’s online courses were designed and created by the Teacher Development Centre in our local Liangxi district, taught by outstanding local teachers. The curriculum was rich and varied covering every subject in each grade. The learning requirements for core subjects like Chinese, Mathematics and English during homeschool days were as strict as in usual school days. Lesson outlines were released one day in advance for preview and preparation, and we followed a special timetable for virtual school. After class, we were required not only to complete the exercises in the textbooks, but also to do a ‘supplementary assignment’ every day.

Our Extended Curriculum And Learning Local Culture

There was not so much homework from the online lessons of subjects such as History, Geography and Art. We were however supplemented by the learning of local culture. We learnt stories about Su Dongpo’s life in Wuxi (a famous Song Dynasty historical figure), Lu Yu the Tea Master and the famous spring in Wuxi (a popular site in Wuxi recommended by the Tang Dynasty historical figure in his book ‘The Classic of Tea’). PE and Health lessons were also an important part of virtual school. We maintained the routine of ‘eye massage exercises’ during breaks. The school also recommended that we watched news broadcasts and some educational TV programmes related to our curriculum.

How Online Learning Tested Me

From a student’s perspective, online learning tested my self-control, self-motivation and perseverance. For the first few days, I was almost dragged out of my cosy bed by my parents and rushed into the study. During class, I could not help peeking at my mobile phone for other contents or chatting with my classmates.

My Change In Perspective

I later realised however that my peers were not idle. Many of them were working hard and getting praises from the teachers. So, I made a new plan to make more conscious efforts in my study and complete tasks on time. Gradually, my attainments went up in the unit tests.

Fond Memories I Created With My Dad

What I enjoyed the most was doing maths work with my dad, which left fond memories that warms my heart. I could have asked the teacher for help with questions after class, they would have provided a short video explaining the problem if I made mistakes. But I was feeling shy and afraid of ‘embarrassing’ myself, so I turned to my Dad for help. My dad is super knowledgeable and knows everything from algebra, geometry, astronomy to physics. However, every time before he helped me with a question he would go down memory lane, over forty years ago, telling stories of his student days. He would analyse the question in detail, sometimes too much. Perhaps he did this to deliberately lower his thinking to my level of understanding, which was a real challenge for him.

The Role That Parents Played

Parents had to play the role of ‘teaching assistants’ during virtual school. They had to supervise their children to attend online lessons, take photos of completed work and upload them in the time periods set by different subjects.

How Teachers Delivered And Supported Our Virtual Lessons

During this special period, we took virtual lessons delivered by many outstanding teachers from top schools in our local region. Our own school teachers were in charge of marking our work. We had to resubmit one or more times after correction until each task passed the scrutiny. The teachers also provided micro lessons specifically targeting key knowledge points or common questions. During this unprecedented period, students and parents both worked hard, and teachers worked even harder.

Easing Back Into School

Eventually, the situation eased in my province, Jiangsu. Under the premise of strict preventive and protective measures, final-year junior high and senior high students were the first groups to return to school. The phased return of the other year groups then followed. In the first two weeks back in school, we had unit tests for key subjects to identify learning gaps and not let any student fall behind. The school then organised targeted revision sessions, individual tutoring for particular students, to consolidate and deepen our learning from online courses.

My Overall Experience During The Pandemic

I had a very special and unique learning experience. I did not drop my study amid the cruelty of the pandemic and the absence of my teachers. Instead, I used the time to read more masterpiece books. Online study expanded my knowledge and vision and increased my ability of active learning.

The horrible pandemic does not scare us. Hope rises like a phoenix from the ashes. It makes me cherish more about life and health, the access to learning opportunities, and the friendship with my classmates. I also feel proud of my country’s efforts in fighting the pandemic and striving for a safer environment.

– Written by Ivy Huang, Grade 8 Student.

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Zhong Wang

Zhong Wang

Zhong has worked in education for over 15 years in schools and local governments as a languages teacher and an education adviser. Before joining Juniper Education, she managed the Chinese studies centre and China educational partnerships for Essex County Council for 10 years. She has extensive experience in developing and managing international links and joint programmes between the UK and China. Zhong has teaching qualifications from both China and the UK, and a master’s degree with distinction in Comparative Education from IOE London.

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