OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO TEACHING
LANGUAGE TEACHER PROVIDES WORLD OPPORTUNITIES FOR HER STUDENTS
A teacher whose own education was disrupted has gone on to create one of Queensland’s largest school Chinese language departments.
Marsden State High School’s inspirational teacher Ping Ding grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China. Upon leaving school at 16 she was allocated by the government to work in a public bathhouse. Five years later, in 1978, she and a whole generation of Chinese citizens were allowed to apply for university for the first time in a decade.
“For us it was a really rare opportunity. We took all of [the] opportunity to study everything. In the morning we took our school bus, we went to the library and we occupied the study room. Because we lost something before, once the opportunity came up, we never wanted to give it up,” Ms Ding explained.
The value of education and the opportunities it provides never left her, and she became a teacher in 1983. This year, her extraordinary journey has led her to being named a finalist for the Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Award.
“I really love teaching; you have to love it; if you do not love this job then you can’t do it,” Ms Ding said.
In 1995, after living in separate countries from her husband for five years, she was able to follow him to Australia. In her new home, language was the first barrier she had to overcome. In a bridging course at QUT she graduated top of her class.
After carrying out her teaching practicum at Marsden State High School (MSHS), she went on to work at the school. There was a learning curve with the differences in culture too; Ms Ding recognised that you needed to engage students more in their learning in Australia.
Ms Ding went to work building relationships with sister schools so her students could practice Chinese language with visiting Chinese students and then travel to and learn at a sister school.
“They open up our students’ eyes – this world is not just Marsden,” Ms Ding said.
The teacher believes learning a language opens students to other cultures and provides employment opportunities in a wide range of industries. She knows too, from personal experience, how difficult learning a new language can be.
“Be brave, take a challenge because learning a language is not easy,” she said.
The educator has secured thousands of dollars in funding over the years to provide computers to her students and to help fund their overseas travel. Her Chinese students regularly win scholarships and Chinese Bridge (Proficiency) competitions – one student competed in the Chinese Bridge World Competition during Ms Ding’s early tenure at MSHS.
Her Senior Chinese students all pass the subject, with over a third receiving A grades. Over two decades she has grown the popularity of Chinese at MSHS, taking it from the five classes she taught in 2001, to 20 classes this year with six teachers on staff.
“Unbelievable – you cannot believe that one school has six Chinese teachers,” she said.
The winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on 29 October, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day in Australia.