Chinese education vs.U.S. education

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This is a funny video about a author who had lived in HK for a while and talks about the Chinese education and the American education.

Yes, there are lots of differences between the HK education and mainland education, but HK education could still be a window to through which to take a peek of the landscape of the Chinese education system.

Krassel mentioned that Chinese students know more about America or the western world than the American students do about China or other parts of the world, which I am starting to realize this after I have begun studying in the U.S. When my American friends asked me about China, I was always surprised that they seldom knew any history of my country. On the other side,  I do know the basic timeline of how America evolved and many occurrences in great details. I dont want to say this is the result of the arrogance of the Western dominance, however it does reflect some holes in what American kids are learning in the classrooms.

The math talk has always been there: how American schools are lagging way behind China in terms of students’ math exam scores. This is hardly surprising given how much time and efforts Chinese schools put in math education. For some reason, math is almost the most important subject in Chinese schools. I still remember when I was in high school, my classmates and I would go to our math teachers’ house for private lessons on the weekends. These private lessons are seemingly optional, but when almost everyone in your class goes, you have to go so that you wont get left behind.

In case you havent heard of the Chinese college entrance exam, it is this once a year national exam that almost all the Chinese high school juniors (Chinese high schools operate on a three-year system) take to go to colleges. It is similar to SAT, however, the scores students get on this exam is the only selective criteria that universities look at when admitting students. Given the extremely large number of students participating the exam, and how few good universities there are in comparison, the competition could be ungodly furious. I still remember during the winter time of my high school junior year, I hardly saw the sunlight on my way to and from school, since I had to get to school before sunrise and get home so late into the night.

However, hard work has its payoffs. Even Malcolm Gladwell mentioned in his book The Outliers about how the scores of students improved dramatically in schools that increased the days and hours they keep their students in the classrooms. Gladwell did also mention that the single syllable Chinese pronunciation for numbers make it easier for Chinese people to grasp the master of  numbers and math, whereas the slightest numbering system in English hinders the quick learning of math. Something interesting to think about…

Chinese schools train students to formality. I do think this has something to do with the ideology of the Communism system, however, that could be a different topic. There’s usually only one answer for exam questions, and students are punished for stepping out of the box. Most students below the university level are required to wear uniforms, and some schools even require girls to wear short hair to avoid them being distracted by their long hair while studying. American schools do proved students with more space. The space, if utilized properly, is great fertilizer for creativity, however, if abused, a warm bed for troubles.

It is also observed that the quality of college education is China is far behind that of its American counterparts. The quality of American schools increases in a steady linear manner from kidder gardens to graduate schools, however, the quality of Chinese schools follow the increasing linear patter before college and drop into a cliff starting college. One speculation is that Chinese university professors care more about their own research and side jobs than teaching, since they tend to be significantly underpaid for their intellect. Tuition for Chinese universities is dirt cheap compared to American counterparts. My tuition for Zhejiang University, the third ranking in 2008, now the first ranking university in China, was about $2,000 for a whole academic year. So when I transferred about 50 credits to the University of Missouri, it was like I received a huge scholarship.

The logo of New York University Shanghai Branch

The logo of New York University Shanghai Branch

Although so many differences, I do see an convergence and even cooperation between the two education system. A lot of American schools are catching up on their math education, and Chinese universities are realizing there is a lot more to the assessment of a student than his or her exam scores. For example, I was admitted to Zhejiang University on their own selection system with their own tests and interviews, and Zhejiang University was one of the first, if not the first, to do so. A lot of American universities are establishing branches in China, for example, New York University opened a branch in Shanghai and became the first American university to have an independent registration system from the Chinese Department of Education.

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