THE class begins as their beloved teacher comes in briskly, humming “I’m coming home, I’ve done my time. Now I’ve got to know what is and isn’t mine?”
Wallace Oswald Hylton has brought to his students Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree, a popular American folk song. As usual, he is applauded by the boys and girls whose school life is otherwise overshadowed by long texts and endless papers.
The students, most of whom are from peasant farmer families but have been lucky and diligent enough to attend Jianping County High School, one of the only two high schools in the needy county in the west of Liaoning province.
They love Hylton for his humour, vitality and the “lively, interesting and instructive” classes he gives, as one of them has put it.
Hylton encourages them to sing, dance, play games and even chat in class. The 69-year-old man from California in the United States is always ready to dance to the music and join the youngsters in their singing.
He gives tips to the students on how to think in English, and strikes up friendly little talks with them so that they will not hesitate to speak English.
“He’s more like a dad and friend to us,” said a boy in his class.
The Chinese students should be more confident and find happiness in their learning instead of being pushed by their parents and teachers, said Hylton.
“They should learn to study on their own initiative and seek genuine knowledge,” he said.
On the other hand, the students needed more time for leisure, he said. The traditional spoon-feeding way of teaching would easily deprive the students of their interest, enthusiasm and creativity, he added.
Hylton came to China in August at the invitation of an Australian education organisation that promotes English teaching in China, and has been teaching English in the small city of Chaoyang since then.
“He’s an outstanding teacher, energetic, innovative, and with a high sense of responsibility,” said Wu Yanan, Hylton’s Chinese colleague.
Hylton said he was happy with his cosy life here, where he expected to stay for one year.
As the first snowfall heralded the holiday season, Hylton said he would probably think of his family in the United States, but would never feel lonely with his new friends though far away from home. – China Daily