U.S. vs. China: Thoughtful Chinese Author Says U.S. Schools are Better
In my debates with American high-tech entrepreneur Bob Compton, I argue that U.S. schools are way ahead of the Chinese, and likely to stay there, at least in the production of creative, job-producing go-getters like Bob. Bob says I am not seeing what a great threat the rapidly improving Chinese education system is to our global economic superiority. Now we have a new book, "Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization," by someone who knows more about this than either Bob or me: Michigan State education professor Yong Zhao.
Just one of his chapters, number 4, "Why China Isn't a Threat Yet," is worth the $27 cost of the book. Born and raised in China himself, Zhao (pronounced Jow) describes in detail what our schools are doing well, and not so well, and does the same with China. He concludes that we are still ahead in developing creative thinkers. The Chinese won't be able to catch up until they do something about---don't laugh--their awful college entrance tests.
Theirs are much worse than the SAT, mostly because it is so much harder to get into a good university in China than in the USA. The competition, since they have so many more people, is horrid. The emphasis is on cramming to get a good score. The recommendations of teachers, so important to U.S. colleges looking for creatively gifted applicants, lose out in the crush of scores in China.
"Unless China drastically reforms the college admission system to expand the criteria beyond test scores on a few subjects, it is unlikely that any effort to nurture more creative talents and healthy students will bear fruit," Zhao says.
| August 18, 2009; 6:54 PM ET
Tags: U.S. vs. China; Jay Mathews; Bob Compton; global competition;
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