A Crash Course on the Chinese Education System

A Crash Course on the Chinese Education System
Jul 24, 2012 By Jessie Chien , eChinacities.com

A Crash Course on the Chinese Education System
Photo: en.ce.cn

"Benjamin Franklin said, 'early to bed and early to rise, can make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.'"

A class of forty 11- and 12-year olds stood at attention with their heads held up towards the ceiling, eyes straight ahead and hands at their sides, reciting a passage from memory. This was just a peek I had at an English summer camp in one of China's largest cities, where students were enrolled for an intensive 10 days of English training. Starting with morning exercises at 7:00 and ending with oral testing around 8:30, these students were drilled with rote memorization of inspirational (and often nationalistic) quotes and proper elocution of English passages.

At the end of the 10-day camp, after the closing ceremonies, kids wept with grief as they were pulled apart from their classmates and new friends. They exchanged QQ numbers and promised to keep in touch with each other during the next school year. As they returned to their hometowns – some as far as Zhengzhou, Wuhan, and Jiangsu – I recognized what was genuine sadness as they departed campus. In the course of 10 days, in the form of endless hours of studying, memorization, practice, and testing, education in China was purposefully, deeply engrained in their lives.

Education in China today is a serious matter, to parents, students, teachers, government, and everyone alike. Western views often consider Chinese methods such as rote memorization and the intensive focus on hard sciences and mathematics as too strict, too inflexible, and with too much pressure placed on students. Class time and study time are indeed less a priority in the U.S., where students are also more involved in after-school activities. But in a recent international study, the United States was placed 15th in reading, 23rd in science, and 31st in math. Guess who topped the charts in all three? China.

The Chinese must be doing some things right. Here's a look at the successes and shortcomings of the Chinese educational system.

Government reforms

From the instating of national examinations in 1977, to the recognition of 'special education' in 1985, to as late as 1998 when the development of world-class higher education truly began in China, the government has been active in engaging its youth. It has tried to strike balances between normal secondary education and vocational training, to provide a balanced economy, allowing re-urbanization and modern industrialization. China has done remarkably well in moulding its system according to the times – especially compared to attempted reforms in other political arenas such as food safety or free speech.

It is no secret that education, and the discipline that comes with it, is a prized facet of the Chinese culture. School is mandatory from grades 1-9, with an estimated 80% attendance rate for primary and middle school. The ministry of education has estimated there are about 200 million elementary and high school students, which equates to 1/6 of China's population. That is one large student body.

Since education reforms began in the late 70's, the Chinese educational system has made great strides to constantly ensure its economy and population benefit from education and its ensuing opportunities. China spends 1.9% of its GDP on education, and since 1999 spending has increased a whopping 20% every year. This can be compared to the UK, where a mere 0.7% of its GDP is spent on education. Under today's laws, mandatory education for primary and middle school is free, though parents generally pay nominal fees for books and uniforms- and more for preschool (starting at age 3), extracurricular activities, and tutoring classes. Even those in remote villages have access to education, as 95.2 percent of all elementary schools, 87.6 percent of junior high schools and 71.5 percent of senior high schools are in rural areas.

Between 1999 and 2003, enrolment in higher education increased from 1.6 million to 3.82 million. In 2010, China estimated 6.3 million students to graduate from college or university, with about 63% entering the workforce. Though China has its own problems with over-educated job applicants and white collar job shortages for a more educated working class, it nevertheless continues to improve its place in the world of business, finance, and technology by means of educating its population.

Zhongkao and gaokao testing

In primary school, even the youngest of children are in class for over eight hours each day, with a rigorous curriculum of math and Chinese making up 60% of class time. General knowledge of politics and "moral training" cannot be forgotten, and schools place an importance on teaching love for the motherland, love of the party, and love of the people. Meanwhile, humanities classes such as nature, history, and geography make up a mere 8% of class time. Starting from grade 3, students begin to learn English, which has become an important part of Chinese education.

Further along a students' academic career, the testing process becomes the most emphasized and widely acknowledged facet of Chinese education. After primary school, to exit out of each grade, students are required to pass testing. If they do not pass on the first try, they are allowed to test again, but repeated failures can unfortunately mean the end of a child's education.

The zhongkao examination determines the high school a student may attend. Admission to high schools is similar to admission to university, and there are top high schools in every city along with the bad. Once in high school, a student will spend the next three years preparing for the gaokao, which is overseen by the China Ministry of Education and determines college admissions. Every student must be processed by the Ministry of Education in order to attend a school of higher learning. This is perhaps the most famous illustration of the importance and sacrifices of test taking in China. Held every June for high school students finishing their senior year of secondary school, test results are a direct indicator of where a student will attend, if they will attend, university. An entire career of education culminates in one single test, which takes over the course of 2-3 days in June. Chinese, mathematics, and a foreign language (often times English) are the main testing subjects, with six other supplementary subjects in science and humanities also tested.

The gaokao is essentially the only criteria for attending higher education in China. A successful score means an applicant can attend the university of his or her choosing.  Thus, students in their last year of high school spend most of their waking hours studying for the exam. Many forego all extracurricular activities in favour of studying for the test, and teachers begin to proctor practice tests early in the year.

The Chinese methods

Chinese testing methods, like its study methods, are a very touchy subject that can easily be misinterpreted by Western society's more laissez-faire approach to education. Imagine the difference between a Chinese school system and a Western school system. In the U.S., for example, students are in class for six to seven hours a day, at most. Curriculum stresses a liberal arts education, meaning history, social sciences, literature, and physical education are given just as much time as math and hard sciences.   

The do-well-or-be-shamed mentality on testing and classroom curriculum may seem extreme. As a direct result of the zhongkao and gaokao, many classrooms place grave emphasis on testing abilities, and not enough on innovation and creativity. But, this is a subject that doesn't only plague China. Plenty of outdated and controversial standardized testing occurs in countries other than China, none better exemplified than the 'No Child Left Behind' policy in the United States.

Chinese adults, educators, and students also aren't completely ignorant to the problems within their system. Students I have talked to complain about the endless rote memorization techniques (though they know better than to diverge from that system). Young Chinese adults have wished their education system would include more innovation and creative outlets that can make them more competitive in the world today. I've had fellow Westerners who are English teachers tell stories of students who seek them out after class to discuss issues of stress and anxiety- topics that they dare not discuss with their Chinese teachers.

The good news is that the late 2000's saw even more reform of university and higher learning system. In 2007, Fudan University as well as Shanghai Communications University became the first of China's colleges to accept independent recruitment, outside of the College Entrance Examinations. Additionally, since 1999, the number of Chinese applicants to top schools overseas has increased tenfold. China's students and teachers are starting to realize there are options out there for education.

The future for Chinese education is looking a little more promising, with dreams of slightly less testing and memorization and a little more innovation. There are certainly areas that the Chinese can stand to improve. But in more cases than not, for the benefit of the future generations, perhaps a rigorous academic stance should be an approach more Western countries should consider.

Related links
A Chinese Teacher's Perspective: China and the U.S. Education Systems Compared
Netizens React to Peking University President Criticising U.S. Education
5 (Harsh) Things China Can't Live Without

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Keywords: Chinese education gaokao China Chinese students problems China education


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Some students end up at some random university studying a course they have no interest in purely because that's what they are supposed to do.

Oct 12, 2015 11:13 Report Abuse



"Though China has its own problems"??? I would bet that the writer has never seen the Chinese education system first hand; this article is mild at best in an attempt to show both sides of a very clearly one sided system. Talk about riding the fence and spewing pages of empty nonsense.

Jun 06, 2015 18:22 Report Abuse



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Feb 19, 2015 23:37 Report Abuse


G Hudson

I have been teaching English in China for three years now, and can safely say that the standard varies a lot depending on where you are.

I have seen middle schools students studying the answers to a test for a week before sitting the test. I have spoken with high school students whose teacher had given them as homework the questions for next week's test.

Sure they can remember things very well but ask them for their own ideas and you get the blank eyed look of a Barbie doll.

Here's a prime example

I taught: Headache, cold and stomach ache. I also taught "When I have a cold, I take medicine"

We practiced this for 20 mins along with a short dialogue that was in their book. Next I introduced 'ear ache'.

"What do you do when you have an ear ache?"

Nothing.... They couldn't make the connection because ear ache was not in their book. Their teacher even stood up and told me that this was too difficult as it wasn't in the book and they hadn't practiced it. Seriously, how hard is it to replace the word 'cold' with 'ear ache'?

I have a thousand examples like this. Students can recite a 200 word passage from a book by memory but ask them a question about it and they have nothing. My favorite however, is to ask them - middle school students - if they like Japan. They will all say no. Then ask them to show you Japan on a map..... It's grown a lot since I went to school and is now where New Zealand used to be!

Nov 13, 2012 22:56 Report Abuse



I don't know. From what I know, the gaokao system can be very complicated. There are regional differences in not only the content of the test, but also things like maximum scores possible. In addition, students are tested in either the humanities or the sciences, but not both (it depends on their intended majors in college, though Chinese language, math and a foreign language are the mandatory subjects). And it is not totally based on rote memorization either, for there is an essay on the Chinese language portion of the test, and I have seen some recent essay questions and they can be quite interesting! I also believe if done right, standardized test can be very useful, so it is not all bad.

Aug 04, 2012 16:49 Report Abuse



When I was in grade school I do remember learning adding and multiplication by rote memory. Some things are best learned that way. But I also sincerely believe that educators can teach children how to study properly. I didn't learn how to study properly until I was in graduate school and I found that my memory, retention and understanding improved significantly. I actually spent less time studying than I did when I was an undergraduate. How did I do it? I attended a 30 minute lecture called "How to get an A in any subject" given by a psychology professor. She told us how our brain works to put things into permanent memory. I followed her instructions explicitly. My lowest score that first semester in grad school was 95 and my highest was 99. I was taking 16 hours at the time and studied about 2.5 hours per evening. I was also 52 year old at the time. The difference between undergrad years and graduate was I learned how to study properly. I wish someone had told me this when I was an undergraduate. I could have used the same techniques in high school too.

Jul 26, 2012 08:29 Report Abuse



One of the problems I have seen, is that many Chinese universities have no accreditation system like universities in the west. I think this would help even out the number of students trying to get into universities here; universities having the same programs should all have the same standards. Chinese students applying to western universities also do not understand that in places like the US and Europe, a college or university that is accredited in some program meets the same requirements for education that the well known universities meet that have the same accreditation. They do not seem to understand that they can get the same or in some cases, a more personalized experience by going to a smaller university. If western accreditation was better understood in China then you would likely see fewer graduates from only the big name universities and more from a larger cross-section of other universities. Just because a university education costs a fortune it doesn't make it better.
If you are Chinese and you are majoring in Finance you want to go to Northwestern? Why only there? It is not the only university in the US that has the same accreditation. Northwestern is ranked highly because they have paid for the ranking that people see in magazines like Forbes through advertizing. If your Chinese and you want to pursue engineering there are many excellent universities you can attend. All have to meet the same accreditation from the one accreditation body for engineering in the US and accreditation cannot be bought..

Jul 26, 2012 08:13 Report Abuse


Hugh G Rection

Funnily enough recently in the UK the government has allowed the setting up of independent schools, these schools have to fill various criteria, but once they do they are funded directly from government and do not have to follow the national curriculum. A significant majority of these are organised by parents (often middle class but not exclusively so by any means). One of the common themes amongst these schools is a strong desire to return to knowledge based, tested 3Rs learning, often with latin and classical studies. i.e. a return to the 'old ways'. This appears to be what parents want and with industry and universities saying the students coming out of schools are just NOT prepared in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic for a live in employment or higher education they appear to have a point.

I think the Chinese system has a lot of positive aspects and a fair few negative ones. Positives, a concentration on knowledge, and getting the basics right. Negatives, corruption and cheating. I think the creativity, or lack of, is overplayed, that could be introduced at University level once the high schools have taught the level of knowledge of the facts required to use creatively.

So, in my opinion, the Chinese system has a lot of problems, but they need to take care not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Jul 25, 2012 22:40 Report Abuse


tattered tales

I only wish public schools in USA could teach kids to be half as literate in one language as Chinese students are in two or more. However I'm not so sure this is a failure of the American education system as it is a failure of family values. Allow kids 4 hours of TV/computer games/un-monitored web surfing and of course the kids become passive receptors of continual entertainment.
However from what I've seen 10 to 14 hours of book learning and studying isn't the answer either. If anything it seems it exacerbates this problem. Kids without any chance to make a single choice of their own are doomed to be mere superficial spectators of their own lives.
To Chinese parents and educators I would suggest taking away the mobile phones from your kids and give them a doll, a can or a ball, then tell them to play and to American parents read a book to or with you kids. The alternative is a world where machines decide our futures.

Jul 24, 2012 22:09 Report Abuse



The Western system is so good that it took them, ("educators" parents etc), to realise that the students going to University were actually illiterate, so (in Australia) they had to implement the three "R" back into the school system, especially the state schools. Try and have a conversation with a twenty plus person and you might see what I mean. Of course the young people aren't to blame, it's the "educators" who dictate, what students, and how students should learn. I can't understand why people think young people are so smart, when they lack the basics. When I went to school (private) like DD, we had to learn in all sorts of ways, rote, reading, writing about the topics or subject, responsibility respect etc. The one thing we didn't do was learn the exams the way they do now. I only saw an exam paper at exam time! To the detractors, what can a young person teach you?

Jul 24, 2012 20:46 Report Abuse



There is a reason why countries all over the world are moving away from standardized testing. In addition to the usual arguments against standardized testing, in China, the stress put on testing is so great that teachers (with a bonus system tied to student test scores) are known for helping the students cheat. Supplying the students with the test answer sheet in order to study the night before the test is cheating. Sadly, the Chinese system promotes cheating and uniform collectivism. I feel sorry for the truly gifted Chinese children who's potential world-changing talents are eradicated because they are "out-of-step" with the Chinese education system.

Admission to college based on one big test is archaic. Go to any top level University's website and look at the admission requirements. They all stress over and over again the importance of extracurricular activities and accomplishments. No one outside of China cares about the damn Gaokao.

Jul 24, 2012 17:24 Report Abuse



"I feel sorry for the truly gifted Chinese children whose potential world-changing talents are eradicated because they are 'out-of-step' with the Chinese education system."

So so so right.

Now and then I see a first-year university student with that spark of creative impulse or brilliance, or a kind of mischievous independence of thought.

The education system's role is to extinguish any spark utterly before students enter the workforce.

Jul 24, 2012 19:05 Report Abuse



The comments by the three eductors were good and accurate from one that has taught seven years in Chinese universities, Chinese Universities' English Colleges and International Divisions, and English classes. The problem with the Chinese teaching situation is the lack of participation of foreign teachers' inability to present course material and course criticism to their supervisors. Textbooks are often chosen by foreign university partners that have cultural presentations that Chinese students do not have time to learn. Often the books are not representative of the laws governing the subject in the foreign country and which are not used in China. One university had four third-year accounting classes for students with one year of accounting, which could be lectured. I found that a study guide in financial accounting was the better to teach from, because it presented the situations and did not have foreign applications that are not practiced in China. I often presented exercises that taught the accounting principals and paired good students with those having the most difficulty, resulting in both of them to understand the material.

Often Chinese that migrate to the United States still live as if they were still in China, but enjoy easier living conditions. They defend China continually, not knowing that it is not necessaary. Different nationality groups stick together and do not study with those from different cultures. This situation produces many computer science majors that do not know enough accounting and financial knowledge for them to be good programmers.
The Chinese population and the American population do not have enough accounting and finance knowledge to support financial markets and to budget their own earnings. This is the main problem for the economic situation in each country.

Jul 24, 2012 16:02 Report Abuse



I'm a little surprised that you somehow deduced that computer programmers are somehow related to the main cause of economic conditions in China and the USA. Interesting perspective, but I'm not sure I follow your logic.

You said, "Different nationality groups stick together and do not study with those from different cultures. This situation produces many computer science majors that do not know enough accounting and financial knowledge for them to be good programmers. The Chinese population and the American population do not have enough accounting and finance knowledge to support financial markets and to budget their own earnings."

I'm not quite sure I understand your point here. Perhaps you can expand a little. Are you talking only about Computer programmers? Are you talking about the general population? Or, are you talking about the existence of financial knowledge anywhere in both populations?

Jul 26, 2012 02:10 Report Abuse



I am saying that the entire populations of the United States and in China do not study accounting and finance and therefore do not the financial markets and how different business function. With this knowledge better use of the money earned by the citizens would produce a more stable economic situation for each country. To help solve this situation, middle schools need to teach accounting and finance during mathematic classes. The nightly study session between 6:00 and 9:00 PM would be a good time to teach the accounting and mathematics of an organization. This presentation could involve include the parents through take home exercises. The flow of money with respect to the balance sheet is counter-clock wise and presents the relationships and operations of different parts of the organization. Get a copy of Financial Accounting, Second Edition, Schaum's Outlines, McGraw-Hill to learn basic accounting that is not heavy with national laws. Use of this material would teach the functions of an organization, which would help one choose the part of the organization the enjoy. Financial Management, Third Edition will provide financial information that one can apply to evaluating firms to be invested in. Prices are less than $20.00 from McGraw-Hill and Amazon.
I have an MS Accountancy, Financial from California State University, Fresno (One of the top universities in the system), taught in a World Bank MBA Project for the University of Somalia, learned four computer languages, and worked on several private company accounting projects where I was correcting the errors of programers that did not understand the functions of a business. On one factory budget editing project there were three logic errors made by the original programmer that caused it to yield false information. I corrected the three errors and the strike overs to produce the first every correct budget forcast.
When one goes to an investment broker, he or she is given what the broker wants to give them. It may be to sale what the broker does not want or what the broker will make the most income on the investment. The wealthy are charged special information service charges and receive the best and highest investment return securities. When one understands the financial situation, he or she can often know that the investment is not good or that the return on investment is too low for the risk.
I hope that I have helped you and maybe businessmen that do not understand accounting that may control benefits, profits and losses.

Jul 26, 2012 06:29 Report Abuse



I would agree with the statement that most people do not have basic knowledge of Finance and Accounting unless they've studied it. It is true that high schools in the USA do not put enough emphasis on teaching personal finance. Teaching simple things such as balancing a checkbook, understanding how to convert APR into the Effective Annual Rate, and knowing how to calculate their Holding Period Return on investments would be useful in everyday life.

I've noticed in China, the banks assume that the people are mostly ignorant of the difference between simple and compound interest rates. So instead they just omit the details of their calculation methods and give their customers the Annual Percentage Yield. I guess this is actually better because the customers’ can easily calculate the money they are making. However, credit card companies in China are just as bad as credit card companies anywhere. For example, my wife was given two repayment options over the phone. One was presented to her as an interest rate on the balance compounded monthly, and the other was presented to her as a better option to avoid paying interest, but instead she would be charged a smaller flat monthly service fee for the duration of time she carried the credit card debt. On the surface, the flat service fee looked and sounded like the cheaper option. However, after I showed her how to build an amortization table, she realized that the CC company deceived her into paying more over the three months. So, the point is, simpler options are not always better. Banks are one of the oldest businesses in the world, and are very powerful entities that influence both politics and economics. It is not a surprise to me that banks are allowed to “hide” the truth in plain sight through convoluting the calculation process. So, if the curriculums in all countries could include some finance basics, I think that there wouldn’t be as big of an issue with today’s consumer debt getting out of control. In college, our student organization called the Financial Management Association use to work in coordination with some of the local high schools to educate the students about personal finance. In addition, there are numerous non-profit organizations that also offer free consulting and education to consumers about their financial standing. However, more still needs to be done.

Having basic knowledge about finance is definitely a necessity in today’s world. I also agree that any field of study (including computer programming) should include some basic finance and accounting training, because every decision made by any employee does impact the rest of the company’s performance. Good stuff FN.

Jul 26, 2012 21:10 Report Abuse



Sorry but I wanted to add one more thing. I really don't think we can blame computer programmers for our world's financial woes. Instead, (and this is going to sound racist, but it is an undisputed fact in history), really we can blame the Jews for our current system. They are responsible for laying the foundation of our current banking system. Here's why. A long time ago, Christians were banned from being bankers because it was considered a sin to charge interest. The term is called "usury." Therefore, the Jewish community (having a different belief system), became the bankers. I love the Jewish community, but those SOB's are damn clever when it comes to money. They've done a fine job at building up our current banking system. Einstein himself believed that compounding interest rates was one of the most powerful and dangerous inventions of man. The classic example, which would you rather receive? 1 million dollars today, or 1 penny today doubling for the next 30 days? Do the math and you soon realize the power of exponential functions.

Jul 26, 2012 21:53 Report Abuse



I was not saying that computer programers are at fault fore the mistakes in finance. I am saying that their lack of knowledge of accounting causes them to set up programs to control the operations of organizations that are not true and therefore not as effective. Too many Chinese managers do not understand accounting and use hippocket methods to evaluate their operations. American owners and managers of small firms have the same problem of lack of accounting knowledge. This often produces losses that could have been prevented. As I passed a very nice hotel, three businessmen in very nice clothes: "He thinks we should learn accounting."
The chinese have been doing business in Southeast Asia more than 5,000 years without accounting using hippocket methods of what they would gain.
The Jews were the main bankers in Europe during the Middle Ages. They provided the depositing of money earned from traveling merchants, say in Paris, France to be picked up from a Jewish banker in Melano, Italy for a fee. The Jewish families married their children among the banking familes. If one goes to Malocca, Malaysia, there are still Chinese trading family organization and a very interesting old Budist temple. One can not study past century banking pratices that were fairly simple with today's practices. Also, I think you are mixing up the Muslem practice of no interest can be payed on a banking transaction with the practices of the Christian religion. Teaching Finance in Mogadishu, Somalia, my students complained that no interest could be charged. I explained they were government employees and they would have to use interest to evaluate loan conditions with the World Bank. This stopped their objection to using interest in evaluations.

Jul 27, 2012 13:23 Report Abuse



I don't have enough knowledge about the Muslim religion and their belief about interest rates. What you say is probably true as well. I am 100% certain that the "church" throughout Europe banned the use of interest rates. It is well documented in history. I usually don't refer people to reference Wikipedia for factual knowledge, but in this case, Wikipedia does a fairly good job at describing some of the history behind "usury." So you can look it up if you want, and there's about 50 links to other references as well.

Jul 29, 2012 06:36 Report Abuse



I remember back in the 'good old days' of my education which included corporal punishment, learning poetry and multiplication tables by rote and having drummed into me religion and nationalistic quotes on top of being insanely prepared for end of year testing. In my days we were also offered the option of sitting for Government scholarships for which we were given practice tests and many of the questions in those were present in the final exam. That was 50 years ago! I teach in Chinese schools and it's basically a blast from the past. The desk arrangements, the subject material and the power of the teacher. You know, that wasn't a bad way to learn and I would pit myself against any current Western country graduate in a spelling, grammar and mental arithmetic.
It's very true about the lack of creative thinking among not only the Chinese students but Chinese in general but I am guessing that this problem also has a lot to do with hundreds of years of culture and custom as well as the education system. The other day I challenged the kids to an exercise. I wrote 10 words on the board and asked them to create a short story in their minds and to use the 10 words. Surprisingly one student from 25 was able to do it! In general, during classes, creative writing and formation of independently thought out sentences are not strong points with the students. But I conceded that for me to do the same in Chinese is also hard.
In my humble opinion I think the desire of wanting to know more and learn more by the students in general will lead to a change in subjects offered and as they improve their English they will discover a new world out there. For those changes to occur there must be change in the thinking of teachers and the drivers of the education system as well.
With regard to the comment about people in different countries not knowing a lot about other countries just cast your mind back to a show they had on in the USA where they asked 10 passers-by in New York a question about the location of another large country and only 1 out of the 10 got it right! It's a matter of interest really. If you are interested in other countries you will read about them, want to travel and watch the news. If you have no interest then you don't care and your own little world will suffice!
Might I add that it's up to us as teachers to start sowing some seeds of 'thinking outside the box' in young and fertile minds.

Jul 24, 2012 14:58 Report Abuse



Yes,all depends on the mindset of the people.If the way they are taught is changed,everything will change.
I also challenged my students to write a short story on a single sheet.Each student should continue from where his fellow classmate left off.To my surprise,they told me they can't write.They can't do it.
I found they are good at memorization.Another time if you ask them questions from what they have memorized,they will just gaze at you.
They are simply not critical thinkers.They can't analyze.I find it strange.I think they are like robots.

Jul 25, 2012 03:34 Report Abuse



I've been backpacking in China twice recently and have been very surprised that the Chinese in general can't think in the abstract. Everything is Black or White!! Maybe due to the Matriarchal system where bye the Mother does everything. We have a Chinese friend whop was unable to even boil an egg at 27. It was not until she went to Uni in the States that she found out how to stand on her own two feet.

Jul 26, 2012 08:43 Report Abuse



It is funny, but in three different schools and even with my assistants, I have tried to teach the notion of rhyme to Chinese. The students didn't get it. Cat,bat,run,sun.. translation with the Chinese word for rhyme..no. Bringing in Chinese assistant educated in US to explain it in Chinese..no. Still can't write a simple two line rhym. Gash doesn't e en come near what I'm describing.

Jul 26, 2012 21:19 Report Abuse



China topped the charts in all three? sorry to say that, but that doesn't mean Chinese students mastered any knowledge, it only means they mastered texting. We (I use "we" here coz I'm Chinese) have been trained from a very young age to obtain high marks in texts. I remember my mom onced told me so and so was a good teacher, because she is a good guesser of wha't on the exam. Does that mean she helped student gain high marks? Yes. Does that mean she helped student gain good understanding of the subject? Not necessary.
Even though I am a Chinese, but I have to say I have little faith on Chinese education system. I'm not saying there's nothing good about it at all, it's fine for younger kids, when they still on the stage of memorizing written characters and math formula; but for college and university students, they should know better than copying standard answers. But well, I will be surprised for a govenment appricates full control and oppress people's free will, would implement critical thinking in its education system.

Jul 24, 2012 12:47 Report Abuse


Alex Schofield

What the test results of Chinese students prove is that testing alone is completely inadequate to gauge the abilities of students and the superiority of an education system. I have been a teacher here for three years and it amazes me how little Chinese students know about the world outside China, and their completely inability to think creatively or critically will do themselves absolutely no favors in a world that will increasingly rely on innovation due to progress toward a knowledge economy. Educated Chinese are more than aware of the shortcomings of the education their children receive, which is why the ones who can afford it will do anything to gain their child an overseas education. The fact that Western governments are admiring the Chinese system is just proof that they can't look beyond the surface.
On top of all this political indoctrination, plagiarism, outright cheating and corruption are present at all levels of the system. It is actively widening the countries problem with income inequality as well.

Jul 24, 2012 08:51 Report Abuse