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Ten Fingers Playing the Piano

2016-08-29

 

"Have you ever heard of this saying by Chairman Mao? 'Ten Fingers Playing the Piano.' Right, I'm always busy. But it's like playing piano --- the trick is having good balance." said Fu Gangshan, Professor of Shaanxi Normal University.

He is a doctoral advisor, a national master teacher, a national outstanding teacher, a national outstanding ideological and political education worker, a leading expert of Shaanxi province brand major Educational Technology, and the SNNU's chief expert of Educational Technology .......



Fu Gangshan is always busy, tied up with work. After just finishing a phone conversation about a grassroots teaching research project, he answered questions from his graduate students who came to his office for consultation, then he has a class to teach soon, and he went on a business trip again after a few days ...... All these are in connection with one key phrase --- educational technology.

In this information age, educational informationization is getting wider application and more valued. Educational Technology is what Fu Gangshan works on. After his graduation from Shaanxi Normal University in 1982, he worked in the institution's audio-visual education center and began to think about how to use modern technologies to change traditional ways of teaching and learning. He realized traditional methods were not efficient and could hardly suit today's information society, so he committed himself to the research in educational technology. A few decades passed since then, over the years, he hosted five provincial or ministerial projects, four departmental or bureau-level projects, four horizontal projects, five SNNU educational reform key projects, published 47 research papers, chief-edited a series of textbooks of Information Technology for elementary and middle schools, and published six monographs and textbooks ......

In August 2015, Fu Gangshan was nominated as a candidate for "Good Teachers Whom the Party and People Are All Satisfied With". He really lives up to this title. Busy as he is, he always puts teaching first. He would get off a plane at five o'clock in the morning, prepare teaching notes again before hurrying to classroom, even though he had taught the same course many times. His course Modern Educational Technology, using a mixed teaching method of online teaching and topic lectures, which is a public compulsory course for all undergraduates in teacher education programs and masters of education candidates in Shaanxi Normal University. In addition to SNNU, this course is also popular in many other teacher training universities and colleges in northwest China and thousands of students have taken it.

Fu Gangshan never took attendance in class, but his class was always packed, some unregistered students even stood at the back of classroom auditing. He would lock the classroom door when he began class, so seldom were students late for class, for whoever was late would have to wait till break to get in, not daring to knock the door to interrupt. He would turn off his mobile phone during class and require students to do the same."People say he is a man of good temper who never reprimanded anyone, but he is strict with work and himself. He practices what he preaches."



His students would talk about him as a humorous teacher of noble character, who teaches clearly. His graduate students know they can call him anytime after class, even if it is after midnight.He would reply every text message students sent him.

"A teacher's mission is to teach, but more importantly to educate students. Educating is the first priority." Looking back on his 33-year teaching experience, Fu Gangshan remember many students who have left a deep impression on him. "I always remember students from poor families." Once a girl sitting in the first row of the classroom looked pale and kept sweating. Fu Gangshan knew something was wrong with her and asked. It turned out she had kidney stones and she did not go to hospital, even when she found blood in her urine because she had no money. Fu Gangshan took her to the hospital right away and paid the 600 yuan medical bill for her. He gave her another 400 yuan and refused to take the money when she tried to repay him before her graduation. "I gave you the moeny, I didn't lend you the money. It's nothing for a teacher to help a student who is willing to study." In private, students call him "Uncle Fu", some describing talking to him like talking to an amiable father.

Fu Gangshan believes a teacher, apart from the indispensable qualities of a teacher who constantly improves themselves, must care about his students. In 2009, he was honored with the title of National Teaching Master with 30,000 yuan award. He knew some of his students were badly in need of money, so he gave away 15,000 yuan to his undergraduate students and another 15,000 yuan to graduate students. He turned down the university's invitation to attend the award ceremony, saying: "I did not donate the money to get publicity. I hope these students receiving the money would be grateful to the university and they will study hard and live up to our expectations."

What keeps him busy beside teaching is social service. He has played a major role in the promotion, implementation and application of key projects like the national new curriculum reform, the School Internet Access Project, and the Rural Primary and Middle School Modern Distance Education Project. He voluntarily participated in the training programs for primary and middle school teachers which were assigned by the Shaanxi province or Ministry of Education. One of the trainees got excited when she talked about Mr. Fu, saying she had benefited a lot from his training, which not only deepened their understanding of new IT technologies, new concepts and advanced teaching methods such as microlecture, Mooc and flipped classroom, but also impressed them with his charm, kindness and sincerity. Many trainee teachers said they wanted more of such trainings, which with the growth of young teachers. Social services have also brought a lot workload to him, but Fu Gangshan found enjoyment in it. "Doing this, I can bring my students first-hand information about the teaching at local schools, provide them with more case studies and actual experiences before they take teaching positions. This also brings me first-hand information to my teaching and research, as well as improve the university's fame and popularity. So no matter how busy I am, why not do something you enjoy?"

Fu Gangshan has several hobbies, but seldom do people know he was a sports fan as they are so preoccupied with his image of a smiling and loving teacher. He used to pay basketball and soccer and was a good basketball player. He has now given up these competitive games as "I would have to make way for another player when he advances with the ball." laughed Fu. But occasionally he will find some time to go climbing or hiking. "I have a lot of hobbies, but am just too busy to enjoy them."

Teaching, research and social service are not only his career, but also part of his life. "I have many identities and a big workload, so I'll have to prioritize. But as a teacher, teaching is the most important. Then comes research, and then social service. Just like Chairman Mao said, we must learn to 'play piano with our ten fingers'". A busy man, Fu Gangshan is content with the things he enjoys doing.

Just as Qin Jian put it, "Back then he was not a teaching master. But I believe a teaching master isn't made in a day, and with the way he has been doing things all these years he couldn’t not become a teaching master."

Text by Wang Mengyuan, Zhu Yu

Photo by Feng Wei

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