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花样选修课助你叩响职场大门  21英语网  佚名  2015-10-14    



What's for homework? A cup of tea


Students learn to develop valuable survival skills and deepen their sense of Chinese culture with the ancient art of zongzi making.

TIANJIN University freshman Liu Li showed up for her elective class on tea culture in China, Japan and South Korea expecting to sit at a desk and stare at a blackboard. To her surprise, she found herself in a classroom that had been turned into a makeshift teahouse - complete with fancy tea sets.


The elective was just one of a growing number that aim to bring practical topics to the classroom. Many of these classes are particularly tuned to the interests and desires of young people.


Zhang Yi, a 19-year-old journalism major at Yangzhou University, takes a wine-tasting class. Huang He, an 18-year-old international trade major at Tianjin University of Commerce, takes a class on jade jewelry.


The classes range from golf to tea ceremonies to nutrition.


Such classes aim to "improve students` `survival abilities`," said Wang Yingjie, a professor at the Institute of Higher Education at Beijing Normal University. "They help students to learn certain skills which can give them an advantage when hunting for jobs."


Devising such "practical" classes, says Wang, demands careful thought and planning.


A wonderful elective should not only consider the real-life needs of students. It should also contain academic substance and a lively learning environment.


US universities have long offered classes devoted to strange topics. Most, however, are founded on solid academic ground.


The Science of Harry Potter class offered at Frostburg University in Maryland, for example, is actually a physics class that analyzes the possibilities of magic.


Xuan Tianying, an expert in the Chinese Association of Higher Education, attributes the quality of such elective courses to US universities` democratic approach to the curriculum. At some schools, electives with the fewest students are eliminated from the course list. So, too, are classes that receive lots of negative feedback.


"It`s just like a course supermarket," said Xuan. "Professors work hard to stay on the shelf. But in China, the course system originally followed the former Soviet model," in which students had little say.


Aspects of this model still exist despite the reform that began in 2000. But some teachers have begun to catch on to the American model.


Zhu Rongshuang, 19, a German major at Shandong University, is satisfied with her elective this semester - Sun Zi`s Art of War and Strategy of Business Negotiation. "The teacher helps us to understand the application of war principles to business," said Zhu.


Huang Kan, dean of educational administration at Shandong University, says the class has been a hit: "This kind of course, which helps students explore and learn from ancient or popular culture, offers a successful formula for holding students` interest."







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