[EDUCATION IN ASIA#4] China – Strong Performers and Successful Reformers

DOC FILM (2012, Shanghai, China) Strong Performers and Successful Reformers

A drive by Shanghai authorities to help low-performing schools and students took the city’s secondary-school students to top place in the PISA 2009 tests. (EduSkills OECD, 24 January 2012):

DOC FILM (2012, Dalian, China): Inside of Chinese High Schools

Many factors play into China’s booming economy – one of which is its education. So, how do the Chinese do it? I found out through this interview with several students in two Chinese high schools. See the difference in the education of the other side of the world.

Part 1 includes an overview of two Chinese high schools in the city of Dalian, China. These two high schools, Dalian 20th High and Dalian Yuming High School, are in the top 5 of all high schools in Dalian, and must only accept students who score very well on the high school admissions test. What struck me was the size of the two schools. The campuses are almost the size of an ordinary college campus in a city in the US. What’s also interesting is that Yuming is planning to move to an even larger campus very soon, one that is almost 6 times larger. These high schools not only resemble colleges in their size, but also the fact that students can live on campus in dormitories. Unlike in the US where high school students are usually allowed to choose their individual courses and electives, the students in China can choose only from two different sets, one for the liberal arts, and one for the sciences. The homework students receive in China are also much different from that in the US. Most of their homework is written (solving problems and writing essays). However, a certain course in 10th grade provides the students an opportunity to complete a research project of their initiatives. Even though the schools in China are much more structured than in the US and that the students spend most of their time doing schoolwork, they still have the time to participate in a variety of clubs and activities, including hip-hop clubs, art clubs, and community service groups. As with the other parts, I concluded the video with the interesting slogan I found on 20th High – „A nation’s future is determined not on the battlefield, but rather in every classroom.”

Part 2 includes a description of the college admissions process in China. It is interesting to note that even though both China and the US place an importance on both academic performance and personal abilities, China’s admissions process is very different. All testing for college is done at the same time at the end of senior year. Acceptance into college is then determined by the performance on this test. Only students whose scores pass certain score lines can be accepted into certain colleges. This creates a great deal of stress in the students as if they fail to meet, they must wait another whole year before being able to retake the exams. However, the exam score is not completely determined by just the performance on the written exams. Students with certain abilities can have points added to their scores. For example, being a provincially recognized honors student can add ten points to a score. Other things that can add to a score include excellence in music, awards in competitions, etc. (The next part was removed from the video due to the confusion it may cause) Also, colleges also get a certain quota of students that they can choose to accept themselves. An excellent college like Tsinghua University can choose to accept 1000 students, while a lesser college can only choose to accept 500, 250, and so on. Acceptance through this university-choice quota is determined by teacher recommendations, interviews, and excellence in areas that may not be reflected in academic performance. As with the other parts, I concluded the video with the interesting slogan I found on 20th High – „A nation’s future is determined not on the battlefield, but rather in every classroom.”

Part 3 includes an interview of a member of the student council in China. Their duties are pretty similar to those of student councils in the US, but is much harder to become a member of. In this part, I’ve also interviewed all the participants on their future career dreams, asking them an interesting question I was asked before, „Do you want to be an banker or an engineer in the future? Bankers do nothing and get everything, while engineers do everything and get very little.” It was interesting to see how most answered that they wanted to be the „engineer” type, but that the one who wanted to be a „banker” said that they were too exhausted from the constant work in school. However, the last response was probably the most genuine, in that he wanted to be the „engineer” type but still make lots of money like the „banker” type. I’ve also had the opportunity to witness 20th High’s weekly flag raising ceremony. Every Monday, every student and staff member in the school assembles in the courtyard to march and salute the flag with the national anthem. Select students are nominated to write and orate a partriotic essay.

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