Tianjingsha: Spring Thought
Ancient trees and pear blossom outside the pavilion,
The sun is about to set.
A house by a broken bridge with water flowing underneath
At the foot of Jiulong Mountains
When can we meet again.
This is a poem wrote by Zimo Chen, a student of grade six at Haidian Kaiwen Academy, during the trip to the ancient road in west Beijing.
Field trip is an important constituent part of teaching practice at Haidian Kaiwen Academy. Cross-disciplinary field trips guide students to the classroom of nature to learn about the culture, history and natural sciences, and arouse their interests in study so that they can better combine what they learned in school with life experience. It is also an effective way to boost cultural confidence and promote patriotism among students, fostering them into international talents taking deep root in Chinese culture and having strong love for their nation in the big classroom of society.
On April 18, 2019, students of grade six at Haidian Kaiwen Academy embarked on an excursion to the ancient road in Mentougou District, west Beijing. They visited the Shuiyuzui Village, Niujiaoling Mountains, and walked to Dongmage Village where they went to the former residence of Ma Zhiyuan. The final stop is the Jiuyuan Memorial Gate. During the trip, students learned the culture and history of the ancient road, and got to know plants along the way. It is a cross-disciplinary social practice activity where students learned new knowledge and had fun.
Cultural education: the history and culture of the ancient road in west Beijing
The ancient road in west Beijing extends to the distance
Wherever there is a road, there are changes
Not to mention the long hardship of rainstorm
The ancient road with a history of thousands of years has so many bitterness and glories behind.
Excerpted lyrics of the Ancient Road in West Beijing
In the morning, students of Kaiwen Academy followed the footsteps of ancestors to embark on a journey to the ancient road in west Beijing. With quiet mountainous road, ancient houses and steep rocks, students escaped the hustling urban life and experienced the vicissitudes of history.
Students learn about the culture of the ancient road in a local museum
The ancient road in west Beijing extends westward from Beijing to Hebei Province, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and Shanxi Province. It used to be the only way local villagers to get out of the mountains. In the Yuan and Ming dynasties, the increasing population in the capital city and thriving businesses spurred government and businesses to fund the building of the road, which turned into a 2-meter-wide rock-paved road. Thousands of caravans travelled on the road day after day to transport coal, rocks and colored glaze. Over hundreds of years, the road had become an important route of commercial and military significance.
Military bar, a tour to a former military shelter
As time goes by, the ancient road today is desolate, but the horses of the passing caravans left indelible imprints on it. When students walked on the road, they found the imprints, recalling the long caravans and scaling stores along it years ago.
Niujiiaoling Mountains port, the most important gateway on the ancient road in west Beijing
Culture is a kind of creation, a memory and what should be passed on. Students traveled on the ancient road in west Beijing, during which they recalled the history, cultivated their cultural qualities and developed a healthy personality, laying foundation for their growth to be all-round talents.
A trip popularizing science: taking notes of nature
Students marveled at the wonderful future of the ancient road. On the rocky road, or in the ancient village, they observed plants, listened to the teacher's explanation, took notes, and raised questions, turning the trip into a lively science class combining disciplines like geography and biology. Teachers and students studied together and were preoccupied with discussions.
A special tutor introduced plants seen along the way, including lichen, rehmannia, viola prionantha, columbine and dandelions. Some are edible, some can be used as herbal medicine, and others can dispel mosquitoes. Students listened carefully to the tutor's introduction while taking close look at and smell the plants. They learned the species and of the plants, wrote down their names and drew sketches of them. Students also made leaf rubbings and herbarium with crayons and tapes.
With close contact with nature, students of Kaiwen Academy explored the plants along the way. They learned about the species, developed a greater interest in learning and positive and healthy outlook on life, and had their friendship closer and team more cohesive.
Literature creation: adapting Tianjingsha: Autumn Thought in the former residence of Ma Zhiyuan
Sere vines, old trees and nesting crows,
A house by a bridge over a stream
Skinny horse on the ancient road in the western wind
The sun sets
Afar the heart-broken is roaming
This poem by Ma Zhiyuan, a dramatist during China's Yuan Dynasty, depicts the bleakness of late autumn and the loneliness of travelers far from home. In the poem, the ancient road is the one where the students traveled. The last stop of the hiking was the Jiuyuan Garden, where they visited the former residence of Ma. Students adapted the famous poem. Here are some selected works:
Ancient road: spring trip
Elaine Zhang (Grade 6)
Hiking on the ancient road,
A trip of fun and learning
It is the best days of the year
It is a clear day
During the best days of our life.
Rose Wu (Grade 6)
Cocoons and orchids hanging on old branches.
The spring flows across the small village.
Stone slopes and tiles are in the sunset.
Under the shade of green trees,
Children learn to draw with great interest.
Tianjingsha: recalling the old days
Kevin Wang (Grade 6)
Shocked birds, ancient road, and the spring breeze,
Steep slope, white cloud, and refreshing flowers
A house along the stream in the mountains.
Showered in sunlight
Bringing people to the old days
Hiking On Ancient Road
David Tang (Grade 6)
Great natural scenery stands on this ancient road.
The spring flows across every house.
Trees and flowers come back to life.
I have hiked' til noon,
And now it’s time to walk back home.
Encounter in the place but of different times is possible thanks to a classic poem. Trips to re-think classic works are what we are pursuing.
The field trips of Haidian Kaiwen Academy are not simply about sightseeing,
but an extension of school classes.
Coming out of the classroom and the school,
students embrace the vast nature and society to broaden their horizons and foster their outlook so as to invigorate the life.