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BBC Show: Are British Kids Tough Enough to Handle Chinese School?

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realmayo

Oh I see, I misunderstood, I thought you were saying money was enough for them to get into Oxford/Cambridge but wasn't enough to get into Beida.

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Angelina

Of course not hahaha

The Chinese students at my program are paying 1200元 a year for accommodation.

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realmayo

Interesting. I wonder which is easier to get into for a Chinese student, Beida/Qinghua or Oxford/Cambridge.

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davoosh

 

Trying to think back why this happens in the UK, I think social welfare has a part to play. However, there are other countries who are better than UK (Probably Nordic countries) and other who are worse (across the channel). Is it an inflated sense of self opinion?

 

 

I don't think social welfare has much to do with it at all. The UK is a post-industrial, overpopulated country and unemployment is necessarily going to occur. It's a clever rhetorical trick for the government to use the old adage of "but the poor don't want to work/the poor are lazy and want to rely on handouts" to cut welfare, when in reality the number of families who rely on welfare alone is very small.

 

"Under 1% of workless households might have two generations who have never worked – about 15,000 households in the UK. Families with three such generations will therefore be even fewer."

 

It's also no coincidence that unemployment tends to be highest in traditional industrial centres - i.e. working class areas which have seen university education as often unattainable and now find it difficult to enter the job market. The government should support these people (which isn't the same as encouraging a life of welfare, and living on social welfare isn't exactly a life of luxury) and blaming social welfare as the cause of ill in society is basically blaming the poor or working class for being poor. This isn't an excuse for bad parenting, though, which is a real problem.

 

 

Most of the theory is based on Vygotsky's understanding of how people learn. So there's a lot about the "social nature" of learning and the importance of understanding the different experiences and understandings students bring to the classroom. On paper, it sounds great. In practice, it places an enormous responsibility on a teacher in terms of content knowledge, understanding of how to construct and interpret assessment data reliably etc. Basically, in its ideal form, assessment is something which occurs at all times - and adjustments need to be made accordingly for each student - in order to pitch work at the most suitable level.

 

It seems that academics love to come up with theories about education, but trying to implement them realistically in a class of 30 screaming teenagers is nearly impossible.

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imron

If you have the money to send your child to Oxbridge and support them during their studies, you almost certainly have the money to pay for child to get in to beida/tsinghua.

There are ways in to these universities besides the gaokao, and they cost less than an Oxbridge education.

@Angelina, I'm amused/bemused at your perception of Chinese military spending/might.

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anonymoose

Discounting any backdoor ways in, the main difference for Chinese people getting into Beida or Oxbridge is that the former only requires scores, and provided you can pass the line, you can get in. Oxbridge, on the other hand, require all prospective students to attend a series of (usually 2 or 3) interviews (although not all applicants make it to the interview stage). As soon as interviews enter the equation, it adds an element of subjectivity, or for want of a better word, luck. Those who are able to leave a positive impression stand a much higher chance of being accepted. I've known excellent Chinese students who have been rejected by Oxford and Cambridge, and also poor students who've been accepted.

 

The other thing to consider is that Chinese universities have the reputation that once you are in, you are almost guaranteed to come out with a degree. I cannot speak for Beida or Tsinghua, but certainly it seemed to be that way at Fudan. That is certainly not the case with Oxbridge. Getting in absolutely does not mean you will come out with a degree. I've known Chinese students who have gone out of their way to get into Oxbridge without ever considering whether it is the right place for them (and to be fair, how are most Chinese 17/18 year olds supposed to know what it's like on the ground in a university in a country that they know almost nothing about?). The result is that they get the temporary glory of having being accepted into Oxbridge, but once there struggle, waste time and money, and eventually end up transferring to a different university which would probably have suited them better from the beginning.

 

So whilst I cannot answer the question of whether it's easier for Chinese students to get into Beida or Tsinghua, or Oxford or Cambridge, a more pertinent question would be which are easier for Chinese students to actually get degrees from.

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Angelina

Vygotsky was right, society is important. No wonder British people can't understand his works. Just like what Davoosh is saying. Maybe British people prefer things that work in practice, academics are not appreciated in the UK. Ivory tower :(

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davoosh

I'm not so sure about state schools. A lot of them have pretty tight budgets and are understaffed, as well as providing (what I would consider) very mediocre education. University is a different matter though.

 

As regards Vygotsky and actual teaching pratcice, I think that's just a reality of teaching. Even if you do appreciate academic works on educational theory, putting them into practice while trying to control a class of rowdy British teenagers isn't easy.

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Angelina

http://m.blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_62e4e29f0100h9y3.html#page=4

Culture makes two sorts of contributions to a child's intellectual development. First, through culture children acquire much of the content of their thinking, that is their knowledge. Second, the surrounding culture provides a child with the processes or means of their thinking, what Vygotsians call the tools of intellectual adaptation.In short, according to the social cognition learning model, culture teaches children both what to think and how to think.

Cognitive development results from a dialectical process whereby a child learns through problem-solving experiences shared with someone else, usually a parent or teacher but sometimes a sibling or peer.

Initially, the person interacting with child assumes most of the reponsibility for guiding the problem solving, but gradually this responsibility transfers to the child.

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davoosh

Isn't that just saying the UK would need to rework its attitude/culture towards education (which I agree with)? Rather than putting the responsibility solely on the shoulders' of a teacher dealing with disrespectful, uninterested, unmotivated students? Economic background affects the culture in which a child is raised too and is obviously part of a larger problem.

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Angelina

I don't think the problem here is their economic background, the problem is their culture, the people are rowdy- both the teenagers and their parents.

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somethingfunny

My original point about Oxford and Cambridge was intended to be interpreted as follows:

 

The UK employs a 6-hour school day and seems to be getting along just fine with an excellent reputation in world science, arts, finance etc.

 

China employs a 12-hour school day and is, arguably, not achieving the same heights.

 

I illustrated this point by saying that both Chinese and British students hope to study at Oxford/Cambridge (the pinnacle of the British education system, further highlighting how its not doing a bad job at all) where as few British students would choose to study in Beijing.  I would, at a stretch, say that the satisfaction of Chinese students who do study at elite Chinese universities would be much lower than their British counterparts, but I don't have anything to support this.

 

So the point is, 15-20 years ago, I spent half the time at school that current Chinese students do, but was able to achieve much more.  If you have this quality vs quantity conversation with any reasonable Chinese person, they tend to agree. (Although its usually a case of agreeing with one hand while telling children to take more classes with the other.)

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LiMo

I will just say that she's right in so far as Western institutions have more money and history behind them, hence why the quality is often so much better. Slight anecdote, I've noticed that the best universities in a country are often the oldest. This makes sense as they have had more time to develop connections and accrue wealthy investors and so on. If you think of Western institutions as old men and institutions in places like China as young adults it's not really surprising that the former is in the lead simply because they started earlier.

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Flickserve

My original point about Oxford and Cambridge was intended to be interpreted as follows:

The UK employs a 6-hour school day and seems to be getting along just fine with an excellent reputation in world science, arts, finance etc.

China employs a 12-hour school day and is, arguably, not achieving the same heights.

......

So the point is, 15-20 years ago, I spent half the time at school that current Chinese students do, but was able to achieve much more. If you have this quality vs quantity conversation with any reasonable Chinese person, they tend to agree. (Although its usually a case of agreeing with one hand while telling children to take more classes with the other.)

Dunno really. I did ask a british trained doctor how much time he could spend in the library studying and he replied 12 hours. He must have being something useful...

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gato

Long school days and lots of homework is common in other East Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, too. So the China model could also be called the East Asian model. (Leaving aside the political indoctrination in Chinese classrooms, which is a separate topic.)

This East Asian model is effective high-volume training, effective at bringing a majority of the population up to a high level of minimum competence. But it may not as good as developing creativity and critical thinking, because the education is mass-produced and doesn't allow for much personal freedom by design. The U.S (and presumably UK model), in contrast, allows much more personal freedom on and gives each students much more time outside of the classroom to explore personal interests (and socialize). This model is able to produce a high-motivated (and self-educated really) elite 1-5% (including graduates of the Ivies and Oxbridge). But if you compare the bottom 50% in an East Asian classroom with the bottom 50% in a U.S./UK classroom on basic reading and math skills, the results might tilt more in the East Asian model's favor.

Another positive in the East Asian model is that it's largely a public education model, where the U.S. and even more so the UK have a very large private role in secondary education. The same education is available to rich and poor alike to a much greater extent in public education. In China, there is discrimination based on hukou (residency), but hukou is basically the luck of draw based on where one's family lived fifty years ago (hukou became more strictly enforced around time of the Great Leap Forward to stop the flow of rural folks into the cities). There are many low income families with big city hukou, and their children more or less have equal opportunities in schools.

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Shelley

I have just watched the first episode, and in my opinion the biggest problem is the lack of discipline. I can not believe how badly behaved those kids are.

 

They really need a dose of discipline and punishment. Their personal liberties don't come into it. The way they behave they don't deserve them.

 

How does it happen? How have they got so far being so badly behaved?

 

I know I will probably get a resounding round of negativity but they need to bring back punishments that actually work. Even if that means some sort of corporal punishment.

 

I have a lot of friends and including myself who went to school when there was corporal punishment and much higher levels of discipline, we all say that if there had not been such strict rules and routines we would never have learnt as much as we did and not have made as much of our selves as we have done.

We recognise that at that age we needed to be taken in hand and made to do things that was for our own good even if we didn't see it then, now we appreciate it.

 

They need to sort out the classroom behaviour first and then teach them, almost any teaching method will work when the students are actually actively learning.

 

There is some cultural differences in teaching methods but nothing so different as the methods of controlling and managing the class.

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anonymoose

I agree with Shelley. The critical issue is not the teaching method, but the discipline. Disciplined children will be able to learn something, even if the teaching method is less than ideal. Incidentally, the UK has some of the top universities in the world, yet most classes at university consist of a lecturer at the front talking to 50+, perhaps even 100+ students, in much the same way the Chinese teachers teach. If it works for university, why is it so berated at lower levels? The point is that it works when the students are disciplined, which for the most part, is so at university.

 

Student centred approaches may also be good for disciplined students, but I feel in a lot of cases, they are just used to mask the inability to control the students, i.e. if the students mouth off, then it's "encouraged" because it allows the students to "express themselves".

 

I think the most salient point is the fundamental difference in attitude towards discipline in China and in the UK. In China, discipline is seen as a virtue - yes, not everybody is disciplined, but those who are, are looked upon as role models. In the UK, in contrast, if you are disciplined, you are a swat (or nerd), essentially looked down upon. Those who get the street cred are the ones who commit the most outragious infractions.

 

I taught a class in China that was being filmed, much like the classes in the BBC documentary. When the camera was rolling in the classroom, the students were much better behaved than normal. Presumably they didn't want the shame of being caught on film misbehaving. On the other hand, I get the feeling from the BBC documentary that some students were deliberately playing up, because it would be the ultimate of coolness to show how badass you are on camera.

 

I agree, some of those kids should have a slipper on their backsides.

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davoosh

I agree with Shelley and Anonymoose. Discipline and behaviour is awful. The children realise that the teacher doesn't actually have much authority, children can't be made to resit the year, etc. and they use this to constantly misbehave and disrupt without much consequence. Parents don't help either because they don't like teachers being 'hard' on their precious children. Then the teacher is blamed for not creating 'inspirational' enough lessons...

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imron

Removed off-topic posts.  Discussion of NATO abuses has no place in a thread about a BBC reality TV show about Chinese schools.

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somethingfunny

While I agree with what has been said about the difference in discipline, I'm still more inclined to look at this from a results-based perspective.  Yes, it would seem that there is less discipline in the British classroom, but this doesn't seem to be hurting the UK that much.  They are still producing well educated, capable graduates.  Anecdotally, if I have two students who are both awful at learning and one sits at the front diligently writing down everything I say while the other sits at the back questioning everything I say but they both do terribly on exams, now while it might be much more hardwork for me to have the second one, I'm pretty sure they're going to do a lot better in life.

 

Also, lets not forget that this is a TV show and therefore everything will have been distorted for entertainments sake and none of it can be taken as being anywhere near representative of the average British classroom.

 

LiMo, you're right that older institutions are usually better but you should also consider the amount of money they have.  I went to University in Britain and the endowments that some fairly average US colleges have are truly eye-watering!  Oxbridge and Ivies etc. have so much money that their students can do whatever they want, as long as a professor signs off on it.

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