Success Story – Ms Wei Jing
Our latest success story features the wonderful teacher, Ms. Wei Jing. Ms. Wei is from Heyuan, Guangdong, located in the south of China, where she works at Jian Yuan Primary School.
Two years ago, Ms. Wei began partaking in ACTAsia’s Earth Day activities with her students through our Caring for Life Earth Day toolkit. She has taken our Caring for Life (CFL) children’s educational framework and applied its themes and materials into her own teaching practice. Drawing from ACTAsia’s CFL, Ms. Wei works to instil respect and compassion in her students to create a generation of future change-makers.
Ms. Wei is a passionate teacher. ‘Children give me new ways of thinking,’ Ms. Wei shares. She enjoys the process of using new and creative approaches to teach traditional Chinese culture. Ms. Wei is determined to empower her students to be critical thinkers who can build sustainable futures. She is accordingly drawn to CFL and ACTAsia’s Earth Day activities.
Ms. Wei teaches eleven-year-olds, her classes consisting of fifty students: a number typical in Chinese schools. When we asked her how she manages such a large number of young students, she chuckles. ‘I get used to it,’ she says. ‘Behaviour [of students] depends on the school environment.’ Most of the children’s parents at the school where Ms. Wei works live far away. As a result, many of her students are raised without the opportunities and care associated with a strong family environment. This, she tells us, can often make her students prone to poor behaviour.
To Ms. Wei, teaching eleven-year-olds is a special and crucial opportunity. ‘I enjoy the growing maturity of that age,’ she says. As these children grow up and approach adolescence, ‘we need to give more guidance on how to be compassionate, how to be good.’ Ms. Wei emphasises that it is especially important to equip students with tools for developing lifelong responsibility and care. This is one of the reasons why she so firmly believes in the importance of teaching compassion through CFL. ‘It is hard to train students to be better people,’ says Ms. Wei, ‘there are not many resources like CFL to provide students with a comprehensive, holistic education.’
Addressing Climate Change with Caring for Life
Ms. Wei discusses the ever-growing expectations and requirements of teachers. ‘It is not just about teaching skills, but morals,’ she says, ‘not just about teaching children how to be good, but parents as well.’ However, teachers are given minimal support in realising this goliath feat.
ACTAsia’s CFL education for children programme aims to support Asian children aged between 6 and 12 years old in developing a sense of compassion and responsibility for animals, people and the environment. Using education to promote the One Health concept, central to the CFL programme is the interdependence of all living things.
For Earth Day, ACTAsia invites schools in Asia to share key concepts on climate change and biodiversity using materials and activities from our CFL framework. Ms. Wei has been taking part in these activities with these students for the past two years.
Ms. Wei was first introduced to CFL as an undergraduate student, where she underwent professional training. ‘The training influenced the content I teach in class,’ she says. Her initiative to incorporate CFL into her teaching is nothing short of inspirational. As Jian Yuan Primary School is not an ACTAsia pioneer school, her use of CFL themes in her lessons is her own independent project. This is testament to Ms. Wei’s belief in and understanding of the importance of building compassion through environmental and humane education. She is the only teacher in her school to conduct lessons on biodiversity and climate change.
If birds lose their home, we too, will soon lose our home
The Earth Day activities are impactful, Ms. Wei tells us. The children are shocked to learn about the deterioration of the environment and are motivated to act. Without CFL, it is hard for students to understand and digest climate change: ‘they don’t have guidance to protect the environment.’
For Ms. Wei, what stands out most about ACTAsia’s CFL is its promotion of critical thinking and imagination amongst young learners. She shares stories of her young students’ profound responses to climate change during her Earth Day classes. She describes a powerful, ominous painting made by one quiet, introverted girl. It seemed to capture both the sorrow of environmental detriment and the hope and determination for a better future.
‘A boy stood up and said, “destroying forests is equal to destroying birds’ homes. If birds lose their home, we too, will soon lose our home.’”
The materials of CFL spark environmental concern and action amongst students. ‘It is a very good start for protecting the environment,’ says Ms. Wei.
Ms. Wei plans to continue teaching Earth Day every year. She hopes to introduce the full CFL curriculum into her school so that empathy, compassion, and the importance of protecting animals and the environment are part of day-to-day learning.
Thank you, Ms. Wei, for sharing and advancing our vision in educating and empowering children to change the world!