A Comparison of Student Management and Secondary School Organization in the Peoples' Republic of China, France, and America

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

School setting, scheduling, student organization and home room system among secondary schools in P.R. China, Japan, France and America are described. The impact of these variables on students' overall development is addressed. The author hopes that the cross country comparison will shed light on the exploration of better educational approaches for secondary students' intellectual and psychological development.

The increased concern for school safety and the provision of a quality education for the new millennium have magnified the discussion of turning each school into a learning community, a place where students like to be. The need to improve school climate and culture has become a consensus among educators today (Hansen & Childs, 1998; Saraon, 1996; & Sergiovanni & Starratt, 1993) even though the ecological perspective of schooling has been addressed since the 1960s. According to Laten & Katz (1975), ecology refers to interaction between people and their entire environment. This concept is broadly compatible with that of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget who viewed a person's intelligence as an adaptation to a physical existence (1977). The ecological axiom is that social environments vary in ways that affect their inhabitants (Kelly, 1971 In return, the inhabitants help to build either a healthier or more undermining environment. As a result, research on ecosystems has been conducted to investigate the characteristics of a school's environment so as to promote innovative modifications of secondary school operation and management.

Variability in the structure of each educational system, however, has created a unique ecology within schools of different countries and a hidden curriculum has developed within each ecology. Students' behavioral, mental and emotional growth is fostered in such an educational environment in addition to family and societal influences upon the young people. A school's micro-management system, including daily class schedules, and formation of a class as well as physical layout of school buildings inter-relatedly affect students' behavior. Compared with other educational establishments, secondary schools of each system operate differently in several aspects of a school's micro-management.

The purpose of this study is to address the relationship between three variables, school physical settings, student management, and governance in structuring the secondary school environment, in the countries of The Peoples' Republic of China, Japan and France. The effect of these variables upon the reconstruction of school ecology will be discussed. The strengths and limits of each system will shed light on assessing the effect of secondary schools' governance on students' intellectual and psychological development.

DEFINITIONS

School physical setting in this study refers to structure of a school's buildings and/or physical layout of classrooms and offices as well as the campus. Student management and governance refers to school schedules, home room organization and the interaction among students within the learning environment.

METHODS

This study combined interviews and field-based experiences. Interviews were conducted among three native French residents, including one who just finished one year teaching in a French middle school, two native Chinese residents, and five native Japanese residents who received elementary and secondary education in their motherlands, plus, my professional experiences in China's secondary schools.

The interview was structured with two components: 1) questions designed by the researchers and several open-ended questions. The questions included description of secondary school physical layout and organization, behavioral management system, and nature of student-teacher relationships in each system. The open-ended questions covered strengths and limits of each system and comparison of each system with American secondary schools. …