Three instructors from the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities spoke at the “Zhejiang-Indiana Regular Senior High School Education Reform Forum” in Jiaxing, located in the Chinese province of Zhejiang on October 23. Zhejiang is a sister province to the state of Indiana.
Drs. Jeff Smith and Min Zhang, and Mr. Mark Watson were invited to the forum following a visit to the Academy by
Chinese school officials in May, 2012 to observe classes and speak with administrators.
According to Dr. David Williams, Executive Co-director of the Indiana Academy, “many members of the Chinese delegation were excited about some unique courses and innovative teaching when they visited the Academy in May. They were especially impressed by Mr. Watson’s oral history course and Dr. Smith’s knowledge of the new science standards being developed by the College Board for Advanced Placement classes.” Both Mr. Watson and Dr. Smith presented on the goals and development of their courses. Dr. Zhang, the Chinese instructor at the Indiana Academy, translated for both instructors as they spoke.
One of the major presentations at the conference included a report on what the Chinese principals and other officials learned from Indiana schools during their May visit. The report focused on classes and strategies that could help improve their own schools.
As Dr. Smith observed, “the similarities of the concerns and problems the Chinese are examining for reform in their educational system are similar to those in the United States.” Of the six examples offered for reform during the conference, four were from the Indiana Academy. The Ball State Museum of Art and North Central High School in Indianapolis provided the other two examples.
In addition to instructors from the Indiana Academy, the Indiana delegation included superintendents from North Allen, Merrilville, and Richmond; the principal of North Central High School, and the associate principal and two guidance counselors from Lawrence Central High School.