For a biology class for example, that meant rather than sitting with them having them learn the words for the things inside our body, words that are hard for me to even pronounce much less remember (unfortunately, the English speaking scientist we owe our knowledge in science to seemed to had entertained a penchant for naming things in exactly NOT English; Greek and Latin to e exact), I had them make models instead.
While the end goal was successful, that students went through and completed the procedure, the ideal goal was not. I had hoped the kids were inspired through these projects to become vested in their own education.
Because of the reality that the world simply can not afford the educating and grooming of its population by any individual, group of individuals or institutions, the hope was, instead, the kids become their own teacher.
Even though things hadn’t gone as expected, what good came from the experience was that the kids were left with something they could retain.
They may forget a lot about what happened in our classes, but they will always remember that one time in biology when they made a cell on their own.
Those experiences are still vital for their future and even if they did not leave the class wanting to do more biology, they may some day reconsider things.
And even though China did not turn out to be an easier place to function as a teacher, I, at least, could now understand the difficulty any nation must face if it is going to make the promise of teaching everyone equally.