A Day in the Life of Ms Luo
How her lessons are opening hearts and minds.
Last week we caught up with Ms Luo and learnt about her incredible work transforming children’s lives (read here). Ms Luo works with children at Zhuhai Tangguoan Memorial Primary school and as part of her day-to-day classes she teaches children aged between 6 and 12 ACTAsia’s Caring for Life Education programme.
What is Caring for Life Education (CFL)?
CFL is a vital and award-winning education programme that is reaching out to youngsters in China to help them understand the wider world outside of the classroom. CFL’s unique six-year curriculum for all primary school years encompasses social welfare and citizenship, animal welfare, and environmental issues and recognises the interdependence of all living things.
About Ms Luo
Ms Luo first heard about ACTAsia and their programme in 2011 from a girl called Kiki (read her story here). Ms Luo was attracted to the themes of CFL, which teaches highly transferable ‘soft skills’ such as empathy, compassion, communication and teamwork. Topics in the CFL curriculum include animal protection from a child’s perspective; responsibility by being an animal owner and empathy by looking at situations through others’ perspectives. She has attended many CFL training workshops, as a participant and as a lecturer, training university students, parent volunteers and school teachers, both in a lecture format and experientially.
ACTAsia caught up with Ms Luo last Thursday to get an idea of what a typical day looks like for her.
Morning classes: Animals have feelings too
Today I have been teaching the CFL topic about sentient beings.The students were really excited as the lesson took place at a local farm. The younger children were thrilled to be surrounded by the animals and interact with them. For many this was the first time that they had been up close to animals such as cows and goats and seeing their reaction was wonderful.The CFL lesson about sentient beings is fascinating as we discuss Amazing Animals and the special capabilities animals have.We follow up with some exercises such as watching a video and then reviewing how the animal is feeling by comparing how would we feel in the same situation, or how we would feel if we had some of the amazing abilities that animals have! By being at the farm the children really experienced first-hand the impact of caring for animals and that they have feelings and emotions too. This is a new concept for quite a lot of the children.In fact, the word animal in Chinese literally translates as ‘moving object’ and before our CFL lessons many Asian children were growing up assuming that animals only existed to serve us, feed us, entertain us and clothe us.
Lunchtime: Gardening Club and ‘Caring Chairs’
Today was a bit of a treat as we planted some flowers in the school garden. As part of the CFL curriculum we look at the environment and the importance of plants for the atmosphere and a healthy and calm environment. Many of the students joined in as part of the newly established ‘gardening club’ at the school which was inspired by our CFL sessions. Typically, education here is very much tailored to academic subjects but activities like these are encouraging children to engage with nature and the wider environment. It gives the children a great sense of teamwork and they get to see a visible difference in the plants and their own wellbeing in caring for the garden.
CFL has also helped the students to learn more about compassion and empathy and caring for one another in addition to animals and the environment. As part of the importance caring for one another the school has implemented a new initiative at lunchtime. We have set up some ‘caring chairs’ in our school and students can sit on these chairs if they feel lonely. We are encouraging all the students to embrace this new idea and look out for anyone sitting on the ‘caring chairs’ and to show kindness and friendship.
Afternoon classes: Interacting with others
In the afternoon I was teaching the fourth theme from the CFL curriculum which is about interacting with others and this is one I always look forward to. Today I was exploring the concepts with the older children. In this topic we look at caring for working animals and the importance of knowing how to care for working animals and interacting with them safely. As part of the lesson, we teach fun interactive workshops with the children enabling them to carry out some role play and step into the shoes of their classmates in order to understand others’ feelings. I always love this activity as the responses from the children always surprises them and I feel that they really start to understand others. They learn that when conflict arises, it is often easier to regain their composure and face the problems that occur more rationally by swapping roles and feeling and thinking from the other person’s point of view. These lessons are fabulous at preparing the children for later life, as interacting positively with others is such a vital tool in their ‘soft skills’ skillset and essential for future employment.
Why I find that teaching CFL makes such a difference to children’s hearts and minds
This was a typical day for me teaching ACTAsia’s CFL curriculum as part of the school day. I love teaching the different themes and being part of a paradigm shift in children’s education. I like the teaching environment that we create to teach the CFL lessons. The classroom is open, respectful and interactive and I can see the growth of the children by working with them and seeing a change in their emotional attitude and values. As the saying goes, teaching grows with each other and I draw a lot of ‘nutrients’ from my students in the process of teaching. With the CFL programme every day in the classroom is unique. Teachers need to keep learning how to ignite children’s curiosity for learning, and the CFL programme helps us to achieve this. At the outset it was hard to teach these lessons but now the children speak up and every response is respected, every idea is accepted and children are more willing to express their ideas. Indeed, the greater the challenge – the greater the sense of achievement.
This could not be achieved without your help
ACTAsia would love to train more teachers like Ms Luo so that we can extend the roll out of our award-winning education programme in more schools. Such incredible progress in educating more teachers to introduce the CFL programme could not be achieved without the amazing generosity of our supporters who not only support us financially but who also support us in our drive to get ACTAsia’s tremendous work recognised and implemented. We hope that this recognition will offer even greater exposure for ACTAsia on a global platform extending our work and reach.