Wednesday, August 23, 2017

In Quest of the New
The Sungni Senior Middle School in Rangnang District is known across Pyongyang as one whose students are bright at their lessons. When I visited the school to know its secret, headmaster Kim Sok Ryol, Labour Hero and People’s Teacher, was examining the contents of the teaching program of physics. He showed the program to me. The teaching program of last year was filled up closely with new notes leaving no blank, whereas the new teaching program was clean, edited from last year’s program. Its fuzzy pages are eloquent of the painstaking efforts of teachers to find out a new teaching method, writing in notes about the questions brought up in class.

Here is a note jotted down by a teacher in the space of his program of instruction:

“The lesson went on by questions and answers and the students who answered my questions gratified me. But when I posed a problem relevant to the subject of the lesson, many of them failed to solve it. This was because I did not take into consideration their difference in ability. So, poor students feeling small in the presence of bright students remain dumb in class. I think it is required by the present-day education to enhance the average capacity of the students to nurse them into a large force of talent.”

To give the different-levelled students enough time for thinking, the teacher cut the time of explanation in the lessons on condition that they prepare enough for the lessons, while letting them settle simple problems by means of discussion among each study group. Then he made it a rule to conduct a lesson where detailed explanation is given only about a difficult problem when it came hard for all students to understand and rewrote the teaching program accordingly. This enabled the weak students to have more opportunity to have their say and give full play to their latent faculties and encouraged all students to devote themselves to studies with greater zeal. His experience was generalized in the school, bringing forth various new teaching methods, and this resulted in a new school-year’s teaching program for every subject which was just like an essay.

While making much account of the teacher’s fluent speech in conducting classwork by the heuristic method, the school judged the real merit of the lessons by how much novel and original methods are employed in them. Some teachers given to their experiences awoke to the truth that sticking to outdated views, they could not keep pace with the demands of the times and started to explore new teaching methods one by one meticulously.

The school adopted a new yardstick in measuring the students’ ability. It was impossible to evaluate accurately their cognitive faculty and ability of practical application by the conventional method of examination for cramming and memorizing. The school made a more strict demand on the students at the end of a school term or a school year, and took special care to prevent the examination questions from serving only for rating. The range of examination questions was extended and they were chosen not for memorizing but for efficient application in practice so that the students may become aware of their ability and exert themselves. All this led to the improvement of their ability.

In February last the school ranked first in the investigation of ability of the senior middle school students of the district conducted by the mode of overall examination by computers. The headmaster says, “People often say that we educators are people living for the future. But I think we cannot be called people living for the future just because we are now teaching the students. So, I would like to say that an educator is a person who goes always in quest of the new.”

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