If we’d like a culture of poorly motivated and critically-thinking impaired people then- sure, let’s emulate China’s education system.
Wait! Don’t they “perform” really well by international standards? Aren’t they the ones we’re chasing on math and science tests? Don’t they win most of the competitions in US schools and always “do well”.. why wouldn’t we want to emulate the system that gave rise to this? Because our world will fail if we do.
To begin, regular readers of this blog do not need a reminder of why “doing well on tests” doesn’t matter (you can search for that content on this blog). “Performing” is not living, and no indicator that you’re ready to live or succeed in the world. But the biggest reason why Chinese education should be shunned is because it kills creativity and stifles innovation – the motors of development and growth. That’s why even the Chinese are making serious efforts to change their education system. Chinese author Yong Zhao has written about this very subject in his book Catching Up. He describes China’s desire to undo the damages of testing and standardization; and he accurately notes that “Innovative people cannot come from schools that force students to memorize correct answers on standardized tests or reward students who excel at regurgitating dictated spoon-fed knowledge”.
American “reformers” who think that the ANSWERS to our current “testing” crisis lie within the model of Chinese/Asian education are just plain mistaken. Well, let’s correct that. The answer to our testing crisis may very well be in that model – the problem is that our crisis in NOT one of testing – it’s much worse, much more fundamental.