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Old 08-16-2012, 06:03 PM
even sven even sven is offline
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: DC
Posts: 19,401
I taught in a Chinese university, and I always have a little laugh when people laude the "Asian" education system. If the rest of Asia is anything like China (and I imagine it probably is not- I'm sure there are some huge differences) well...hahhahaha. The yellow menace isn't coming for us quite yet!

The Chinese education system was very good at rote tasks, not so good at much of anything else. The first time I gave a test, I was shocked that the students, to a man, memorized the book and wrote it word for word for the short answers. A quick comprehension test showed that while they had indeed memorized the book, nine times out of ten they had no idea what the sentence they wrote actually meant. That's just a small example, but show some of the reasons why China can have good primary education (which is a lot of rote learning) and not great secondary education (where really understanding and applying knowledge take precedence.)

Another example- in a typical Chinese hight school, they read no books. None. "Literature" consists of reading plot summaries, the background of the author, and a few quick passages. So you may meet someone who can converse quite competently about literature, but there is a good chance they've never actually cracked open the books they are talking about so well. Why waste all the time reading one book, when you can memorize the details of ten?

Chinese universities, even good ones, are a joke. I knew people teaching at maybe 50 universities, some of them quite good ones. Most of us were not allowed to fail students, or even give them low scores. Most of us had been forced to alter grades. Most of us were unable to do anything about plagiarism or absenteeism. Our students generally were studying something they had no interest in or input in, and were completely and totally disengaged. It was just a big play-act of a university. Graduate degrees are even worse. Students don't attend classes, there is no real pressure to write a thesis, and as far as I can tell grad school consists of sitting around doing whatever for a couple years and then getting a degree at the end. Many grad students don't even bother to live in the city of the school they are enrolled in (and no, they are not doing some kind of distance learning or field research.) I honestly can't even figure out what a grad degree in China even means, but I do know I'd never hire anyone based on having on.

Originally Posted by Maeglin View Post
Chinese universities are intellectual fraud factories. Here is just one recent perspective. It's small wonder that anyone who aspires to get out of China would be educated abroad.
This, as well. Even in very good universities, plagiarism and fraud are not only accepted, but actively encouraged. Yes, there are cultural reasons. But it impedes learning. Cheating is also huge. One of my friends specialized in selling tiny radios you put in your ears on test day to cheat with. I know other people who simply cut to the chase and bought their certifications.