Learning from the Field: Innovating China's Higher Education System

Learning from the Field: Innovating China's Higher Education System

Learning from the Field: Innovating China's Higher Education System

Learning from the Field: Innovating China's Higher Education System

Excerpt

March 19, 2006: Sunday morning in Ma Shan county, Guangxi
province. The students are preparing for their feedback presentation
to the local research team and the farmers. We are having a very
good field visit! Our Guangxi team represents a different kind of
'family' and has had different kinds of experiences as compared to
last year; but just as joyful and interesting.

On Friday morning we received one of the most extraordinary
welcomes we ever received from farmers, with singing and so much
joy… Students refrained from starting interviews with farmers right
away, but instead joined the singing. The local performance group
prepared a special song — an ode to the researchers, who come to
the village to work together with the farmers instead of lecturing to
them.

The students also learned how to use threshing sticks… to make
music together! Extraordinary! This was followed by lunch, followed
by the first interviews, in two smaller groups. At the end of the
afternoon, the local performance group danced, sang and presented
a theatre play (they sang the special song again). It was wonderful.

This fragment of an e-mail message provides a glimpse of the experience documented in this book. Sent to a colleague at the other end of China, accompanying another group of M.Sc. and Ph.D. students visiting a rural community in the northern province of Ningxia, it illustrates the spirit of the educational innovation process highlighted in the following pages. This process, initiated at two of China's main agricultural universities, is now spreading to several others, and even into neighbouring Mongolia.

To give the readers an even better sense of our enriching experiences and the impact they generated, we present the song composed by the farmers of Ma Shan county to welcome us, referred to above. The song, artfully translated by Yang Huang, conveys the kindness of the local farmers who received us (coming from far away with many questions) with open arms. The song also points to the farmers' acute awareness of . . .

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