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When university meets high school

With the popularization of higher education, universities have to not only pay attention to the candidate quality, but attach importance to the process and quality of education. How the university education bridge with the high school education has been the new focus under such trend. The Journalist from the China Educational Newspaper interviewed Jian Wang, Professor of Geography from NNU School of Geography Science, about his educational ideas.

Journalist: Some people compared the relationship between high school education and uniersity education as two inter-circumscribed circles and university entrance examination is the intersection point. What is the method of settling the bonding problem in your opinion?

Jian Wang: With the popularization of higher education, it is inevitable for exam-oriented education to transform to quality-oriented education. There used to be little time for middle schools to organize lectures for the student due to their tight schedule. However, with more focus put on the academic world, high school teachers are expected to have updated knowledge concerning the discipline, which creates the basic and necessary conditions for the collaborative courses setting between the university and the high school. It further indicates the great burden of the normal universities in the process of integration. Normal universities should pay attention to the all-round development of high school teachers, the proper construction of the textbook and the appropriate reform of the school course during the educational transformation process.

Professor Jian Wang has built several platforms for cooperation and communication in NNU such as Textbook Research and Development Center, Teaching Demonstration Center, Base for Teaching Practice, Base for Teacher Training, Teaching Forum and Geographical Ladder, which have all helped to forge a common service mechanism for collaborative interaction. For example, the Geographical Textbook Research and Development Center invited some excellent and super high school teachers as its special researchers to participate in the process of school course setting and textbook compiling. 

Journalist: So, how can we establish a long-term cooperative mechanism between universities and high schools?

Jian Wang: As far as I am concerned, the most effective way is to make innovations together through their joint efforts. The collaborative innovation can overcome the problems of the misconncetion between the two bodies. We have spent fourteen years exploring the road: from year 2000 to year 2003, the exploration of the collaborative teaching research and teaching pattern; from year 2004 to year 2008, the overall establishment of the collaborative innovation; from year 2009 to year 2013, the examination and improvement of the teaching practice and demonstration. 

Journalist: Then, how do you build the collaborative innovation mechanism?

Jian Wang: In the normal educational circle, college teachers pay attention to the academic international frontier and high school teachers stand on the point of actual practice. The traditional practice of one college teacher to one high school teacher or one university to one high school is the point-to-point model. However, aided by the teaching research center, the updated research findings and new teaching concepts can be conveyed to more teachers and cover a wider benefit scale reaching to the whole province if possible. The center is regarded as the key point in bridging the two bodies.

Journalist: In terms of the textbook demands, how can we pass the advanced ideas from universities on to the high school teachers?

Jian Wang: The problem currently lies in the inactivation of high school teachers towards the textbook compilation and basic education. Therefore, it is urgent to politically and mechanically encourage the universities and high schools to apply for an educational project covering the matter of course setting focusing on the subject engagement of the transition from high school to university and the social requirements. It is out of such concern that NNU has brought about the idea of collaborative teaching researching through high school and university’s joint efforts.

Journalist: So, how can we break the wall between high school education and college education?

Jian Wang: It requires universities to actively participate in the high school course design and passes the scientific teaching concepts to the high school during the process. When it comes to the professional teaching of the geography course, NNU has successfully introduced a large number of high school teachers to do the direct classroom teaching. That is to say, NNU has practiced the interactive model for talent cultivation through this kind of communication between the academic nature and the normal nature, theory and practice, pre-professional and post-professional.  

It improves the professional quality of the normal student majoring in geographical teaching by breaking the wall between college education and high school education. “Many employers told the journalist that the adapting period has shortened by comparatively one to two years for the normal graduates.”  Said Yuan Zhao, the team member and NNU professor. Besides, the professor told the journalist that except for other traits, normal students learned a lot through the active classroom teaching offered by the high school teachers.

Collaborative interaction mechanism has made a fruit achievement testified by the cited quantity of 200 times of the already published research paper of the team led by NNU professor Jian Wang and 30 team articles reprinted by the Renmin University of China’s Reprinted Copy Newspapers and Periodicals. Standard and Textbook Research on High School Geographical Course has been entitled as the Jiangsu Excellent Course Resource. Natural Geography and Human Environment has been entitled as the Excellent Open Course and been viewed over 200,000 times online. Jiuquan Yang, the chief editor of Journal of Educational Science of East China Normal University, once said that it was the great breakthrough in overcoming the misconncetion between high school education and normal university education and it also set the excellent model on “process teaching” for geographical high school teachers to learn from.

Interview was edited for length and clarity.