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Is Western-style education best?

China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-14 07:04

It's good to know through a China Daily report that expenditure on education will increase by about 20 percent a year. But as a foreign teacher working in China, I wonder how the money will be spent and what the end results would be, because one can spend a lot of extra money without getting any additional benefit.

Since I have taught more than 1,000 Chinese students until now, I can say with confidence that Chinese students are smart and intelligent. They know how to study hard and for long hours. They also know how to endure long classes (I've seen some primary school classes being extended up to three hours). Children in the United States normally wouldn't sit through a class that is longer than 40-50 minutes.

Compared with their Chinese counterparts, American children get fewer instructions and far less homework from their teachers. Yet more than 200,000 Chinese students are attending college in the US and the number is growing by about 25 percent a year. In fact, in the next three years, the number of Chinese students studying in the US could touch 400,000.

It seems that in China, long or extra (often long) classes are synonymous with better education. Schools I've taught in take pride in adding classes, which are often long, to their timetable. In the West, parents, teachers and students would never accept this. Parents in the West wouldn't think of sending their children to school on a Saturday or Sunday. In China, though, it is very common.

Given the situation, should I conclude that the Western education system is better compared with the Asian system? Can we take or attend classes for more than 6.5 hours a day in the US? A day in school in China, in fact, could extend up to nine hours? Can we accomplish more (in the US) in education with fewer school hours? To be honest, I don't know the answers to the questions.

If the Western education system is much better than the Chinese system, shouldn't Western-style of teaching be adopted in China? Again, I seek intelligent and objective answers.

MichaelM, from China Daily's blog

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(China Daily 03/14/2013 page10)

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