W105 | Chinese Education in the 21st Century |
Thomas Merchant

Wednesdays -
9:30 - 11:00 a.m. | Four Sessions -
7/24, 7/31, 8/7, 8/14
Hybrid - Zoom and in-person at Berkshire Community College

This course will explore the multifaceted landscape of education in China, delving into pedagogical style, societal goals, and evolving educational paradigms. We will discuss prevalent instructional styles in Chinese education, historically characterized by discipline, rote learning, and a focus on exam-oriented teaching methodologies.

As China aims for expanded education on individual, familial, and state levels, we will examine the overarching goals driving these changes - fostering a skilled workforce, promoting social mobility, and enhancing global competitiveness.

Over the last generation, there has been a transformative shift in education. We will scrutinize the increased access to secondary and post-secondary education, disparities between rural and urban schools, and the prevalence of boarding schools, especially for rural students. Furthermore, we will discuss China's approach to curriculum design, national testing systems, and entrance into universities within China.

The course will consider increased enrollment in international and "internationalized bilingual" schools within China as well as the significance of overseas educational opportunities for Chinese students. What is the rationale behind seeking education abroad and its implications for students' academic, personal, and career development?

What is the impact of Chinese student enrollment in US boarding schools, many of which are in the Berkshires region, including the dynamics and impact of cross-cultural exchange and educational integration.

Lastly, we will explore access to information, including the procurement of reference letters and transcripts, especially for post-secondary students navigating higher education pathways. Through critical analysis and comparative study, this course will provide comprehensive insights into the complexities of education in contemporary China.

Tom Merchant describes himself as a dedicated educator with a passion for sharing and learning. His education career began in Pittsfield in 1990, and he has taught mathematics in Houston, Charlotte, and China. Tom’s China experience includes chaperoning student trips to China, being an exchange teacher with a sister school in Nanjing, and finally relocating permanently in 2012. He has immersed himself in Chinese culture while teaching in both Hangzhou and Shanghai, working to foster cross-cultural understanding and academic excellence. Originally from Amarillo, Texas, Tom holds degrees from the Defense Language Institute, the University of Washington, and the University of Houston. Sharing is unquestionably one of his greatest passions, and it is his daily goal to be a catalyst for improving society's multicultural competence.

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