A special knack for teaching

08:59, May 20, 2011      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

Special education teacher Chen Yang, 29, teaches Chinese characters to her nine students in Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan province. The characters say "melon". Provided to China Daily

Unlike other teachers, Chen Yang takes being slapped and spat on for granted.

The 29-year-old has been working as a special education teacher for 10 years, and all of her students have difficulties such as cerebral palsy and autism.

"I did hesitate when I chose special education as my career," Chen said. "But I don't regret my choice after spending 10 years with my students."

Having given up the chance to teach at a regular primary school after university, Chen often faces misconceptions about her work at Lizhi School, in her hometown of Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province.

Some of her relatives even ask to her face: "What is wrong with you, choosing to teach a group of fools?"

Chen also got into a fight with a young man coming to pick her up at school for their first date when he said a student walked like a puppet.

But Chen was grateful she had the chance to set the issue straight immediately - she has since earned his support, and his hand in marriage.

"I just want to do something to help these children reduce their dependence on other people," Chen said. "I know they may never lead normal lives, but they will probably be able to take care of themselves if proper education is provided."

In Chen's school, students receive nine years of special education including language training, manners, cooking, needlework - and how to know if they are being abducted.

"Vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, many children with physical or mental disabilities are kidnapped and used as beggars. To avoid such tragedies, we want children to learn proper information," Chen said.

Chinese netizens made national headlines at the beginning of the year when they used micro blogs to save abducted child beggars.

Statistics from the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs show that as many as 1.5 million children are beggars, a large number of whom were abducted. About 3,000 abductions of women and children are reported every year, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Chen now has nine students in her class. She understands the temperaments, physical conditions and needs of every student.

She often has to repeat the pronunciation of a word hundreds or even thousands of times to children with specific learning difficulties.

"If 1,000 times are not enough, then just go ahead, teach the 1,001st time," Chen said.

Cooking is also emphasized in the school. With basic skills, the children can at least make themselves warm food if no one is taking care of them, said Chen.

Along with teaching communication and life skills, Chen also takes care of their daily lives. She is accustomed to washing their dirty clothes, wiping their noses and being spat in the face by some students.

"Children with autism are very unpredictable when the weather changes," Chen said.

One day, a student with autism started to cry out hysterically for no clear reason and wanted to smash his head against the glass window.

Chen held him strongly from behind, but the struggling student started to kick Chen's legs. By the time other teachers came to help, both Chen's legs were all bruised.

But the next day when the child recovered, he came over and caressed Chen's legs saying, "I won't kick you again."

Chen said she felt she had nothing to complain about once she heard his words.

At other times, students sneak up on her and secretly put a box of milk or some candies inside her pocket.

"My husband finds it interesting that there is always something different in my pockets every day," Chen said, smiling. "To me, the students are the cutest children."

However, Chen hopes that more attention can be paid to special education in Zhengzhou, and the less-developed areas in China.

"Compared with similar schools in Beijing and Shanghai, our teaching equipment and textbooks are of low quality, and the high school education for those children is a total blank."

The disabled children can do better if they receive further education after graduating from primary school, Chen said.

Source:China Daily
BRICS Leaders Meeting 2011
Japan in aftershocks
  Weekly review  
May 12   No winners in U.S. hi-tech export controls
May 12   China should view livelihood issues from strategic perspective
May 11   Syria will not be another Libya
May 06   Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway to launch 10-day trial run
May 14   The week in pictures
May 11   2000-year-old wine unearthed in Henan province
May 11   Scientist: China plans to build lunar research base
May 09   Apple employee, customer reach settlement after Beijing iPad brawl
May 12   Wenchuan Reconstruction: 'Chinese miracle' impresses world
May 12   No winners in U.S. hi-tech export controls


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • 3rd Anniversary Of Wenchuan Earthquake
  • Third China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Jiangxi hit by drought affecting rice output
  • Thai candidates register for election
  • Queen Elizabeth II visits Irish National Stud on third day
  • At least 25 killed, 70 wounded in Iraq's Kirkuk twin bomb attacks
  • Joint efforts needed to address global challenges: Chinese vice premier
  • Emblem of 2014 Youth Olympic Games unveiled in Nanjing
Hot Forum Dicussion