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Area educators return from China trip

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— Eighteen Capital District educators returned on Monday, Nov. 14, from a 10-day trip to China where they talked to students and toured schools.

Representatives from Tech Valley High School (TVHS), Capital Region BOCES, Questar III Boces, Schalmont, Schoarie, Catskill and Cobleskill-Richmondville schools made up the delegation that flew to the Far East in search of “partnerships that will broaden the horizons of area students,” according to information from TVHS.

Schalmont School Board President Sandra Beloncik said though the trip’s purpose was to share information and gain insight into China’s educational practices. She felt U.S. educators shared valuable insight with their Chinese counterparts, too.

“I think we have great practices. We’re really going into the 21st century ahead of them and I think our trip was more to help them in learning about some of the things that we do,” said Beloncik.

Among those American educational values shared was hands-on and collaborative learning and teaching.

“We showed them hands-on rather than just teachers standing at the head of the class,” said Beloncik. “Integrate subjects. … So if you’re going to have a science project have math and history in it.”

There was much about the Chinese education system that was surprising, enlightening and very different from things back home, said Beloncik.

For example, at the TVHS sister school Tianjin High School No.41, a large chunk of the student population live in dormitories.

“Probably 80 if not 90 percent of high school students live in dormitories on campus because they want their children at their desks at 7 a.m.,” said Beloncik, adding that even one middle school had dorms for students.

Living away from home before college wasn’t the only extreme difference. The length of the school day was also a lot longer.

“Usually the basic time is 7 a.m. to noon and then they come back 2:30 to 5 or 6 p.m. Then they have dinner and work another two hours on homework,” said Beloncik. “Something like that really impresses you.”

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