This summer, RCEF supported summer camps for rural teachers and children in Shanxi Province. The participating teachers came from rural schools in Shanxi, Sichuan, Anhui, Yunnan, and Gansu Provinces. The goal was to expose them to RCEF's educational philosophy and teaching methods, which the teachers found fresh and thought-provoking.
Before the summer camps, staff and veteran teachers introduced the teaching framework and supporting theories. They then led the group in hands-on practice, facilitating local children from the surrounding villages to engage in a service learning project. One group of children investigated the prevalence of cigarette smoking in their communities and then put on a performance for their family members (some of whom are smokers) that included skits and art displays that incorporated what they had learned about the health effects of smoking. Another group of children investigated the reading habits and needs of their classmates and made suggestions about how to improve their school library.
In the evaluation, teachers said that this kind of hands-on training which combined theory with practice was extremely valuable. Ms. Ma Zhongyi from Sichuan Province remarked, "I've never been at a training like this before. Usually there's just some expert talking about their own experience. Sometimes the person doesn't even understand education and has never really put into practice their "expertise." This training allowed us to participate in every aspect. I moved from being confused and skeptical in the beginning to developing my own understanding of--and opinions about--service learning. I want to attend more trainings like this where I can meet people who have the same passion and exchange experiences." Teacher Bi Yunmei from Yunnan Province wrote, "We didn't just learn some teaching strategies or techniques, we learned a completely new teaching philosophy. We learned how to look at society--to explore and analyze it and then use our own actions to display our strength. I need this kind of education, which involves a whole new way of thinking and dialogue about values."