An increasing number of Chinese students are complaining that the overly rigid education system in the country doesn’t give them any opportunities to express themselves or their creativity. Many are also struggling with bearing increasing social pressure brought about by competition to achieve the best scores and graduate with the highest grades in the school.
As one ten-year-old student commented on tiankong520.com, a website set up to allow students from all parts of China to express themselves via articles and short stories, the desire to quit school seems overwhelming sometimes because he feared that continuous examinations meant that his individuality was continually under threat of erasure.
According to the People’s Daily Online, both Chinese parents and teachers have escalating expectations of their students — so much that many families now send their students to school to prepare for schools so they “will not lose at the starting line.” Meanwhile, how children can deal with that kind of pressure is consistently ignored, explains Zheng Zhun, a professor at the School of Educational Science at South China Normal University.
The system discourages students from setting themselves apart, which creates a student body more fit to absorb information than to analyze it. All this is done to pave the way for the students to become “champions” when taking their college entrance examination at the end of their primary and secondary school career. Champions are highly prized by Chinese universities when time comes to select those eligible for admission.
Yet the qualities of a “champion” aren’t universally admired. With an increasing number of Chinese families looking to send their children to universities abroad, many are paying attention to the fact that a full 60% of Chinese “champion” applicants were rejected in 2010 by America’s prestigious Harvard University.
Unlike Eastern education, the Western education system focuses on cultivating students’ horizons, creativity, adaptability, independence, and practical ability, and is aimed at helping them develop good character. A 12-year-old Chinese boy who studied in a primary school in New Zealand for three years told the reporter that primary school students there have almost no homework, and the teachers often hold various activities such as plays to cultivate students interest in learning and practical ability.
The approach in China is different, with practical experimentation discouraged in favor of rote memorization. According to Yang Fujia, former president of Fudan University and current chancellor of the University of Nottingham, the system focuses too much on “passing on knowledge.”
The primary school student questioned traditional Chinese education in his article. Experts noted that creativity on the basis of curiosity and interest should not be overlooked again, and children’s good character and comprehensive development is much more important than high scores. Outdated education methods and ideas should be eliminated as soon as possible.