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TOPIC: Problems in Chinese education system

Problems in Chinese education system 3 years 11 months ago #3908

At a May 3rd conference held in Nanjing, John Hennessy, president of Stanford University said that Chinese universities mainly have two problems.

1. The predominant teaching method in most Chinese universities is teacher-centered lectures, while group discussions are rarely seen, which negatively affects students' learning. There are Chinese students at Stanford University who do not dare ask questions when they first arrive, but they change and become active after seeing their foreign classmates challenge their teachers, he said.

2. Second, he said Chinese university students are required to choose their majors when they are only around 18 years old, which is too early for them. They do not know about university courses, let alone have any interest in the courses. Their horizons become limited because they choose majors too early and misunderstand the relationship between a college education and future careers.
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90782/6974195.html


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I don't know much about the second point, but that first one has been driving me crazy for a long time... when I get a new batch of students, the first big challenge is to make them unlearn the study habits of rote learning that has been drilled into their heads since they were little.
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Re:Problems in Chinese education system 3 years 11 months ago #3910

These points are interesting and certainly valid. I do believe though that the main problem in Chinese universities is the "race to education" and everything that goes with it. Universities are shameless businesses in this country. It is extremely common in most universities (if not all) that teachers give the answers to an exam before the exam. Why talking about education, learning etc when there is no place for such things in the first place. It is all about satisfying a customer, making money and giving the illusion that the country is getting more and more "educated".
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Re:Problems in Chinese education system 3 years 11 months ago #3924

Can't agree enough with the first point. When I first get new students, I spend the first two weeks explaining questions to them, and getting them to give me examples. Teaching them question words, open-ended vs closed-ended questions and the like. I teach them nothing but the art of asking a targeted and direct question. This usually entices about 30% of the class to ask questions continually during the semester, which keeps it interesting enough for me.

The Chinese education system is a tough one. It partly comes down to supply and demand. There are thousands of university hopefuls who do not get into university each year simply because there is insufficient supply to meet the demand. This excess demand means that Chinese teachers are given massive class sizes to contend with (s are foreign teachers - 20-30 students is still too many for a language class). Imagine trying to have group discussion with 80 or more students. Although I agree it is necessary, it is impractical with such large numbers. Something China is trying to rectify, but it is not easy.

An interesting story: my friend's Chinese girlfriend asked him to come to her class one day. The lecture was on Mao Zedong. When the teacher saw him, she said he was not allowed in the class because he may disagree with what the teacher was saying, or may ask questions that were inappropriate. Or, even worse, he may write something about the lecture and the teacher may lose her job.

This gives insight into the different teaching approach in a western country. I'd imagine if someone who potentially had a countervailing view came into a lecture in a western university, the lecturer would relish to chance for an intellectual argument. Anyway, when I asked the student why she thought the teacher acted this way, the student said that it is because western countries are trying to destroy China, and China should protect itself from this ideas.

Thoughts??
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Re:Problems in Chinese education system 3 years 11 months ago #3926

Well,I can say something as a chinese university student.The two points that said by the president of Stanford University are just superfical phenomenon.Observing the Chinese education system from a western pointview is not that easy to reach the core problems.

It's the spirit for freedom and truth that all the universities in China need urgently.Too many chinese college students need the guidence of soul.They are too desperate deep inside.What they worry about is how to pass different exams,how to get more certificates,how to get themselves good job with high salary...If someone was born in a wealthy family,things like those would not be tough, but how about those who were not?

From middle school until we leave university finally,a marjority of us just spend the most creative years of our lives imposing upon our minds a ridid hierarchy of frozen knowledge.While in a quickly changing world the most imporant part of education os to learn how to think critically,how to create and how to ask interesting questions.It's much less important to learn how to categorize knowledge and how to answer old questions.

And we also too need to acquire a sense of life as a grand exploration.However puzzling,and learn to negotiate alien environment and unfamiliar situations.What I know is many students living on the pavements that their parents have made.Chinese love their kids so much,they worry about them so much,they dont want to see the kids go to wrong ways,make mistakes,as the kids are too young to know about the outside world and life.

For very bright young people,the most efficent learning comes from playing.The ability to think creatively,to understand fundamentally,to ask questions,is developed when we build our ideas ourselves,play with them and debate them with our teachers and our peers.We need some structure and guidence from those who know more,but the predominant teaching method just does not work that well.

One foreign teacher who taught in China for many years said something like China needed 100 million humanistic teachers.
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Re:Problems in Chinese education system 3 years 11 months ago #4094

Wendy006 wrote:
Well,I can say something as a chinese university student.The two points that said by the president of Stanford University are just superfical phenomenon.Observing the Chinese education system from a western pointview is not that easy to reach the core problems.

It's the spirit for freedom and truth that all the universities in China need urgently.Too many chinese college students need the guidence of soul.They are too desperate deep inside.What they worry about is how to pass different exams,how to get more certificates,how to get themselves good job with high salary...If someone was born in a wealthy family,things like those would not be tough, but how about those who were not?

From middle school until we leave university finally,a marjority of us just spend the most creative years of our lives imposing upon our minds a ridid hierarchy of frozen knowledge.While in a quickly changing world the most imporant part of education os to learn how to think critically,how to create and how to ask interesting questions.It's much less important to learn how to categorize knowledge and how to answer old questions.

And we also too need to acquire a sense of life as a grand exploration.However puzzling,and learn to negotiate alien environment and unfamiliar situations.What I know is many students living on the pavements that their parents have made.Chinese love their kids so much,they worry about them so much,they dont want to see the kids go to wrong ways,make mistakes,as the kids are too young to know about the outside world and life.

For very bright young people,the most efficent learning comes from playing.The ability to think creatively,to understand fundamentally,to ask questions,is developed when we build our ideas ourselves,play with them and debate them with our teachers and our peers.We need some structure and guidence from those who know more,but the predominant teaching method just does not work that well.

One foreign teacher who taught in China for many years said something like China needed 100 million humanistic teachers.

Great post Wendy. I am currently writing some articles for work about emerging trends in the Chinese education system.

Earlier this year, the central government released the second draft of a document called Guidelines for Mid and Long-Range Education Reform and Development.

In that document, they outlined some of the problems with the current (GAOKAO) system:
In the face of unprecedented opportunities and challenges, we must fully recognize that our education does not meet the country's economic and social requirements. Conception of education is relatively backward... students are weak in entrepreneurial skills, versatile talent is in short supply... there are regional imbalances, minority areas are lagging behind in development...

You wrote: "If someone was born in a wealthy family, things like those would not be tough, but how about those who were not?"

It's a complicated issue, but at least (it seems) the central powers are open to recognizing the need for improvement and also to taking steps to correct the problems...
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Re:Problems in Chinese education system 3 years 11 months ago #4457

Wouw you know about GaoKao? this putting many pressure on children and parents. from very small on parents will make us much much study, exhausting. competition too high. I wish there is other way. I hope this change so my children don't have pressure like this.

Also, you know if have money you can cheat you know? I also have friend (not really friend but I know) and she now in Germany and study there but actually she hire other Chinese write her dissertation and later she wants doing her professorship. I think is outrages, how can she do this? Also she is not smart but very dippy. Is surprise she can tie shoelayers.
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Re:Problems in Chinese education system 3 years 11 months ago #4505

that is just an example among many other cases of cheating and/or corruption both in china and abroad.

believe me or not, i know some people who study abroad but don't even have a "real" gaokao...

i don't know much about the situation in north america but i do know for a fact that it's pretty bad in europe. a police investigation is under way in france for instance. government there has realized that in the last few years 1000's of chinese students have obtained degrees from universities by illegal means. dissertations written by someone else seems to be very common.

i might sound very harsh and pessimistic but as i already posted earlier in this thread, there is much more than meets the eye. those who have worked closely with government or recruiters know what im talking about...
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