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East vs West Education [Copy link] 中文

Rank: 4

Post time 2003-10-6 12:41:48 |Display all floors
What is the difference between East and West education?

Since Confucius’ time or more realistically probably much later, Chinese were trained to develop an exceptional skill in memorization and repetition. I personally benefited a lot from it in passing my TOEFL test,  but suffered even more in the thousand of hours spent on memorizing the answers to those stupid political examination questions. Such a training has also produced many civil servants (more recently engineers, technocrats), who helped to maintain an exceptional Chinese civilization that has a longer continuity than any other civilizations. The Chinese culture has changed very little in the past 2200 years, showing a powerful resilience and stability, while in comparison, the civilization of Egyptian, Greek, Indian, and Roman all flourish momentarily in history. Some historians attribute this Chinese phenomenon to its remarkable education and civil servant system, by which all prospective candidates for government official were trained to gain the skill of “memorization, repetition, and obedience”.

The system, in theory, has also provided an equal opportunity to all people who can afford to and good at memorization and are obedient. While somewhat flawed, it is much better than a system in which only one's blood matteres.

However, such a system does have its downside, people so educated can seldom look beyond Confucius, and their only ambition is to become a good civil servant (and engineer these days). Except for the Tang dynasty in which other cultures were welcomed and new ideas were absorbed, the Chinese culture at its best time is more like a well manufactured steam engine, humming along, but unlikely to fly.
(Disclaimer: my history knowledge is very limited, please take it easy in shooting back :)

With such a brilliant history and tradition, the Chinese education system is unlikely to change much soon. People trained in such a system find it very hard to comprehend the Western culture, including myself up to this day.

If I was still in China, I would never be able to explore the things I have explored so far. For example, as a poor kid from a poor area, in my high school years I had no clue what I wanted to do in the future, and I happened to be shuffled into a glorious field called foundry/casting/(shoveling sand). I would never be allowed to explore my interest or talent in areas other than “shoveling sand “ since the tender age of 16.  This has nothing to do with com-mu-nist so please relax. I thus shoveled sand for whole 8 years in Tsinghua. There is no way I would be allowed to or qualified to study “Ceramics” as later in Cambridge, almost zero chance to become a web software developer as I am now.

You may argue that the businesses in China is now offering more opportunities, but the education system is still very much the same, very hard for one to explore and switch.

It is almost incomprehensible to a Chinese educator that a person like Newton could exist, not in the sense of his ingenuity, but rather in the richness of his life. He made most of his contribution in mathematics (part of it also called mechanics nowadays) in his 20s or early 30s. He then spent 10 years or so fooling around trying to transform lead into gold with little success. He played with glasses (prism) in his bed to enjoy morning sunshine and made most his contribution in optics while dreaming of making gold. He then turned himself into a politician for a few years as parliament member. Later on he got a job as Royal Mint ‘Manager’ for many years and thus finally realized his dream of making gold (turning gold pieces into coins this time) and become wealthy. Finally he found a job as the President of Royal Society for the last two decades or so of his life, and from there launched many of his powerful attacks on his enemies. (by memory only, facts may not be accurate)

My point is that one of the defects in the Chinese education system lies in its failure to understand that its goal should be to give its students essential skills to explore and to think, rather than to stuff them with as much as possible “useful knowledge”. This is probably the major difference between a good institution, where many thinkers gather, and a so-so one where many knowledgeable followers flock around to brag whose bag of knowledge is bigger.

wish to hear other opinions.


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allgemein has been deleted
Post time 2003-10-6 16:49:23 |Display all floors

It is...

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Rank: 4

Post time 2003-10-7 11:08:00 |Display all floors


  Chinese culture calls for unity.
  China had an overpopulation and so it was no easy job to establish oneself in such a society. Most of those who wanted to get a fame, for himself and above all, for his family , had to be obedient. This, after a long history, was infused into the blood of the Chinese.
  And most of the teachers were those who failed in passing the imperial exams.That is to say, we didn't have good teachers in history. Only those lazy poor things acted as teachers. How could they teach inventively?
  And to memorize what others, including the so-called teachers, said is an easy way to study, without thinking with the most powerful organ--mind.
  The lazy and incapable teachers and lazy obedient students were in the classroom to spend their time in a strange way.

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Post time 2003-10-9 09:23:02 |Display all floors

You have a prejudice against the teachers.

In my opinion, I don't agree completely all. You put all the responsibility  of the traditional educational problem to the poor teachers who aren't the key factors.
I suppose the educational system is the root of the problem. But system is made and carried out by the people . Overpopulation and finacial resent state are the direct reasons.

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fengrufang has been deleted
Post time 2003-10-9 11:34:19 |Display all floors

i agree with you.

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greenlight has been deleted
Post time 2003-10-9 16:42:39 |Display all floors

agree with you.

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Post time 2003-10-10 11:59:18 |Display all floors

In fact

Recently, I have read an article about "the difference between west and east".The author says that the core difference is Chinese purse for similarity but the west people like dissimilarity.
It can be said that a lot of man have realised the question and understood that it is a crux  of  our education system even our society.But there is a big gap between theory and practise.You know that changing 5000 years culture is not an easy thing.Furthermore,we grow with this system,and these ideas have planted in our minds.Sometimes somedody wants to reform but you can imagine that he should conside the entire education environment.So we should give our nation some time.And I hope the authority can take some good measures to take our country to a bright future.

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