MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Lectures from MIT professor, encouraging high school students to play a leading role in classrooms

January 22, 2014

First published in Chongqing Business Daily, January 9, 2014, by the reporter of Chongqing Business Daily, Yulu Liu

MIT professor entered the classroom of Verakin High School of Chongqing, encouraging the students to think critically and creatively.

Professor Larson working with the students, by photographer Zaiquan Long

“What, how, why, what is your logic?” Yesterday, Professor Richard Larson from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, gave an American-style demonstration class to the students at Verakin High School of Chongqing. During the class, in order to lead the students to debate and explore, Professor Larson kept asking questions. This demo class with rich interaction reveals the difference between the education in China and in the United States. However, this demo class is only one of the activities carried out by MIT BLOSSOMS at Verakin High School. MIT BLOSSOMS will collaborate with Verakin High School of Chongqing to develop eight video lessons for high school students in the next 9 months. Also, from January 6th through January 10th, there will be ten workshop at the Verakin High School during which Professor Larson and Ms. Elizabeth Murray will teach, train and guide the students and the teachers of Verakin High School to develop a new way of learning and teaching. 

Keep asking questions: Professor guides the students to debate

On January 8th, Professor Richard Larson appeared in front of 30 high school students at the Verakin High School of Chongqing.

This is the first time that a professor from Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave a class to Chinese high school students. At the beginning of this math class, Professor Larson threw a few common-sense questions at the students.  Even if they seemed to have answered correctly, he kept asking: “What, how, why, what is your logic?”

Then four students were invited to write the solutions that they thought correct on the blackboard. During this 30-minute lecture, under Dr. Larson’s guidance, the students began to argue, explain and prove their points of views.  Eventually, the correct answer was announced.  Everyone in the class found that Professor Larson almost did not say anything during the whole lecture, except that he asked the questions and concluded at the end. 

"As a teacher, my job is to guide students to think—it is their job to get a conclusion.  If the answer is not correct, they should keep doing research until they find the right answer. Dr. Larson said, “students should play a leading role in a class, while teachers should help students develop critical thinking and avoid rote, exam-oriented learning.”

Translated from the Mandarin Chinese by Ms. Ling Wang, MIT BLOSSOMS China Liaison