Tue, Feb 27, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Experimental shift brings school back from brink of closure

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Tainan’s Hushan Experimental Elementary School said that the introduction of experimental education has succeeded in helping the school attract more students over the past seven years, averting its imminent closure.

The school for the children of Taiwan Sugar Co employees in the area saw its student numbers dwindle to the single digits across all grades as a result of a population decline, as the sugar industry has scaled back.

The school’s remoteness is both a blessing and a curse, dean Lin Yung-cheng (林勇成) said.

Lin sought to shift the school’s focus from an institution that encourages pedantic teaching to one that encourages children to explore the world around them by overhauling classes to focus on energy, water, climate change, recyclable resources and biodiversity in line with the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development’s Eco-Schools program, the school said.

The school in 2015 adopted experimental education and shifted to a quarter system, it said.

Every 10 weeks of class is followed by two to three weeks of vacation, which not only offers ample time to relax, but also allows more flexibility for students to explore their environment or hold exhibitions, it said.

The changes have not only brought the school back from the brink of closing, but have also made it the only school in Tainan that has increased its number of classes for three consecutive years, it added.

The school has also won awards from the Ministry of Education for excellent education and the Executive Yuan for sustainable development, it said.

Former Yue Ming Elementary School dean Huang Chien-jung (黃建榮) aided the school in transitioning from a public school into a privately managed public school in 2016, the school said.

Exam-based education causes students to lack motivation, while Yue Ming’s experimental method encourages teachers to guide children to think about why they wish to learn, he said.

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