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Chinese (Asian) education vs Western education

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Ken
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Chinese (Asian) education vs Western education

Post by Ken » Sun January 9th, 2011, 8:17 pm

I read this article in the Sunday Times today. Many of you will hate it and react as I initially did to her almost 'inhuman' approach to her children. Then I paused. I lived in Korea for 3 years in the '90's and was struck by the discipline of the children, seeing them on the metro, holding onto the uprights as though their lives depended on it, practically asleep where they stood. Sack of books on their backs, violin case (or cello, sometimes!) in their hands, catching a few zzzzs before arriving for their next day at school. But, invariably, they stuck to their tasks and did their parents proud.

Now, should the object be to do your parents proud? Or should you concentrate on having an easier, more westernised approach of enjoying what life throws at you? Doing (sometimes) the minimum to achieve a 2:2 in 'media studies' or a degree in 'golf management'?

I know that many of you will find her attitude repulsive and find it hard to believe that she actually loves her children, let alone that she cares what hang-ups they will carry on into adult life. BUT, I saw this attitude in Korea at first hand and this is what the West is up against! You teachers and parents out there, can the West rise to the challenge with its current, Oh, Ok! So you got a D in English Lit! Well, that's not so bad! I'm sure that you were not last in your class!

Discuss!

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 98754.html

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Susan
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Post by Susan » Sun January 9th, 2011, 8:52 pm

I am a middle school teacher in an urban district where not many parents are actively involved in their children's education for various reasons. As a parent, I was glad that both my children were high achievers, but never in a million years would I submit them to the practices in that article. I wanted my kids to value education on their own and not because their parents demanded A's.

I just did a Google search for "Chinese students" +suicide and came up with these articles. The first two are about Asian-American students and the last is about students in China.

The Growing Rate of Depression, Suicide Among Asian American Students

Asian Americans' Rising Suicide Rates -- Three Students Take their Lives

Why Are "Little Emperors" Killing Themselves?
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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sun January 9th, 2011, 9:16 pm

Isn't it true that in Chinese society they are tested at an early age to see waht they woudl be good tat? We dont have that here in America. I also don't think they allow special education children to take the same tests as your "average" students which is happening in NY state.

Don't get me wrong, parents aren't what they used to be. Instead of backing teachers they view them as the enemy. As long as their child has "fun" then school is a success. :rolleyes:

I wouldn't mind a little more importance placed on learning and teachers and school. However, I also think we need to look at how we evaluate students as well. Not everyone is going to be going to college.
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Post by Susan » Sun January 9th, 2011, 9:21 pm

[quote=""Divia""]I also don't think they allow special education children to take the same tests as your "average" students which is happening in NY state.[/quote]

This happens all over the USA because of No Child Left Behind.
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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sun January 9th, 2011, 9:57 pm

[quote=""Susan""]This happens all over the USA because of No Child Left Behind.[/quote]

Ok, well that makes me feel better...sorta. Its nice to know we are not the only delusional ones.
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parthianbow
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Post by parthianbow » Mon January 10th, 2011, 9:31 am

Interesting topic for debate, Ken.

The woman sounds not too far from being a nut job. If that's the way that she wants to bring up her children, that's her issue, but it's so far at the other end of the spectrum from parents who don't bother with their kids that I couldn't envisage in a million years ever being like that. And I don't see the need. Sitting a child at a piano without water or a toilet break for half the day and night until she perfected a certain piece. I mean, what? If that's not abuse, what is?

For the record, my brother and I were encouraged to read a lot, but we were never pushed by my parents academically. Not in any way, shape or form. My brother was a straight 'A' grade secondary school student, went to medical college, and is now a consultant psychiatrist. I was an 'A/B' grade secondary school student, went to veterinary medicine college, worked as a veterinarian and am now a full time writer. Respectable enough results achieved without any of the methods mentioned in the article. Neither of us plays musical instruments, but I don't think that that really matters. I think it's more important that we weren't subjected to the treatment that the kids in the article were.

It's not to say that children shouldn't be encouraged to do better, and not always praised to the skies for not doing that well, but hey, they don't need to be degraded in some of the ways that article mentioned. In addition, what on earth is wrong with encouraging self-esteem? It's lack of self-esteem that is at the root of so many's peoples insecurities. And who knows, it might have something to do with the very high rate of suicide among Asian teenagers - the self-same ones who are pushed and pushed, and not accepted unless they get 'A' grades in everything?

* takes deep breath, climbs off soapbox*
Last edited by parthianbow on Mon January 10th, 2011, 9:39 am, edited 8 times in total.
Reason: error
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon January 10th, 2011, 4:34 pm

There's a spectrum, and that mom is on the far end of it. But as I read the article, as a trainer, there were definitely things I approved of. Not necessarily the goal--I just don't see the advantage in being able to play a certain piece, and the relationship is getting a little odd. But I do approve of the work that this parent was willing to put into her child, and the importance she placed on her.

My children are all grown, and looking back, I regret every opportunity that I missed to teach them discipline and perseverance, and am proud of the times that I did stick to my guns. Of course, I wasn't all too disciplined myself at the time, having been raised in a culture where discipline isn't life-or-death like it is in more subsistence countries. I do notice, now that I work more with developing-world issues, that places where a lack of discipline can get you killed, people work a good deal harder at instilling it in their kids.

The gist is, western parents may not be as bizarrely obsessed with their children's performance--but they are, on the flip (and worse) side, far more lazy. Our kids benefit from the former, but they suffer from the latter.

One other thought on subsistence cultures and parenting: if our old age depended on how well we raised our kids, do you think western parents would be willing to work harder at producing the kind of person who could be depended upon to think of family before self?

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Mon January 10th, 2011, 9:16 pm

I think that, even leaving out the extreme parents such as this woman, there is definitely a cultural influence among all Asian groups that produces better behaviour in the classroom and better academic achievement in their children. In the more prosperous and affluent Asian groups -- such as the Chinese and Japanese -- this can tend to lead to kids being pushed to be super-achievers. However, even in the very poor Asian groups there is still an academic discipline in their children that sets them markedly apart from others. In my city we have a large population of Southeast Asian people (Hmong, Laotians and Cambodians). They come from a subsistence culture, and even here in America they tend to remain poor, having large families and subsisting on welfare. They don't seem to push their kids to achieve, and their children aren't super-achievers. But, as wild and undiscipled as their kids may be (and they usually are at home!) the minute they walk into a classroom they settle right down and settle right in. In motor skills such as coloring, cutting and glueing (I've worked with 5-year-olds and 7-year-olds) they are far superior to any other children. And when you give them something to do, whether it be a craft project or a more academic activity like a puzzle, they never ask for help; they figure it out easily on their own, whereas other children tend to ask for help without even trying it first!

I have worked with such children -- in a limited capacity -- for 20 years, and these observations have held true for that entire time. I have worked with dozens and dozens of SEA children, and have only encountered one who was an exception.

So, I can only conclude that there is a respect for authority and education that is instilled in them by their parents and their culture. I could easily handle a class of 40 or more SEA children all by myself; I definitely can't say that about any other group!

Sadly, I believe that in this country parents have undermined their children's academic performance by challenging the teacher and the school so much, and teaching their kids to do the same. As a result, time that could be spent actually teaching the kids is instead spent trying to keep them under control.
Last edited by Michy on Mon January 10th, 2011, 9:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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