Bringing Knowledge to Those in Need: Reimagining Schwetizer’s Program by Serving Disadvantaged Students in Remote Areas

2021-11-24

In 2013, the Center for Teacher Education of National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) began implementing the Schweitzer Program, which was established by the Ministry of Education to encourage student teachers to realize the spirit of the educator Albert Schweitzer, that is, caring for the disadvantaged and providing professional services. As participants in the Schweitzer Program, student teachers convert the instructional knowledge and basic theories that they learned through teacher education programs into a “learning by doing” model that is based on hands-on practice and problem solving. During the summer vacation in July, approximately 20 to 30 NYCU student teachers spent 8 hours a day for 3 weeks (totaling more than 120 hours) at Baoshan Junior High School in Hsinchu County, where they provided guidance on schoolwork, morality, life, and career planning to approximately 60 to 80 disadvantaged students, who comprised children with indigenous identities, children from low-income households, and children of foreign spouses.

Based on student teachers’ experience of managing small groups in class, they were able to effectively apply class management theory and concepts. Through the arrangement of various activities, the student teachers enhanced their ability to conduct activities and apply management theories. The Schweitzer Program gave the student teachers an opportunity to teach while broadening the horizons of rural students and closing the urban-rural gap in education.

During the implementation of the Schweitzer Program, the energetic student teachers stayed up all night to develop plans for lessons and activities. Despite the scorching heat, the student teachers were genuinely happy to see the brightly sparkling eyes of those rural students.

Schweitzer once said, “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” People are the core of education. The Schweitzer Program has been conducted for 8 consecutive years since 2002, and close to 200 NYCU student teachers have participated in the program and served more than 400 disadvantaged students, creating new chapters in the history of the program with each passing year.

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