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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 17. July 18th, 1973

Learning from Experience

Learning from Experience

The notion of learning from experience is common to both countries and the types of activities carried out are similar. What differs is the degree to which this principle is applied in practice and the different attitudes they are designed to promote. At Shanghai's Dong Fang Hong (The East is Red) Kindergarten I noticed children were cutting out intricate patterns on folded paper, painting, playing with toys and reading from picture books. Superficially the same — but for the Chinese the learning of these skills has a political implication which is made explicit — to enable children to develop skills and knowledge to serve the people in their community in the best way possible.

Although this could be said about the aims of New Zealand pre-school education the — nature and extent of the application of this theory determines the attitudes of children and their future relationship in society. It is here that the difference is so marked and important.

Photo of Chinese children stretching

Photo of a Chinese child cutting paper

Manual labour is essential to the functioning of society and so becomes a part of pre-school education. One period a day the children of the kindergarten spend their time doing simple manual work. This is not a form of child-labour but an exercise in learning an important political concept — the recognition of manual work in order for society to survive. As the teacher said "it is to instil into the children a love of the working class and an understanding that they must learn from the workers."

That attitude which develops in the pupils is that all types of work which serve the people are of equal importance. In order that the children should learn this concept from practical experience, they manage their own garden to provide vegetables to eat, and do the manual labour themselves. At the same time learning to be useful members of the community and absorbing another major concept of revolutionary society — that of self-reliance.