Four things we can learn from the Chinese education system

May 20, 2021 12:35 PM

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An example of how a student would track the behavior and academic performance of other students. Photo courtesy of Payton Qin.

An example of how a student would track the behavior and academic performance of other students. Photo courtesy of Payton Qin.

I lived in China for the first 12 years of my life. After those 12 years, I despised my elementary school because of how much easier it got after I transferred to an American private middle school. Now that I am in high school, looking back, there are so many things from my education in China that motivated me to study more than in America. While Chinese students are often stereotyped as smart and hardworking, no one is born perfect. What is it that makes the Chinese school system and its students so special? Here are 4 things that Chinese schools use to motivate students and boost their study:

All the homework

All the time, when I heard my friends complain about how much homework the American school, I always thought to myself: “Man, would you even survive school if you were born in China?” It was a common impression for Chinese students to think American schools are so much easier on their students, especially on homework. When I was in middle school, which is when I came to America, the amount of homework was so little that I could deal with language barriers at the same time and still finish homework by dinnertime. In China, this was pretty unimaginable since the amount of homework was impossible for us to finish that quickly. Almost every student would try to finish their homework as fast as they could in order to have more free time back home.

I believe that handing out more homework to students in America would not stress them out. In fact, I believe this will allow them to discover their hidden potential in managing time, doing work more efficiently, and stopping procrastination. It is pretty clear that the current homework amount is good, but I think that most students can do better, eventually surpassing themselves.

Assigned Officials position system

As elementary school students, everyone wanted some sort of power to flex on their friends, which is exactly what the Chinese school made use of. The system began with teachers observing their student’s behavior at the start of the school year. Then, based on their evaluations, the teachers gave positions to students so they could help manage the classroom. The positions varied from cleaning the classroom and handing out homework, to full-on scoring other students’ behaviors without needing the teachers’ consent.

Many American students that I encountered saw their positions amongst the students as responsibilities, which is true, except that understanding killed many students’ motivation towards their greater potential. Chinese students often see their positions as their pride and honor, which causes them to chase after it, making them much more motivated when it comes to their grades and behaviors. 

One homeroom for all classes

When I first came to America, I was rather confused over the use of lockers. It wasn’t until the first day when I was carrying all of my binders from room to room that I realized what they were for. In China, students usually just sit in their homeroom for all of their classes, and then they have a 10-minute break when the period ends. Students would often pour out of the classroom to drink water, go to the restroom, or even try to rush through a few pages of homework. Rarely, students would travel to the science or computer labs, but other than that, one homeroom was the space for all the subjects.

I loved the 10 minutes break between classes. Not only did it give me time to cool myself off, I was also able to chat with friends, do some homework, or even play a round of tag! This small period of time recharged me after every period by just allowing me to do something fun other than studying. In my opinion, this is much better than having students walk to their next classroom while carrying all their stuff, which leaves us rushing around with no room to breathe. I think American students also deserve a similar break in between classes, so that they can return to class with more energy.

Midday rest

Now this part might not sound very pleasant to all of us, but I always felt amazing after a midday rest, even though it was at a cost of going home late by two hours. Some parents, like my own, paid the school to have beds and lunch for the students, so that they could rest up for their afternoon classes. Other students would go home to have lunch with their parents and sleep in their own bed. In the afternoon, we all came back to finish off the last two periods of classes, and went home by 4:30.

I think we should have a similar break in American schools because I always feel a little burnt out after 4 or 5 classes in a row. The thought of still having few more classes with no restful break makes me feel really tired. With a midday break, I believe that both students and teachers can work most efficiently during our precious time at school.

Although the modern Chinese education system still has many flaws due to its rapid development time in the past 60 years or so, it still has some great things from which we can learn. By combining all these advantages, I believe that in the future, students can study both effortlessly and efficiently.

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