The researchers found that Chinese 6-year-old children crushed American peers in terms of early math skills, including geometry and logic. In the past 10 years, Shanghai children have won the world’s first place in the international student assessment program, while American students are only in the middle class.
When Chinese children go abroad, their studies are surprising. They occupy more and more seats in the world’s top universities. According to the International Education Association, the number of Chinese undergraduates admitted to the Ivy League colleges is eight times that of a decade ago. In addition, there are many start-ups helped by the Chinese in Silicon Valley.
However, I personally held some serious objections to Chinese education. In China, children are subject to stake-taking tests everywhere, so they have to bury their books when they are toddlers.
I can’t help but wonder: What kind of price does the Chinese have paid to cultivate what they call “smart” children? Is this rigid and authoritarian school education a reference for us?
I have put a child in the school education system in China. It has been five years now. During this period, I also exchanged with Chinese teachers, parents and students at different stages of education. I have found that China does have some “secrets” that are worthy of us to follow. Mainly some attitudes towards education.
The mentality of “the teacher knows the most” does have its benefits. Obeying the Chinese system makes me feel anxious, but in the process of this anxiety, I began to notice that when the parents are in line with the teacher, the children will be like this. This obedience to respect makes the teacher have almost absolute control over the classroom. My son became very afraid of being late, absent from class, or disappointed the teacher. When I was planning a family trip, I asked him to take a few days of class. He was so loud and noisy. At the time, he was only 5 years old.
According to a 2004 study of 112 third- and fourth-grade students published in Psychology, teachers have unquestionable authority in the classroom, which is beneficial to students’ learning geometry and computer programming. For such courses, The teaching effect of direct teaching (rather than student-led exploration and discovery) is more significant. Other studies have shown that for first-year students who are not strong in mathematics, the teacher can show the problem-solving steps and then practice repeatedly to produce better learning results.
In contrast, teachers in Western countries spend a lot of time managing mini-confrontation between classes, uniform students, and parents. Zhang Xin, who is now teaching Chinese in a high school in Minnesota, came to the United States 20 years ago to recall the surprise she had when she taught American children in the first year. She said: “At the beginning, I was very high pressure, but I didn’t care. The students actually talked back to me!” If she has too many homework assignments, parents sometimes complain. Once a child did not complete the homework, her mother asked Zhang Xin to change the way she talked to her daughter. “She wants me to say to her daughter, ‘you can do better!’ instead of ‘you have not finished this!’”
Parents in China believe that any child assignments that the teacher confesses should be completed without any words. In other words, let the teacher perform his or her duties. As a result, educators receive the highest level of respect in China: research shows that half of Chinese are willing to encourage children to be teachers, compared to less than one-third of the Anglo-American. Chinese society gives teachers the same social status as doctors. Another pillar of the Chinese creed is that hard work is more important than talent for academics. China’s school education system fosters Chinese perseverance: they emphasize to students day after day that perseverance—not intelligence or talent—is the key to success.