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Differences between Chinese and Western education systems

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Teeninvestor, Mar 15, 2009.

  1. Teeninvestor

    Teeninvestor Chieftain

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    Not to be racist, but I tend to notice(at least in my area) that asian students tend to do better overall in Schools. However, few people know about the education system of countries in Asia. Here I will try to explain the key differences between education systems of Asia and West by comparing two major countries in each area, China and USA.

    The key differences, in my view, are:
    a) emphasis
    b) structure
    c) tests and competition
    d) extracurriculars

    Emphasis-

    In China, the education is the most important goal of the parent and the child. Parents actively intervene in an attempt to improve the grades of the child. In fact, there is a general consensus(which most children here would find disagreeable) that if the child is not studying, he/she is "wasting" his/her time. Parents will spend whatever it takes to get their kids to University; even borrowing money. Rarely are any student loans made in China.

    The teacher and school system shares this emphasis. Teachers regularly contact parents to report the situation of their child.

    The typical Chinese school day begins at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. There is no recess or lunch break. Homework is assigned liberally by teachers(usually 3 pages per subject; there is regularly 8-12 subjects). Bullying, as well as any time spent "not studying" is dealt with harshly. Also, most students, due to the workload, do not have time to engage in other activities.


    Structure-

    The Chinese education system is structured much more differently than here. Competition for entry into schools does not begin in HS; it begins in Kindergarden.
    There is heavy competition. One saying goes "In order to get into the good university, you must get into the good high school. In order to get into the good high school, you must get into the good junior high school. In order to get into the good junior high school, you must get into the good elementary school. In order to get into the good elementary school, you must get into the good kindergarden.

    Entry into "good" schools are based on test marks conducted at every one of these stages. At the end of primary, junior, and high schools, exams for every subject is issued. Entry criteria is based entirely on these marks, as well as extracurriculars. Marks are also weighed based on the quality of the feeder school. E.g., a good high school would weigh a good junior high school more than a weaker one.

    There is no course choosing until High school. Students must study in eight areas- Biology, Chinese, English, Physics, History, Chemistry, Mathematics, Civics.

    Entry into University is based on the "Gao Kai" or high school exams, a gruelling set of three-hour exams for each subject area, carried out over four days. The score of the student in these exams determine which university will accept him. Each university sets an acceptance level on the "average" of the student. If you are higher than the acceptance level, you are admitted.

    Tests and competition-

    As I have already mentioned, tests are the criteria for EVERY subject. The final mark on the report card is completely dependant on the test score for the exam; the concept of "assignments" is virtually unknown in China.

    As you have probably already figured out, competition in these schools are high. Test scores will determine your future(a bad or a good school; a blue collar or a white collar). However, the school likes to promote this competition.

    After each test is marked(usually two days after the test itself) the test scores of all the students are POSTED on the hall for everyone to see. Then the teacher will do a little "post-test" analysis; good students are rewarded and praised by the teacher, who tells everyone else to follow him/her; students whose test scores have degraded are criticized by the teacher, who offers suggestions for improvement; students whose scores are lowest are criticized, and frequently gets calls home.

    Not only that, but the highest scoring students are rewarded with certificates, and more importantly, money. The money rewarded goes from 100-1000 yuan; from the school.(average wage in cHina is 24,000 yuan). This money is rewarded to students who have done extremely well on such tests. In addition, other prizes of money and certificates are rewarded for the "Shan Bai" students, or any students who have scored 100% on three or more of his/her exams.

    The emphasis (and wage) of the teacher is mostly dependant on the number of students under his/her wing that have gone to a "good" school. E.g., a teacher in a junior high school would be considered good if most of his/her students went to a good high school. Consequently, the teacher's emphasis is to promote his/her good students into getting good marks.

    Extracurriculars- Alas, if you thought a chinese student would be free after class, it is not so. Frequently, admission into high schools and junior high schools(though not universities) are based on "Extracurriculars". THe student must demonstrate "talent". Therefore, every parent who can afford it signs their kid up for MANY extracurricular classes, ranging from piano to olympic math.

    These classes often occupy the weekends of a chinese student. On my last visit, my cousin was unable to be with me most of the time(it was in july, the summer break) because he had to get up at 7:00 a.m. to go to his extracurricular classes, and they did not end until 3 P.M. ON school days, many students are shuffled to these classes once they get out of school; After returning to their house, often at 8 or 9 p.m., they have an hour or so to finish their gigantic load of homework, in order to be prepared for the next day of school.
     
  2. Oruc

    Oruc Reactionary

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    The language is a pretty big difference
     
  3. civhelp121

    civhelp121 Chieftain

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    That all sounds great, but considering how much more work what you mentioned is than our system and considering that east asian immigrants tend to do only a little better than most kids shows that the immense increase in work only marginally increases test scores. I've had a lot of experiance with south Asian and East Asian school because my school consists of 1/3 white, 1/3 indian, and 1/3 east asian.

    In any case what you are describing is very similar to the japanese system, and there is a very high suicide rate. There might not be the same statistics coming from china, but considering how closed china is, I wouldn't be suprised if they were supressing the statistics. In any case I don't think a slight increase in grades warrents a massive increase in suicides.

    In anycase i know plenty of white kids who do a lot better than East Asian immigrants.
     
  4. downtown

    downtown Crafternoon Delight

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    I think the biggest difference between the American System and other systems (including Western European ones) is the answer "who gets educated?"

    The US Education system is dedicated to the idea that *everybody* should be educated. Other systems believe that only X% should.

    I think the two systems are awfully apples and oranges, since they are clearly meant to do two different things. Totally switching the American educational system with say, the Chinese model, would do little to fix some of the biggest problems with the US.

    The American system, for being as maligned as it is, does several things exceptionally well.
     
  5. Teeninvestor

    Teeninvestor Chieftain

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    Wasn't advocating it, if you didn't notice. Just pointing it out, because most people have not much knowledge of Asian education systems.
     
  6. Ecofarm

    Ecofarm Chieftain

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    How many of the asians "in your area" are Chinese? 5%? How many are 1st or 2nd generation immigrants? Less than 1%? A generation ago, China had real crap education anyway, with the "9-6-3" general rule. That being 9/10 enter primary, 6/10 graduate primary and 3/10 are actually proficient at the primary education level. In ~1980, 1.4% of adults had college degrees?

    But sure... let's use China to explain your stereotype. Boggle.
     
  7. civhelp121

    civhelp121 Chieftain

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    sorry, I misinterpreted your original post.
     
  8. Teeninvestor

    Teeninvestor Chieftain

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    Virtually all, actually. There are a few koreans here as well. Also, If you didn't notice civhelper121' s comments above, korea and Japan have similar education systems.

    Hello????? Comparing China 2008 with China 1980 is like comparing US 2008 with US 1908.
     
  9. LightFang

    LightFang "I'm the hero!"

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    This. My dad grew up in Taiwan, which has a similar education system to that of China, Japan, etc. Even there, it is very difficult to advance because so few people actually move on to the next step in education. He never said what downtown said explicitly, but I think that's a very reasonable explanation.

    Or...US 1980. :p
     
  10. Teeninvestor

    Teeninvestor Chieftain

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    Yo, guys, you realize I didn't say we should adopt this system. In fact, I think a mixture of the two might be good.(for example, incorporating rewards into the western system, etc...).

    The Chinese system is brutal. It works for getting the students to know the facts, but it's just brutal. In fact, some Chinese immigrate to the West just because the education system there is easier on their kids.
     
  11. innonimatu

    innonimatu Chieftain

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    Some chinese want to become the new poles here in the forum - China vs. this, China that... :p

    I'd like to see you back a claim that western european systems are about educating only some part of the population!

    Looking at the cost of tuition in the US compared with continental Europe, I get the opposite impression.
     
  12. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    no not at all. China (and the rest of east asia) has changed waaaaaay more in these last 30 years than the US has. This image should explain why:

     
  13. Theige

    Theige American Baron

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    So you're saying then that the proper comparison for the U.S. would be from around 1870 - 1910
     
  14. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam GiftOfNukes

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    They modernized and their economy is less and less functionally communist? A lot of export-driven growth there too.

    Education isn't done efficiently anywhere. I notice this because I am not a statistical outlier by any means, but was able to easily blow through all of high school and graduate 4th in my class, with barely any work done outside of the standard US school day. There are different learning speeds, sometimes quite drastic. Inefficiency in most modern education systems starts there.

    Then there's the subject concentration. I'll save the idiot stigma in the US over math for another time, but essentially after some basic skills, a worker needs to specialize (division of labor concept and whatnot), at least to an extent. Grinding one's knowledge (not intelligence or anything else...just flat knowledge) won't make a person better at the one or several tasks they perform.

    Firms are increasingly using their own intelligence tests (which are linked to performance on the job) and even their own training programs to ready the work force ---> degrees are almost like a screening process now. That should give a general idea of how useful it is to give students the equivalent of a full time job or more throughout their young lives. I was easily capable of college level algebra by age 14 or so, and probably had enough basic understanding of sciences and language to proceed straight to training that would be useful in a wide array of practical career functions. However, there were still 4 years of high school, and another couple minimum for college before positions would even consider me. This is true for a lot of students to varying degrees. Age/maturity plays a role too, so kids wouldn't necessarily be ready to function in the professional world immediately...however there's no reason they shouldn't be focusing their efforts. You could change your mind several times over and STILL come out ready sooner than people do today.
     
  15. LightFang

    LightFang "I'm the hero!"

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    Where did I say that? :confused:
     
  16. Orange Seeds

    Orange Seeds playing with cymbals

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    I went to a secondary school that was about 60% 1st or second generation Asian immigrants and it is also the highest academically scoring public school in the province. But to be honest, none of the people that were successful really knew anything about what they were studying and now that I've moved on to UBC i realize that most of the 'overachievers' in high school are doing incredibly poorly.

    The above does have a point--I think its more of a cultural thing, a recent one, that chinese students in my area are pressured far too much by their parents and end up crashing. I've always suspected that high suicide rates and the 'hikikomori' phenomena in Japan is a result of this. I have a feeling that as the Chinese economy inevitably slows they will have many of the same problems.

    To be honest i want no part of anything as meritocratic as Asian education systems. I was a slacker all the way through high school and i concentrated my energy on writing, music and reading which i now see as critical parts of my intellectual development, for which public school was inadequate. I'm now in the top 5% of my university classes--If i lived in China, i would be a labourer.
     
  17. Ecofarm

    Ecofarm Chieftain

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    Where are you? Except they had it 10+ years before China and it is still barely equal to the US, for the very elite only. Let's face it, if someone from China can come and live in the US, they weren't farmers.
    Hello. I was using 1980 to demonstrate the negligable impact of a 1st or 2nd generation parent upon a student today, let alone a 1st generation student who would have come from the economic elite anyway, and should have a schooling similar to the average American's.

    But the average Chinese parent has less than 9 years of schooling. Great system.
     
  18. Theige

    Theige American Baron

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    Specialization is much more important in the U.S. What really gets us our job here is the education we receive at our Universities.

    I was reading recently that the widening of the gap between the US and the rest of the world, especially Europe, during the 1980's and 90's could be attributed to our University system; and our comparatively increased preparedness for the "knowledge economy."
     
  19. Teeninvestor

    Teeninvestor Chieftain

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    YOu realize there wasn't a system 30 years ago, eh? There was a guy called Mao in charge... and he wasn't exactly the greatest guy in the world. Some guy called Deng came in after and cleaned up his mess.
     
  20. Ecofarm

    Ecofarm Chieftain

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    If the parents lack a decent education, then your culture argument falls apart. They are not building upon proven success academically, nor in regard to critical mind development.
     

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