Students enjoy range of first lessons in return to class

Updated: 2013-09-03 07:24

By Zhao Xinying (China Daily)

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Students enjoy range of first lessons in return to class

Around 370 first-graders of Nanjing Fuzimiao Primary School, Jiangsu province, learn how to write "people" in Chinese characters on their first day at school on Sunday. Xu Qi / for China Daily

Students across the nation embraced their first day of the new semester on Sunday in ways their parents may never have imagined.

At Nanjing's Fuzimiao Primary School, new first-graders dressed in hanfu, or Chinese ancient clothing, and learned to write the Chinese character for people with brushes.

At Xiaogang Experimental Primary School in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, students underwent safety drills during their first lessons.

At Tsinghua University, teachers planned to give the freshmen a first lesson about setbacks and frustration, to help top students from across the country prepare for fiercer competition from their peers at the prestigious university.

Many schools also invited celebrities to speak to students about life and success.

The High School Affiliated to Beijing Normal University, for example, invited Wang Yaping, the Chinese female astronaut who gave science lessons during her space flight on the Shenzhou X manned mission in June, to tell more than 800 students from several schools in Beijing's Xicheng district about her life and work.

Others invited to speak to students included Nobel Prize laureate Mo Yan and chess master Xie Jun.

Experts said first lessons from speakers such as these would influence and inspire students by their examples.

Yu Minzhi, a science teacher at a junior middle school in Beijing's Tongzhou district, said students listened to the personal stories of people who are models in their respective fields on the first day of the new semester and may gain inspiration.

"Students may understand that an ordinary person who has dreams and persists will have a good chance to become extraordinary," she said.

Shen Qingxia, whose son is a senior at a high school in Beijing, said such first lessons are "innovative", and give children knowledge beyond textbooks.

"It's different from teaching according to the textbooks," she said. "Special teachers bring special knowledge of their own fields in an interesting way, which cannot be learned from textbooks."

Li Lin, a student at the High School Affiliated to Beijing University of Chemical Technology, said such lessons are more enjoyable and relaxing. "I prefer a new semester to start like this, rather than beginning with knowledge from textbooks immediately."

But Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher on education with the National Institute of Education Sciences, said: "The first lesson is important, but not as important as the hundreds of lessons students will have during the semester. Schools and teachers should make more efforts on how to make each lesson of the day interesting and valuable."

Liu Yiran contributed to this story.