I’ve been back in the States for a week and mostly over the jetlag. So I’ve had some time to reflect on my adventure in China. First, my congratulations to Mark Johnson and Bryan Munson for a stimulating learning experience that mixed primary and secondary sources and included articles, poetry, podcasts, documentaries and videos in addition to visits to several historic sites. In studying the Long March, students were urged to examine China’s culture as well as its history and to try to make sense of today’s China within historical and cultural perspectives. One video in particular looked at Chinese civilization in a modern context: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/martin_jacques_understanding_the_rise_of_china.html.
This curriculum, along with discussions with Chinese university students and local individuals, helped our students work through the myths and state approved version of Mao and the Chinese Revolution (and all of its phases). Our students examined varying perspectives to understand the legacy of the man and his impact on China in all its complexities.
Second, congratulations to Concordia International School Shanghai for its commitment to analytical learning. In a country in which students learn through rote, Concordia’s curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, questioning, examining different viewpoints and drawing conclusions. This is in strong contrast to even the university students with whom we had open conversations. Several told me they thought history was a boring subject—not surprising since history there is generally taught with emphasis on details instead of discussion.
For me, in addition to the emersion in learning, the best part of the trip was interacting with the Concordia students and being part of their learning process. And, of course, there was time for a few NHD discussions about this year’s theme, Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History. 🙂
If anyone is interested in learning more about China’s fascinating history in the 20th Century, here are a few titles:
Chang, Jung. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China.
Sun, Shuyun. The Long March: the True History of Communist China’s Founding Myth.
And for a more recent look at the “New China”:
Hessler, Peter. River Town.