EMPORIA, Kan. - Today brings news from China of another in a string of recent attacks on students by knife-wielding maniacs. Perhaps it is an inevitable sign of a society in transition and the lack of psychological services within China but what does that have to do with Kansas? Plenty!
Take a look at your regional state university. I don't have figures for Emporia State where my wife teaches but anybody in Emporia will tell you that the Chinese students make up a significant fraction of the student body. Almost all of these students are paying full out of state tuition rates which serves to keep the cost of in-state tuition lower for the locals.
Although the Kansas regional school that is doing the best job of recruiting foreign students is Fort Hays State, Emporia is clearly a national leader in teacher preparation. What ESU and other universities in the state should be doing is building on their reputation for educational excellence and campus safety which is why I believe there has been an explosion of growth in the number of foreign students.
Right now, fear is gripping the Chinese population. Parents are afraid to send their children to school! Keep in mind that for a long time China has enforced a one child per family policy to ease over population although that policy may be easing somewhat. For many of the parents who have lost their children to knife attacks this is their only child.
So, consider what it takes to allow your child to study overseas. My wife's parents still freaked out a bit when she told them she wanted to go to Haiti following the earthquake to set up an art therapy program and she's (well let's just say she's 29 again).
What ESU and other state schools should be doing is teaching self defense to the Chinese students to put their parents minds at ease. This would be especially welcome in the teacher preparation area where the students could learn about how to protect the children that they will soon be presiding over in the classroom.
A strong grounding in pedagogy, methodology and classroom management along with clinic experience can be enhanced by having a classroom safety skills course on your resume, especially if you are returning to teach in China.
Is it a cynical viewpoint, yes, but in the "marketplace" for students, especially full paying foreign students, it makes sense to teach Chinese students who are going to be returning home and taking up positions as teachers and principals of elementary and secondary schools how to protect the children they are serving from the recent spate of violence in the classroom.