Voice from Shanghai expert at 2017 China Education Symposium in the Harvard University

Telling good stories of three protagonists - teachers, parents and young children


The last two days in April, all seats were occupied with bursts of applause at Longfellow hall of the Harvard University campus on the Charles River in Boston, United States, where 2017 Harvard China Education Symposium was held. A group of professionals in education gathered to seek common ground while reserving differences, and explored the future of China's education based on diversified educational practice in china.
China Education Symposium (CES) at Harvard University was founded in 2010, and the theme of this symposium was "Opportunities and innovation, diversified Chinese education practice". Chinese excellent education practitioners here responded to the existing problems and shared their experience with attendees. Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation director, free normal students practice tutor of East China Normal University, associate professor Ms. Chen Lei was invited to the symposium and delivered a keynote speech "From early childhood education to early childhood guidance", sharing with attendees a lecture on curriculum for young children education and parenting.
Ms. Chen Lei went to West Montessori Institute in Canada for further studies in 1990s and won an excellent student award. He served as director of the China Welfare Institute Nursery for 14 years, making it a well-known preschool dedicated to integrating education and bringing - up in whole process. She has visited the United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Israel, Japan, Hongkong and Taiwan for a short period of exchange and visit and accumulated a wealth of infant teaching experience. At the symposium, she shared with participants her 20 years of actual experience, as well as her cognition of early childhood education, and pointed out the problems existed in China's early childhood education curriculum.
In Chen Lei's view, the current early childhood education courses directed singly to young children, lacked of parental guidance; The curriculum mode is polarized, either a paradise type developmental mode (purely playing), or class type developmental mode (learning workshops, children become bundled objects). In this regard, Chen Lei advocated simultaneously developmental curriculum of young children rearing and parenting education, and actively carry out the construction of parents’ involvement in cooperation consultation style of early childhood education programs. Because each individual is not the same, most understanding young children are their mom and dad who can apply the knowledge given by teachers to their children. In addition, she also pointed out that in the early childhood education institution, teachers are not the only protagonist: the teacher prepares the education environment and is ready to observe and support the parent-child interaction; parents are the prontagonists to carry out parent-child interaction; and  young children are the main characters to explore, act and develop.
Chen Lei shared with attendees her designed early childhood education programs: a life course integrating feeding into education. For example, It’s always difficult for parents to feed their children. Chen Lei designed a colorful rice and vegetable roll with rich nutrition. She turned passively feeding into children’s active eating while children developed their language skill in the process of eating food. Guide and develop game curriculums in accordance with children’s maturity. Game curriculum promotes parent-child interaction and situational activities promote easily parent’s involvement; The richness of materials triggers a variety of experience of infants and young children. She told the audience, the materials easy to obtain had functions to diversify, did not underestimate egg holders, shaving foam and other small objects around. An extended curriculum to support formative education at home. Encourage children to imitate learning in the changing situations; upgrade thinking in reading; understand the changes in activities; try to have joint efforts in cooperation and develop the extended courses at home. Therefore, Chen Lei believes that the evaluation system is not conducted in school, but at home. If a child still keeps the abilities and characters developed by preschool's formative education at his home, the education is successful. Such a set of teaching system promotes a new type of educational practice of the interaction among the three parties, bilateral consultation and common growth.
According to the survey information from early childhood education environment in China, and with the arrival of the birth peak under the two - child policy in China, early education in China will become an urgent social demand. In Chen Lei's view, in the contemporary China, there is tough work ahead and a long way to go in solving the traditional education problems. The waves of science and technology and the globalization have put forward a new challenge to the traditional Chinese education mode, and educators must have exploration spirit to find a more suitable way for China's education.