President Michael J. Graham, S.J., has signed a memorandum of understanding with Zhengzhou Normal University to create a cooperative relationship focused on the Montessori education method.
“This agreement starts the creation of programs for children in China to provide access to the high quality Montessori education Xavier is known for," said Gina Lofquist, director of the Montessori teacher education program at Xavier. “Our intention is that this partnership will lead to the development of a clear quality standard for Montessori education in China."
As the founder of the nation’s first master's program in Montessori education, Xavier has become a world leader in educating Montessori teachers and in promoting best practices in Montessori education. Xavier has developed relationships around the world to improve education for the world’s children by using the Montessori method.
The Montessori philosophy of education supports the fundamental tenet that a child learns best within a social environment that supports each individual's unique development. Multi-age groupings in each class promote peer group learning while the Montessori teacher learns to be a scientific observer and facilitator. The educator provides an environment for children developmentally appropriate to help growth in all areas: social, cognitive, emotional and physical.
Xavier’s undergraduate Montessori teacher education program is based on a strong foundation in liberal arts and child development. It prepares teachers with an understanding of how Montessori philosophy was applied in its earlier years and how it is applicable in today’s education environment. The Montessori curriculum prepares graduates to teach practical life, art, music, movement, sensorial, math, language, geography, science and history.
The signing took place on Monday, Oct. 8, at Xavier. Graham and Lofquist were joined by Xavier provost and chief academic officer Scott Chadwick, Cindy Geer, chair of the Department of Childhood Education and Literacy, Lori Johnson, assistant provost for Student Enrichment, and Mark Meyers, dean of the College of Social Sciences, Health, and Education. The Chinese delegation included Xu Hongwei, director of International Cooperation and Exchange Affairs at Zhengzhou Normal University, Xinping Li, a renowned television producer and educator from China, and translator Giacomo Forte.
“Xavier is poised to provide a service to the children and teachers of China, while also starting a relationship which will help our students develop learning opportunities,” said Meyers.
Zhengzhou Normal University, formerly Zhengzhou Teachers' College, was founded in 1952 in Zhengzhou, Henan, in the People’s Republic of China. Today, it is a full-fledged university and a public institution of higher learning accredited by China’s Ministry of Education. It has 17 departments in science, education and the arts. In recent years, Zhengzhou has broadened its international exchanges and has established intercollegiate relationships with 14 universities and institutions in Great Britain, Russia, Brazil, Canada and now the United States.