Chinese visitors explored Batesville Oct. 31. But what’s it like in that country? Dr. Jim Roberts, Batesville Community School Corp. superintendent, found out during a whirlwind Oct. 9-19 trip.
The Indiana Department of Education-planned mission was led by Glenda Ritz, state superintendent of public instruction, who was accompanied by Roberts, two Greensburg superintendents and five others from Madison, Richmond, Kendallville, Gary and Crawfordsville.
Admitting “I’m not a world traveler,” the superintendent called his journey “a grand experience” during a Nov. 6 interview with The Herald-Tribune.
China by the numbers was daunting for Roberts, according to a Nov. 3 e-mail to BCSC staff. Six airplanes. In and out of nine airports. Rides in 22 buses, six vans and one taxi. Visits to six schools (two high schools, one vocational school, one middle school and two elementary schools). Eight cities, including Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing. Eight somewhat boisterous banquets. One PowerPoint presentation by Roberts about public school finances.
The trip’s intent was to “learn about an education system that we hear a lot about and are compared to regularly.” He also participated in the agreement to create a sister school relationship between IDOE and the Education Bureau of the Zhejiang, China, province. Roberts was able to identify potential sister schools for BCSC in order to add Mandarin Chinese to foreign language offerings and create exchange opportunities for teachers and students.
The educator observed many differences between schools here and there. Less hours are mandated for learning in the U.S., typically around seven. The Chinese school day is eight to 10 hours. “Students then spend many more hours studying. Some students continue with their studies in a teacher-centered structured environment for three or more evenings per week and on Saturdays and Sundays.”
American class sizes range from 20-30, much more manageable than China’s 40-70. He reports, “Students are expected to be very obedient and must adhere to more strict rules and regulations.”