July 19, 2006
Students from the National Hsin Chu University of Education (NHCUE) and National Tai Tung University (NTTU) made their first visit to Wheelock in July as part of the new student/faculty exchange program.
Julie Thomson, assistant director of Wheelock’s Urban Teacher Program, initiated discussions about this program in spring of 2005 between Wheelock and the Taiwan Economic Cultural Office in Boston. Wheelock President Jackie Jenkins-Scott then visited Taiwan and Associate Professor of Education Cheryl Render Brown was the first exchange scholar visiting National Pingtung University, National Hsinchu University and National Taitung University.
Render Brown is overjoyed to be reunited with the students she first met in April. She and Karen Murphy, assistant professor of Education, are teaching the course for the students, Introduction to Inclusive Early Childhood Education in a Multicultural/Multiracial/ Multilingual Society.
“Having this bright group of undergraduate and graduate early childhood students on our campus this summer has been an exciting extension of our venture into Taiwan. Their insights on our child care and education programs, varied philosophies, facilities for children and families, and our approach to teaching has give Karen and I many insights into our own teaching and an enhanced view of the world to take to our colleagues here at Wheelock … particularly how a collectivist perspective contrasts with our western individualistic one when our practices are examined and analyzed,” Render Brown said.
Shu-Fang Chen, a NTTU faculty member for early childhood education who accompanied the Taiwanese students to Wheelock, said Jenkins-Scott’s visit was inspiring and Render Brown’s teachings confirmed their admiration for Wheelock’s education programs and philosophy,
“Wheelock’s philosophy about the importance of early stage children’s development and belief that adults can be a support to children and teach them how to give to society is something we deeply agree with,” Chen said.
The group arrived at Wheelock July 8 and has been immersed in site visits at Boston early childhood centers each morning and attending the class, Introduction to Inclusive Early Childhood Education in a Multicultural/Multiracial/ Multilingual Society, each afternoon. The course, Chen said, has had a profound effect on the visiting students.
“We have to face many issues between different cultures but we are the majority in Taiwan. This class makes us think about the minority in our own country and how they might feel,” Chen said.
The group has also toured a host of Boston organizations and landmarks including the Boston Children’s Museum and Children’s Hospital.
“As university faculty I have learned a lot. There are so many supports here for teachers to help them continue to do a good job. There is so much more that we can do in Taiwan to keep teaching from being just routine,” Chen said.
The group was especially touched by the close connections between Wheelock alumni and the faculty.
“They are so proud to be a part of Wheelock. We could learn more about encouraging that connection between our students and faculty,” Chen said.
Since this is the inaugural trip for the group most of what they have learned will serve as the model for future excursions. Chen hopes this is the first visit of many to Wheelock and has extended an invitation to host Wheelock students and faculty in Taiwan.
The group will conclude their trip this weekend with a visit to the Lynn Health Care Center and a much deserved day at the beach in Gloucester.