EdUHK Promotes the Internationalisation of Field Experience
In a Japanese primary school classroom, a student teacher was making the most of his first experience teaching English to local students. To attract students’ attention and capture their learning interest, he made use of different visuals, engaging the students as far as practicable with verbal cues, body language and even song-and-dance performances.
Mr Raymond Li, a Bachelor of Education (BEd) major at The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK), was among those who experienced teaching in a cross-cultural setting in Japan last year, organised by the School Partnership and Field Experience Office (SPFEO).
According to Raymond, the Japanese students were well-mannered and had a high level of self-care in general. “Students are assigned 20 to 30 minutes each day to clean the school,” he said. “Divided into small groups, they ready their brooms, floor mops and water buckets, and devote themselves whole-heartedly to their cleaning duties before they are allowed to go out to play.” This kind of training helps build the Japanese students’ sense of responsibility and spirit of teamwork, which, he said, are an indispensable part of civic education.
BEd students at EdUHK also had the opportunity to visit other countries to learn about their local education systems and pedagogical models. Miss Choi Man-tan, a final-year student got the chance to visit Finland last year to learn more about “happy learning”. “Educators in Finland attach great importance to fostering students’ curiosity”, she recalled. “They encourage students to explore and experience as much as they can, so that they fall in love with learning”. She added that teachers in Finland don’t normally intervene in disputes among students, but instead let them find ways to solve interpersonal conflicts themselves.
Sponsored by the Office of the President, the SPFEO under the direct leadership of Vice President (Academic) and Provost and Associate Vice President (Student Learning), has organised learning tours since the 2017/18 academic year for Education majors with outstanding academic performance. It offers them opportunities to visit different parts of the world to understand and compare the similarities and differences between overseas and Hong Kong education systems, and to connect to schools and teacher education beyond Hong Kong.
In collaboration with overseas universities and partner institutions, the tours comprise school visits and classroom observations, and in some cases even practise teaching in a real classroom setting. Students who have been awarded a place on the tours can receive sponsorship of up to HK$10,000 from the University, and to date, 52 students have participated in the tours since the programme’s launch. Among the partner institutions are the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, in the US, Tokyo Gakugei University, in Japan, and the University of Helsinki, in Finland.
The University arranges block practice for almost a thousand BEd majors each year to local kindergartens, primary and secondary schools. By participating in FE induction activities, which cover a series of thematic seminars on professional development, the students are given an opportunity to learn about the roles and responsibilities of teachers in the local education scene.
Local education system aside, Professor John Lee Chi-kin, Vice President (Academic) and Provost, said he believed that teachers should also develop a broader international perspective, given the increasingly globalised world. He said, “We hope that students can go beyond Hong Kong classrooms to learn about education systems abroad, and develop a holistic understanding of global development in education”. Professor Lee added that the learning tours organised in the past two years have received positive feedback, and he expected there to be an expansion of the collaboration network to cover more countries and regions.