We all grew up thinking that the Chinese people are so much smarter on average than American people. It is a stereotype that has been discussed over and over.
I could go on and on about how our American Educational system has holes and issues and that we are not producing the most intelligent people as we could.
But let me tell you about the Chinese educational system. I have been over here teaching English for the most part… and other things as you well know. I have learned a lot of interesting things about the educational system over here.
When a child reaches 2 to 5 they are sent to kindergarten. Which is more like a daycare actually, but they start teaching them things and start teaching them English. Although, these kids are spoiled and misbehave constantly and cannot understand a word the English teacher says they are still pushed to learn. (I myself do not teach children due to the fact that I would throw them all out the window if given a chance)
They are then sent to primary school, in which they are all in uniforms and all have the same hair cuts and basically same everything. You cant tell who is a boy and who is a girl.. most of the time. In primary school, they are taught all the basics in math, science, chinese history, computers, English, Chinese language and so on. They do give them a PE class and art class of sorts. But the main focus is on the books. In addition to these classes most students have to also attend “extra” classes. That may include latin dance, some kind of instrument, more English classes, extra math classes and extra science classes outside of the regular school day.
By the time they get to middle school… they have to live in the school. They are expected to get up at 6am… run, then eat breakfast… study until 11pm.. eat lunch, study until 5pm eat dinner.. then study again until 930pm… then go to bed. This is their routine throughout their Middle school and High school days. They visit their parents on the weekends and during the holidays but they are given a tremendous amount of homework to finish during these times.
One high school student that was planning to go abroad to study showed me her homework assignments. For her History class she had to write 21 reports .. that were due the next school year. These were to be done over the summer, along with some extremely difficult Math homework, and Science homework.
These kids don’t get free time to play not even in the summer. Most are not allowed to watch tv and if they are it is only one hour a week. Some kids are not allowed to go on the internet or use the cell phone unless it is school related.
All the studying throughout this childhood all boils down to ONE big test. Every year China give one large academic exam that covers everything you should have learned in your school years. If you do not do well on this test .. then you do not get to go to a good university, or you may get stuck in a votech school.. or no school at all.
In China the importance of what university you went to is extremely mind-blowing. They don’t really care what you know .. just care where you went to school. If the school was not good.. you will not get a good job.
This pressure is a very large burden on a child’s shoulders. Worrying that this test will determine their future and if they fail they not only ruin their lives they shame their parents and family. Makes you understand why they have a high suicide rate for teenagers over here.
Although, many people in China go to university… the majority do not. With so many people in a country, the chances of all of them getting an education is very slim. They have very few schools that are considered good schools and even fewer universities.
One parent told me that only about 20% of the Chinese population has gone to university and only about 30% of the population has any education at all. Due to the fact that it cost money to go to school. Many family are very poor and cant afford for their children to school. I am not positive the percentages she gave me are correct but it is believable from where I stand.
A lot of pressure on one child….and in some cases the only child in a family. When these children are sent abroad to learn, it not only makes their parents look good but it shows they have a foreign education which is highly coveted in China. Most prefer an American education… but the cost is much higher… so they settle for England, Canada or Australia where it is cheaper.
When I asked these children what do they think about school… they say.. it is boring and too much homework. But they do it .. because they are told to do it and it is what their parents expect them to do.
Some may say this system is good and some may say that it is bad.. I personally things there are good things and bad things in every educational system. I feel that the study habits of the Chinese children should be used more in America.. but I feel the American teaching of creativity and open-mindedness… should be taught in China.
Unfortunately, these children in China.. do not know how to take care of themselves, they only know how to study. Which creates another problem within itself when they are out of university. It also explains why they have to come back and live with their families.
until next time…..
- U.S. Schools Are Still Ahead – Way Ahead (businessweek.com)
- Shanghai Schools Push Students to Top of Tests – NYTimes.com (nytimes.com)
- Are Chinese Mothers Superior To American Mothers? (thelastpsychiatrist.com)
- The good, the bad and the ugly education facts (theglobeandmail.com)
- Far Eastern schools shame our education system, claims Gove (dailymail.co.uk)
- Education: Failing Kindergarteners?: You Cannot be Serious! (psychologytoday.com)