Jan 22, 2018

Being Introduced to Oral History

Introducing oral history @ Lijiashan School
Introducing oral history @ Lijiashan School

The theme of Footsteps Project In September and October 2017 was to recruit new students and introduce them to oral history - mainly to stimulate students' interest. After all, having a drive in doing is most important. Students were exposed to selected non-fiction works and documentaries. They sighed over the individual’s fate in the grand history, and were fascinated by indigenous culinary, farming, and Quyi culture in China. They “met” critical thinking in a film “12 Citizens” (with its plot based on “Twelve Angry Men”), and together with reading about oral historians’ views, gained an understanding on the nature and values of oral history. Students wrote down their thoughts provoked by the reading in the “Reading Journal”. Furthermore, each student selected one piece which impressed him/her the most, and analyzed it in “Historical Thinking Journal”.

The most important thing that Gaitian from Maying High School learned from the film “12 Citizens” is that everyone has their own perspective on things, related to their different social backgrounds. Through this example, Gaitian now understood better what the theory of oral history said, that oral narrative will be affected by the narrator’s social identity, and it shows more the significance of an event to the narrator, than the event itself. It reminded her to focus more on finding the meaning of experience to the interviewee in her future interviews. Her classmate Yanzi realized the fragility of personal fate in the historical tides through stories of nobodies told in the TED-like speech "This Story is Pure Nonfiction". Meanwhile, she was moved by a documentary of Fengting Zhou, a college student, which recorded her grandmother from a small town reflecting on her struggles to earn a living all through her life, and finally finding rest for her soul. This reading experience inspired her to capture personal struggles and desires in her future interviews to reveal the power of humanity. Lina and Ting from Tongwei No. 1 High School respectively analyzed the life story of a barefoot doctor grandmother, and a family story of 12 years of exile starting from 1937, to learn about what factors contributed to the experience/fate of the interviewees, and any counteraction individuals had on history. They also put themselves in the interviewees’ shoes, analyzed the considerations of the interviewees upon major choices of life. This not only provided a framework for them to structure their interview data, but also helped them gain life lessons from others’ life stories.

Based on these readings, teachers not only explained what the oral history was, but also hosted a discussion session in which students shared their reading experience and thoughts, and further discussed the reading materials. With this introduction, students started to depict what their oral history interviews would look like, and the depth that the interview data may possibly reach. This greatly helped in steering their way.

Introducing oral history @ Maying High School
Introducing oral history @ Maying High School

Attachments:
Jan 22, 2018

To Interview as An Oral Historian

Practice Interview @Xinhua Middle School
Practice Interview @Xinhua Middle School

The theme of Footsteps Project In November and December 2017 was "interview training". Firstly, teachers explained the interview attitude, flow and basic skills, guided students in practicing forming interview outline and analyzing example interviews. Next, demo interviews were done between teachers or a teacher and a student, which were then discussed and evaluated by the students. Finally, each student pair practiced interviews with real topic, and reflected on the interviews.

While evaluating Teacher Xu’s interview with Teacher Tian with the topic "How your parents influenced you", Zengqiang from Tongwei No. 1 High School pointed out that overall the questions allowed the interviewee to recollect and narrate smoothly, also the last question well connected the past and the future plan. However there was room to improve—— the questions were not detailed enough, and one question appeared to be repeated. The Footsteps project helped the class become a learning community.

In a practice interview with the topic "Most impressive teacher", Jie from Danfeng High School shared the memories of her 7th grade teacher who had deeply influenced her, and the story between her class and the teacher. In the short eight minutes of her narration, she provided a lot of details regarding how this teacher affected her, with words simple but rich in emotion. Fan, the interviewer, did also very well. Once she found that the interviewee had a lot to tell, she followed the interviewee’s narration, slightly prompting her now and then to continue to go deep. Through this interview, students learned that it was important to let the interviewee share what s/he wanted to talk the most, also to create an easy chatting atmosphere, so that the interviewee can enter and remain a reminiscent mode.

In January 2018, after students gained basic understanding on oral history and experience in interview, their focus now is to find the interviewees and identify the interview topics, either folk arts/crafts, folk customs or livelihood, for the upcoming interviews and background research during winter break. Teachers, together with EEF Staff, provide guidance and assistance in background research for the students. Once the actual interview begins, students will make connection with the interviewees in ways they have never experienced before——hopefully this connection will be a hidden and genuine drive for students to move forward. Meanwhile, we hope that the Footsteps interviews will bring more understanding, kinship and warmth between generations to the Spring Festival in the atmosphere of reunion, so that the rural families where migrant workers are common can feel the significance of students doing oral history.

Demo: Teacher Tian Interview Teacher Xu
Demo: Teacher Tian Interview Teacher Xu

Attachments:
Oct 27, 2017

Closing a chapter and a plan afoot - stay tuned

Making together
Making together

Dear Friends,

With your support, the financial goal funding Teachers' training has just been met, though the trainings have gone way beyond the initial one where educators learned a tremendous amount of knowledge from the International Conference with the theme of "MakerSpace - Creativity in Libraries".  With that, it is time to close a chapter.  Yes, a plan has been at work to help the teachers in rural China to be more successful in making future for their communities.was given by our Dr Winnie Wong with experts from industries.

With the first funding completed, this first chapter will be closed.  A new chapter will be fully opened as soon as the planning is done.  You may be aware that part of the chapter has started a couple of months ago.   That is about training teachers in doing Oral History to a certain level of academic standard.  The other part of the chapter will be about guiding teachers to build up Maker Portfolio. And, when the students learned to build their Maker Portfolio, they would have a chance to get into top universities as many universities are placing emphasis on that as much as high academic score.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the supporters with your financial giving, network resources or volunteering, partners, program staff and the Board in the successful closing of a chapter! 

Do stay tuned for more impactful programs to come.

 

Warmest regards,

john

Designing together
Designing together
Basics of Design Thinking
Basics of Design Thinking
 
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