Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Study trip: Serious business in Shenzhen

Morning call was at 7:00a.m. Brekkie was nothing to shout about. Well, I was comparing it to those I had in Taiwan and without salad and coffee, I would not even bother considering it breakfast. While waiting for our van at the entrance of the hotel, I quickly took a shot with our local guide:

On this day, we were to visit a well-known kindergarten in Shenzhen. Although the kindie was expecting us at 9:00a.m., we arrived earlier. The kindie we visited is part of a big group of kindies (similar to franchises here) called Jingjing Education Foundation. They have 20 branches in Shenzhen and its surrounding areas. They ferried us to another branch in a different suburb before they took us on a grounds tour of the main Shenzhen branch. I found the principal of this branch helpful and appreciated her willingness to share:

Like any other typical kindie in China, they have the facilities and not to mention ample space, both indoors and outdoors. It certainly helps to have a government that channels funds into the proper development of early childhood education, one that takes education at that level seriously.

Jingjing's main selling point is their special class of arts. When they say arts, it more or less means a separate class of children who go through intensive dance training (an hour each in the morning and afternoon). They get invited to perform at public events, as well as for CCTV. The children are able to execute stunts such as fold their bodies in half, bend over in a full arch etc. Although they also have specific Montessori classes, their main framework is based on the thematic and High/Scope methods.

Personal observation: I wonder if it creates a gap between the classes of children. I mean, they have say, three classes of 6-year-old children. One class is a normal class, one is a Montessori class and the other is the Arts class. I wonder if there is a comparison between the children, if not the teachers. Would they not wonder why they do not get to participate in the extra dance classes? Would they not wonder why they do not get to use the attractive shape sorting apparatus? After the discussion session with the company's director, it became clearer that it is about business expansion. They were talking about buying another kindergarten in another suburb to convert into their own. I guess it boils down to your own philosophies and motives, ey?

I made another observation during lunch: they like to serve celery and also use plenty of salt in their cooking. We made a short stop at a jade factory before proceeding to the Shenzhen Book City. It actually is a shopping complex that sells only books and reference material in audio-visual form. So, you'd get things like the electronic dictionary. I bought RMB607 worth of CD/VCD/DVDs and RMB344 worth of books. Too bad they did not accept credit cards issued by non-local banks. Otherwise, I'd earn more points and would have more cash.

After dinner, Miss Sik, Miss Cheong, Miss Liew and myself ventured on our own to Dongmen.

It felt like the Chinese version of the Taiwanese Ximenting. Inside Sun Complex, I found a sweet English-style dress that was going for half price. Too bad they didn't have my size.

It was pouring by the time we headed back outdoors. Good thing Miss Sik brought shoe protectors (the water that flowed out of the drainage systems was black in colour!). That night, I went to bed with the dress in mind...

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