A Chinese student discusses his opinion about the Chinese education system, in comparison to the U.S. system.
1. Could you please tell us something about the differences between the US education system and the Chinese one? And to what extent do you think that Chinese education has been Americanized?
American education system is looking for a student’s whole semester’s performance. For example, every task we have done in the whole semester counts in our final score so that American education system requires a student’s full devotement throughout the semester. In the contrary, Chinese education system is still on the stage where final exam takes up the most final scores which sometimes causing Chinese students only study for the final exam when the final is approaching. As a conclusion, every student is looking for a good final score; in another word; how the scores is made decides students’ learning process.
Secondly, compared with American education, Chinese education system relies more on the textbook mainly because the price is much cheaper than the American textbooks. Almost all the American college teachers have a syllabus informing students about all the assignments and class content for the class. This allows students to be more aware of their learning process.
However, I am happy to see Chinese colleges are trying to adapt American way. In my Chinese college, Sichuan International studies University, we are trying to split the final score to mid-term, final-tern and class performance. Teachers are exploring different teaching methods besides lecturing from the textbook; there are more group work and more feedback from the students.
2. Do you think that schools in China should emphasize English-language capacities in order to cultivate a sense of global citizenship? If not, how else can this sense of global citizenship be fostered, or should it be fostered at all?
Of course, I do think the English capabilities should be fostered during college because we are under the undeniable trend of globalization, which we have to prepare ourselves for to better communicate and cooperate with people all over the world. Besides, in today’s China, English skills are required in most jobs, so as a college student acquiring English capabilities is a must-do.
3. How do Chinese students balance the competing messages of the importance of grades vs. the inheritance of a socialist tradition? And, what should be the ultimate purpose of education from your perspective?
Actually, as a present Chinese college student, the inheritance of a socialist tradition barely comes into my mind. In think, nowadays’ students are being realistic and practical because the inheritance of a socialist tradition can’t guarantee a good job while good grades actually help to win the favor. So personally speaking I don’t see any conflicts between the two. I think the ultimate purpose of education is to teach students how to think and learn about themselves.
4. There is a trend in society. An increasing number of private institutes for Confucianism and other traditional Chinese arts is emerging everywhere in China. Some argue that they lack the capability to spread around Confucius doctrine as they are market-oriented, while others are glad to see their existence. What is your opinion? Do you see this is due to our formal education?
I think it is good to see the emergence of Confucianism institutes. And there are three simple but essential reasons: 1) bring Chinese Confucian culture to the world; 2) fulfill a market gap for people wishing to learn Chinese and 3) creating more working opportunities. And I think it is unjustified to argue the private Confucian institutes are market-oriented. In a finance perspective, compared to top universities in the world such as Harvard, Stanford, they are all run in market-oriented way and at the same time they strengthen the quality of teaching. For a long-term survival of Confucianism institutes, market-oriented is a better choice.
5. Do you see any incompatibility between Western pedagogue and Confucius teaching?
First of all, between the two, I concede the existence of few contradictions among which the most obvious is that western pedagogue welcomes the concept of challenging the authority while Confucius teaching is looking for abeyance and respect of authority. And I think we can adapt the advantage of the both: learning with strong resolution and having full interpretation of existing knowledge as Confucius teaching says, plus innovation as western pedagogue encourages.
6. What do you think is the effect of globalization on our education system?
With the globalization, I realize before college, most Chinese students are proud to claim themselves having a much more solid knowledge basis among the world’s students, but the situation is the opposed when it comes to College education; many people realize we have much to keep up with.
With the globalization, more and more Chinese students choose to study abroad which in a good way brings more advanced technologies, but in a negative way causes loss of intellectuals. Consequently, Chinese education system calls for a change.
7. What cultural shocks have you experienced both in China and US? And how did you interpret them?
In China, the cultural shock would always be the people; there are tons of people everywhere so it took me a little while to get used to the crowd after I got back. What’s more, there are regional culture shocks among China.
When I got to America, I found America is basically less urbanized than China because besides big city like NYC, LA, Chicago. Most state’s capital city is nothing like a real city. Moreover, without a vehicle, visitors like me find it hard to get themselves around since most places are lack public transportation. I think it attribute to the life-style of most American family because most of them having even their own vehicle and it make no profit for bus or taxi companies.
Another cultural shock is this country’s attitude towards alcohol. It’s weird that a country like China has no drinking age and has less of a drinking problem, compared to America, which does have many restrictions have been legislated. I think it is an issue dated back to the “Prohibition,” so drinking issue might have been rooted from the culture and history.