The Chinese Education System
Education is a crucial and essential component that is needed in order for a human being to be prosperous and successful. It contributes to the development of a person’s identity and potentials. I am very fortunate to have experienced the education systems of both China and the United States. From my experiences, I became aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the education system of China.
Chinese conservatives and traditionalists believe that a model student is one who is able to acquire copious amounts of knowledge through pure memorization. On the other hand, Chinese liberals are strongly opposed to the traditional style of teaching which is purely based on rote. Instead, they advocate and promote Western teaching styles which encourage creativity and originality. In China, schools are manipulative devices used by the Communist government to increase its power over society and to regulate and control the minds of the people. From first grade to senior year of college, the Department of Education dictates the curriculum to be taught at every level. In China, the students are compelled to memorize copious amounts of facts and knowledge.
Creativity and “outside-the-box” thinking are strongly discouraged by traditional teachers. For example, if a Chinese student was given a complex and intricate physics problem to solve, he or she could easily obtain the answer. However, if the same student was asked to explain how the answer was formulated or why the answer is what it is, he or she would find it to be an extremely difficult task. In China, students are taught that there is only one right answer and that any answer other than the one in the book is considered to be wrong. Chinese liberals fervently oppose government indoctrinations in the education system. They promote and advertise the education systems of the Western world which endorse creativity and originality.
Chinese liberals believe that teachers should encourage their students to formulate answers that are thoughtful and unique instead of to recite answers from books based on memorization. They argue that the Chinese government indoctrinations severely limit and hinder people’s abilities to achieve their full potentialities and that although students’ minds are stimulated, their characters and spirits are not cultivated or nourished. From time immemorial, the Chinese people believed that an education based on knowledge is the most important factor needed to be successful. The traditional Chinese culture values those who are “intelligent” and those who are able obtain high academic standings. To this day, many still believe that only those who academically excel in school are able to have a successful future.
Chinese conservatives have adopted the idea of “rugged individualism.” They believe that only those who are talented may continue to college and succeed in life and those who are less capable are not worth the troubles. Because of this, many parents place high expectations and pressures upon their children. In their senior year of high school, students must take the “Gao Kao Exam”, the National College Entrance Exam which is equivalent to the SATs in the United States. When analyzing applicants, the “Gao Kao” test score is the sole factor considered by colleges.
Therefore, even if an intelligent student has moral character and strong leadership skills, he or she will not be considered by colleges if the test score is not outstanding or exceptional. Chinese liberals are infuriated by the injustices present in the education system. They believe that all students should have equal opportunities for education and that those who are less capable should be helped and assisted so that they may also continue to college. Liberals advocate for an education system where college acceptance does not depend solely upon test scores and academic achievements. There are severe shortages of human and educational resources in China today. Typically, a class of forty to sixty students is taught by one teacher.
Unlike teachers of the Western world, most teachers of China have at most a bachelor’s degree. The teachers who have obtained a master’s degree or even a PhD can only be found at the best schools in major flourishing cities. This implies that students who live in impoverished rural areas receive substandard and poor-quality education. Traditionalists fully support schools in major flourishing cities to display the intellectual and academic advancements of China. However, Chinese liberals argue that it is necessary to promote and improve the education system of the entire country to benefit everyone.
They believe that only by improving the education system will China truly be academically advanced. The education system is a relatively controversial topic of China today. Traditionalists refuse to compromise with the “radical” demands of the liberals due to the influence of the traditional culture and the fear of the Communist government. Time and effort are required in order for the two groups to reach a compromise. I believe that the simplest solution is to employ foreign teachers and educators of the Western world. Through employing foreign educators, Chinese teachers and professors would be exposed to new ideas and new methods of teaching.
While it plants the seeds of new ideas into the Chinese education system and culture, this introduction of Western concepts and philosophies does not threaten or jeopardize the traditional values of conservatives. By improving and enhancing the education system, the conditions and circumstances of the Chinese people as well as the Chinese government would also advance.