Educational difference – by Eric

I am half way through a book called “The Learning Gap”. It basically describes the differences of American, Japanese and Chinese education system. The author and his research group conducted research in all three countries. Chicago and Minneapolis public schools for the US; Sendai public schools for Japan; Beijing public schools for China. They gave students equivalent questions according to their language, and tested their academic achievement starting from kindergarten. I have read up to the section on elementary school. And I found so many interesting data by comparing the research they conducted. Aside from students’ lives in school, the book also digs deeper in what they do outside of class. For instance, when Japanese students reach fourth or fifth grade, they start to go to cram school in order to study ahead, whereas students in the US normally don’t.

Furthermore, parents’ attitudes and ways to raise their kids show a great disparity. Japanese parents shape their home as a study environment, and they feel a big responsibility towards their children’s education, whereas, in the US, most parents see the education part as a big responsibility of the teachers and the parent usually only answer trivial questions for the kids. I know this assumption differ between every family, but the general trend is shown through research.

Lastly, the pressure of failing on the children is also very different. Asian parents often remind their kids that if they fail to do well academically, they will bring shame to the entire family. The child realizes that his poor grades will be seen as his family’s irresponsibility towards his education. On the other hand, United States’ parents are more likely to say that “You should be ashamed of yourself”, which does not escalate this into another level — it is an individual not collective failure. I again want to emphasize that this assumption does not apply to every case, but the majority of the parents between these two countries have different attitudes and mindsets toward the word “education”.

— Eric Lin

1 thought on “Educational difference – by Eric

  1. margaretjhaviland

    Dear Eric,

    Why are the Chinese and Japanese looking to replicate some features of the American Education System? Two recent articles in the New York Times and the LA Times discuss this. And, the school system that is considered tops in the world right now is in Finland!


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