Some time ago I wrote a post about exercising together in the morning. It was an initiative we were keen to develop at school and I spoke of a model I had heard about in China. Last week I was fortunate enough to witness this in action, and much more. I wasn’t disappointed, the sight of 3,600 children exercising together in the Beijing morning sun was impressive. This was our first experience of school life in the Chinese capital. The children immediately filled us with joy as they saw an opportunity to practice their English with us. They smiled, laughed and welcomed us with real delight to their school. The first thing we noticed was the strong traditional of respect observed by childen and adults. Each morning childen greet their peers and teachers at the doors, they bow and wish them a good day, the smiles on their faces, reciprocated by those they welcome in.
The morning exercise is a great way to start the day in a city with little space for such activity. The children arrive early to take advantage of the playing areas at the school, to play table tennis, basketball, to run around the running track and spend time with friends before registering and coming back onto the yard in classes. The impressive sight of thousands of children taking part in exercise routines is preceeded by announcements and messages from staff and pupils. The children take an active role in all aspects of life at school. They are chosen by classmates as class leaders in key areas, they are encouraged to share their thinking, their ideas and their learning. They stand to speak and chose those to speak after them, encouraging full participation. Each lesson is preceeded by a pupil presentation on an aspect of independent study. Each presentation supported, encouraged and applauded. The respect agenda is high, supported by Confucius philosophy that underpins the school’s values and beliefs.
Hawes Side, Robin Hood and Experimental School No.2 are embarking on a partnership which will see us all learning from each other, sharing our approaches, ideas and experiences. It will take a while to digest all the things we saw on this visit, but we are excited about the possiblities to learn from each other as our partnership progresses.