Schools: America vs. East Asia

Jonah Silverberg

Introduction

The United States has received heavy criticism for falling behind East Asian countries in education. This is because Asian students make education their top priority, spend much more time in the classroom, and earn higher test scores as a result. The international surveys for math, science, and reading speak for themselves. America's education system is worse at preparing students for the world than East Asia's education system.
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Responsibility, Hard Work, respect

According to Nicholas Kristof in his article "China's Winning Schools?", education thrives in China because it is a top priority for parents and students. Although the United States spends more than double that of what China spends on its education system, the Chinese system is still overtaking most Western countries. (Xia, policymic.com, 2013) Most American students attend classes 5 days a week for 7 1/2 hours a day, but in China, many students attend classes 6 days a week, or their school requires extra classes in math and science on weekend mornings. (Mack, chineseculture.about) This develops a stronger work ethic for Chinese students and better prepares them for real jobs. Teachers in China are also treated with much more respect than teachers in the U.S. In fact, teachers in China have been given their own holiday. (Schaak, University of Michigan)

Career Pathways

In the United States, schools such as Bettendorf High School have very extensive extra curricular activities, such as athletics. Although sports are great for developing teamwork skills and lead to improved health, they can also take away from studying time if practices and/or games last too long. In China, extra curricular activities are not nearly as extensive and sports are less competitive. (Mack, chineseculture.about) Therefore, Chinese students spend more time studying subjects that they will actually need in the competitive workforce, such as math and science. In an international survey, high school students assessed in Shanghai placed first in math, reading, and science. (O'Leary, huffingtonpost.com, 2012) Since most jobs in China require people proficient in math and science, schools are doing a great job preparing their students for the best possible career pathways.
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Business/life skills

Most American schools offer optional honors and AP classes for higher-achieving students. However, this can lead to laziness and poor work ethic for students who choose to take easier classes and not challenge themselves at all. In China, high-level classes are mandatory because the Chinese system holds the belief that all students can succeed if they put in the effort. (Schaak, University of Michigan) Early education courses are also much more common in East Asia. Nearly 30 million Chinese students are enrolled in early-education programs at ages 3 and 4, as opposed to only 3.5 million in the United States. Researchers say early education builds cognitive, social, and emotional skills at a very young age and provides a greater chance for success later on in life. (O'Leary, huffingtonpost.com, 2012)
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problem solving, critical/creative thinking

China's educational system is much more advanced in terms of the use of technology than America. Chinese schools are more likely to integrate technology into all curriculum areas, and spend more time using technology overall. Although the U.S. is slowly following East Asia's lead in terms of technology in classrooms, Chinese students are already much more proficient with computers. As early as 3rd grade, multimedia presentations such as power-points are assigned to students in China in order to teach them how to use a computer as a tool to convey their ideas and present information. (Yung, globalpost.com, 2010) According to students who have taken classes in both the U.S. and China, Chinese teachers are much more technology savvy. (huffingtonpost.com, 2013)
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