This summer, with the enthusiasm for children’s education in rural areas, DENER Children Foundation hosted a more than ten-day “More Reading, More Happiness” project in Ganzi, Sichuan. Different from the reading plan in Qinghai last year, this year’s “More Reading, More Happiness” project focused on training the “Seed Volunteer Teachers” that would inspire children using multiple educational methods. Thanks to teacher Wu Yongyi for giving our volunteers the teaching seminars in May and June of this year. Teacher Wu Yongyi is currently teaching in Yu-Ying elementary school in Puli. She has been dedicated to promoting children’s reading and learning education. She was the winner of the National Super Teacher Award in 2004. Teacher Wu also helped Yu-Ying elementary school won the first reading digital “SMART School smart classroom” provided by Samsung Electronics. In addition, she has participated in many teacher experience-sharing workshops.
Teacher Wu is an emotional and intelligent teacher. In our “Volunteer Training Seminar”, she constantly emphasized that “as a teacher, students should first be reassured and stable before teaching”. The teacher’s responsibility should be to give students various experiences, not just to infuse knowledge. Teacher Wu said, “a teacher should allow children to think and make children understand that not all pursuits will have an answer, then students will be brave enough to explore. What we have to do is, guide children to combine lessons with life experiences. Once they have a feeling about the lessons, book will no longer be just a book. Reading will gradually become a part of children’s lives”.
In the “Volunteer Training Seminar”, what impressed our volunteers the most was an example that teacher Wu shared: In the morning after a heavy rain wash, teacher Wu found a dry, lifeless snake on the road. For a creature that everyone is frightened about when facing it alive, the teacher made a different attempt for her students. Teacher Wu first used rich and vivid sounds and expressions to let children guess, who the mysterious guest was today. The students took their seats and thought about this mysterious guest. There were magic in Teacher Wu’s class, through interactions to stimulate children’s curiosity. When the children had a direction for the answer, the teacher tells the student that the guest may be a bit scary for some people, but assures everyone that the guest will definitely not hurt you. This move allows the student to feel safe in the teaching environment.
With the answers revealed, the kids made different voices as a small snake show up; someone very glad that his guess was correct, and some with a bit frightened expression, some were excitedly and wanted to explore. After a while, teacher Wu encouraged students to carefully observe the snake again and again, and disassemble along its every texture. Teacher asked the students to think about: “What is the reason for your fear? Are you afraid of its head? Or is it the eyes? Or tongue?” Yet, the teacher does not push the students who have not overcome their fears. Gradually some brave children found that if we can dismantle fear, then they will be able to clarify the situation. The fear they originally thought did not really exist. These responses also lead students who had originally fail to overcome their fears to come forward. Slowly, almost all the students in the class could face the snake. Unexpectedly, a student asked to touch the snake. Teacher Wu happily agreed and taught the students to be grateful and respectful before touching the snake. We should look at the snake as a “snake teacher” who gave us this lesson.
In the face of a little snake, teacher Wu has turned it into the most important teacher in children’s learning life. This is what the teacher said about learning from the “experience and essence” of life. In order to keep this precious memory at the beginning, teacher Wu asked the students to make their own “story books”. In a team of two or three, the students divided the content of the story, draw their most touching pictures, and work together to complete this memory that belongs to everyone.
Through the teacher’s sharing, the volunteers who were going to teach in the remote villages have a deeper understanding of the education. Most of us knew that education should start from a young age. But what we often overlook is that education is not only to infuse knowledge in the books, but also to incorporate virtues of life by example and inspire children to become a person who knows and appreciates the preciousness of life. Compared with other remote mountain areas, education in Taiwan has its richness and diversity. After these teaching seminars, the “Seed Teacher” volunteer team formed by the DENER Children Foundation were eager to prepare the courses. With the “Teaching Mindset” teacher Wu shared with us, we hope to share different reading methods with children from remote villages and inspire them to like reading and learning.