FOR students and staff at Mooroolbark College in Victoria, a close bond forged with its Chinese sister-school is helping to break down euro-centric boundaries and paving the way for Asian literacy in the classroom.
The schools’ relationship with Wujiang Senior Middle School in Shanghai is the culmination of three study tours, the first of which saw three teachers spend two weeks in China, where they discussed educational philosophies, teaching and learning ideas, and compared educational systems with their Chinese colleagues.
As the schools acting Asian literacy coordinator, Robyn Cooper has helped to build the sisterschool relationship from the ground up and says the Chinese educational system bears an unexpected likeness to our own. “There’s a lot more similarities than what we anticipated and I think it’s really easy to focus on the differences between the two countries, but there’s actually a lot of similarities,” she says.
“They have passionate teachers, who both want to encourage the students to get the best out of their education but want to improve and sort of learn from each other at the same time.”
As part of their trip, Cooper and 15 of her Mooroolbark colleagues learned about expanding Asian literacy and enhancing global communities in the Asia-pacific region.
For Cooper, this is a key aim of the school’s cultural initiative; to break down the unforeseen cultural barriers in order to gain an understanding of the way in which each of our Asian neighbours approach education.
And indeed our proximity to Asia only stresses the importance of her cause.
“If we look at the way that the workforce is changing in the next 10, 20 years, we’re going to end up with people working a 24 hour day though emails, phone calls … and a lot of that will be through partnerships with Asia,” she says.
In May this year, Mooroolbark College will send two staff and 12 students to Beijing and Shanghai before the students undertake classes at their sister-school.