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Critics say top-rated Chinese education system has a flaw

Critics say top-rated Chinese education system has a flaw

In a recent article in USA Today titled “Critics say top-rated Chinese education system has a flaw”, Kathy Chu discussed recent results from the OECD exam for 15 year olds from all over the world. While Chinese students excelled in the exam, these results are not being celebrated by experts. Why is it that Chinese students excel in tests but are unable to develop critical thinking and innovation?

Last month the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development announced that in its recent tests of academic excellence, 15 year old students from Shanghai had outperformed all other children in math, science and reading. Students from other Asian countries also ranked near the top and by comparison, US students were average in reading and science and below average in math.

According to John Winn, the chief program officer for the US National Math and Science Initiative, even if the US doubles its efforts, it would still take it decades to catch up with Hong Kong students. President Obama also said something similar recently in the State of the Union address when he commented on the need to improve US educational standards.

However in a surprising reaction experts have criticized the Chinese education system. Jiang Xueqinm, deputy principal of Peking University High School, said that Chinese students are good at “achieving short-term goals” and are “good at copying things, not creating them”.

In spite of the test results, Chinese students are coming to the US in large numbers. Most come for college but there are students coming for high school as well. Numbers have seen a 30% increase from the previous year. Students are looking to develop critical thinking skills and innovation across disciplines; this is something that the American education system excels in.

The difference in skills has been linked to a culture of deep respect for elders that prevents students from being critical and question teachers. While students in China do not lack information, and 25% of Chinese students taking the OECD test cracked problems that only 3% of the other students could, the education system in China may not give them free rein to be creative and innovate.

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The New Asia Innovation Team