Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Wednesday, 22 October 2008 00:00

The "Blackboard Revolution"

Sixteen years ago, Chang Shu-mei came to teach at Wu Lai Middle School. She already had 13 years of teaching experience before that. She had high expectations when she first came in the mountains, but after a year, she began to doubt of herself. The educational method which evaluated grades by written examination just put a bored grin on aborigine children’s faces. As the teachers had to finish the programs in a certain time, she had no choice but to “accelerate” the speed of teaching. But the children could no longer understand anything at all. This situation got worse and worse. So Shu-mei thought: “Have I done something wrong? Where did I go wrong?” The confidence built by long experience of teaching had disappeared in a minute.

At that time, she met Professor Guo Jing-zi, who had just come out of the research lab of the special education department. After she consulted Professor Guo, she knew how to change the teaching method. Her “Blackboard Revolution” started. Shu-mei had changed her way of teaching and designed various teaching materials made to meet aborigine children’s needs.
The atmosphere in the classroom has changed; children have started to get more concentrated. During math class, which was the toughest before, the math formulae are not “spoken” anymore from the teacher’s mouth, instead they “grew” from a big tree on the blackboard. And all the other courses, including Chinese and English, are also taught in a different way.

Wu Lai is the only aboriginal town in Taipei County; National Wu Lai Elementary and Middle School is located on the intersection of Nan Shi brook and A Yu brook. Tayal Children (coming from the five main villages in the town— Zhong Zhi, Wu Lai, Xiao Yi, Xin Xian, and Fu Shan Village.) represent 80 percent of the students. In order to make them understand their own culture, to recognize the importance of their cultural inheritance and to participate in the development of Tayal tribes in Wu Lai, Shu-mei has also asked the adults to teach their skills of knitting. She encourages the students to participate in traditional rituals and ceremonies, and has asked the elderly to take part in native language education. She also takes her students to visit bamboo forest, to explore the sources of hot spring water, to visit the workshops of knitting, forest management spots, and hot spring hotels in Wu Lai …

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