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Old 08-15-2012, 10:17 AM
Agent Foxtrot Agent Foxtrot is offline
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If Asian education systems are so rigorous, why do so many Asian students come to the U.S.?

I'm not sure if this is a GQ or a GD, but as a university student, this question has been burning me.

Both universities I've attended have an extremely large Asian student population (especially in the sciences), mostly Chinese and Korean.

Now my understanding is that Asian school systems are some of the most rigorous in the world. Early on the kids must master science, mathematics, music, and language, among other things, and must prove and reprove that mastery again and again. In fact, there exists a stereotype here in the U.S. that the Asian students are so well-educated, they make the American students look bad.

So if the above is true, why do so many Asian students come to the U.S. for college and graduate programs? I would imagine their university programs are better than ours since their grade schools do a better job of preparing them, right?
  #2  
Old 08-15-2012, 10:22 AM
elbows elbows is online now
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Far too few places is the reason, I think. They just don't have enough universities and, as a result standards for admission are near impossible.

Don't underestimate how highly education is valued in the lower classes of Asian culture. That motivates the kids enormously. Combine that with no sacrifice an Asian won't make, to secure an education for their child, and you end up with way more kids, wanting spaces than are available.
  #3  
Old 08-15-2012, 10:30 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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My father went through the UK school and university system. His opinion was that the UK, and presumably other places where the system was "good", segregated the college-track students fairly early on, and they learned more material and in more detail. The USA and Canada are notoriously egalitarian and teach the same lower level of detail to almost everyone up through high school.

Once they reach N. American undergraduate level, students specialize and then the University crams into them in 4 years what they should have been learning in the previous 4 years plus all the new material. By comparison, he said, UK university was much less intense because you already knew some of the material.

Graduate level - you ar dealing with some of the best minds in the world (in the right universities) and the interaction and breadth of exposure is what makes them good - not to mention the "snob" factor of a name university.

My impression from the media of Asian teaching (and Feynman also says this about Brazilian university) is that they promote rote learning and cramming. Despite modern "touchie feelie" thought about education, this process is probably best for learning the basics and the elementary material. Once you get to the graduate level, the need to think outside the box, to reason rather than regurgitate, is more important - and this is what the best universities anywhere are best at.

the old saw is that "universities are not teaching you the subject, they teach you to think" - that's not not too far off the mark.

Last edited by md2000; 08-15-2012 at 10:30 AM.
  #4  
Old 08-15-2012, 10:36 AM
Rhaegar Rhaegar is offline
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I have gone to school both in Asia and in the US, and I can personally attest to the rigorous standards of school in Asia, Hong Kong in my case. I remember going from 6th grade US math, which was pretty simple early Algebra stuff to having to learn Calculus in HK in the 7th grade. The Asian students learn material much earlier than the US students.

As for the reason why they come to the US for college, well there aren't that many colleges for them to go to. I don't know if it is still the case, but back in the day, in HK for instance, there were only about 3 pretty reputable universities. Getting in to one of those schools was very competitive, and certainly not all qualified students were granted a spot. Where are the rest to go?

Obviously the UK and the US are the most viable options as all the students already know some semblance of English. I went to school at UC Berkeley where the Asian student population during my era was 50%, and is probably higher now. I had a hard time competing against the blokes coming over from Asia, and the sad part was that they probably weren't even their top students, many of those having remained in Asia.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:42 AM
Rhaegar Rhaegar is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
My father went through the UK school and university system. His opinion was that the UK, and presumably other places where the system was "good", segregated the college-track students fairly early on, and they learned more material and in more detail. The USA and Canada are notoriously egalitarian and teach the same lower level of detail to almost everyone up through high school.
I think that you are correct in this regard. Whereas the US believes in "No child left behind," in Asia, the concept is usually the opposite - "No bright child held back by the underperforming children." The school I went to in Asia separated out the entire class with the "A" level students all together in one class for the entire day, and so on down the line until you have the bottom students in the "D" class. And this was the way they did it from elementary school through high school. You could move up and down in class from year to year depending on your test scores though. Pretty humiliating for the guys in the "D" class, but they definitely do not worry about coddling the kids and promoting their "self esteem." Its pretty much sink or swim, do it or not.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:46 AM
AaronX AaronX is offline
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As people have said, because they can't get into their local universities.

Also, as a prelude to migration. I think it's easier to get PR by studying than looking for a job.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:03 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Asian schools are considered better at the primary and secondary levels. At the university level, the United States has more premiere schools than any other country.

I've heard it described that at the lower levels, Asian schools prepare students better, but at the higher levels, American universities have a better atmosphere for excelling.
  #8  
Old 08-15-2012, 11:22 AM
Deeg Deeg is offline
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Has there been any study published that compares foreign and American students who attend American universities? It might be interesting although I could imagine that controlling for all the variables to be near impossible.
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:01 PM
Agent Foxtrot Agent Foxtrot is offline
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So if the problem is not enough universities, why not build more? Surely China in its pursuit of status as an economic superpower would sprout schools like weeds. Wouldn't priority be placed on keeping the best minds in China?
  #10  
Old 08-15-2012, 12:36 PM
Ruminator Ruminator is offline
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Originally Posted by Agent Foxtrot View Post
So if the problem is not enough universities, why not build more? Surely China in its pursuit of status as an economic superpower would sprout schools like weeds.
Its easy to build classrooms for students but it's much harder to build intangibles such as prestige and reputation. It would take a whole generation or more before local Chinese perceive their local universities as equal to (or better than) Stanford, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, etc.

As for 2nd tier non-Ivy League schools, I'm not sure how they're ranked in relation to the best China universities in Chinese minds.
  #11  
Old 08-15-2012, 01:02 PM
simple homer simple homer is offline
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I have been teaching in China for the past four years.
Many of the parents of my students have told me that they want their children to go to university in a Western country because Chinese schools do not teach children how to think.

Chinese students are discouraged from ever asking their teacher to explain anything that they do not understand. Memorizing facts and figures are important, understanding and creativity is not valued or encouraged.

Chinese universities do not have a very good reputation, and my understanding is that a diploma from a Chinese university is almost worthless outside of China.
Whereas a diploma from a Western university is valued almost anywhere in the world.
  #12  
Old 08-15-2012, 01:14 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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Originally Posted by simple homer View Post
I have been teaching in China for the past four years.
Many of the parents of my students have told me that they want their children to go to university in a Western country because Chinese schools do not teach children how to think.
This is the main reason. And if you've ever had to work with Chinese students who are completely incapable of critical reasoning skills, you know what homer is talking about.

My experience is that about half of the Chinese students I met were able to adapt and worked very hard at the reasoning skills and social skills (like, gasp, asking questions) necessary for a western education. The other half flunked out after a quarter or two.

Last edited by friedo; 08-15-2012 at 01:15 PM.
  #13  
Old 08-15-2012, 01:43 PM
Agent Foxtrot Agent Foxtrot is offline
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Okay, so is China too proud to admit that their way of teaching isn't the best? Maybe they could send a few educators to the U.S. to find out how we do it then bring that method home? Doesn't seem like rocket science to me.
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Old 08-15-2012, 01:44 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Changing the way educators and students interact with each other is not necessarily as easy as sending a few people over to observe and then transplant.
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Old 08-15-2012, 01:50 PM
elbows elbows is online now
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Far more expensive, to reform the Chinese higher education system, than to just send qualifying students overseas. Far less disruption and no admitting it's not 'the finest', clearly the better choice.
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Old 08-15-2012, 01:53 PM
simple homer simple homer is offline
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Originally Posted by Agent Foxtrot View Post
Okay, so is China too proud to admit that their way of teaching isn't the best?
In my opinion...... yes.


Of course there are some benefits to a Chinese education.
My students often surprise me with things that they know about history and geography.
But, it is probably asking too much to try to tell them that an educational system that has its roots in thousands of years of history might be flawed.

Another problem is overpopulation. China has hundreds of millions of students, with huge classes. An assembly line type education will get the students in and out, but does not leave any time for giving the students any individual attention.
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Old 08-15-2012, 01:54 PM
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But what about Japan? Tokyo Daigaku is, as far as I know, considered a damn good school by any standards, especially in computer and engineering fields at both the undergrad and grad levels. The sheer amount of AI (and not stupid stuff, you've seen how good some of Japan's robots are) research alone coming out of there is staggering.

Now, Tokyo Daigaku is really, really hard to get into (at the Undergrad level at least), hard enough that there are entire manga and anime in Japan centered entirely around trying to pass the entrance exams. But even Kyoto and Osaka Daigaku all the way down through Tokyo Metro are probably on par with most American schools. I don't think you'd have much of a problem getting hired (even in the US) if you went to Okayama Daigaku vs University of Rhode Island (or whatever).

Last edited by Jragon; 08-15-2012 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 08-15-2012, 01:57 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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Changing the way educators and students interact with each other is not necessarily as easy as sending a few people over to observe and then transplant.
Yes, it is a cultural thing. China has been essentially autocratic since the beginning of recorded history. Most aspects of their culture are based on indoctrination rather than education. Getting China to embrace the ideal of liberal education is like getting a third-world kleptocracy to embrace liberal democracy. Those values can not be bolted onto a culture with centuries of inertia pulling in a different direction. They have to be earned by a society as a whole and that takes many generations.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:02 PM
SecretaryofEvil SecretaryofEvil is offline
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Originally Posted by Agent Foxtrot View Post
Okay, so is China too proud to admit that their way of teaching isn't the best? Maybe they could send a few educators to the U.S. to find out how we do it then bring that method home? Doesn't seem like rocket science to me.
Unless they wanted to teach, I don't know, rocket science?

It is not unusual for an American university to be accused of just "selling diplomas." Imagine how much worse a problem like this would be in China.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:08 PM
simple homer simple homer is offline
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Unless they wanted to teach, I don't know, rocket science?

It is not unusual for an American university to be accused of just "selling diplomas." Imagine how much worse a problem like this would be in China.
Almost everything is for sell in China.
Many teachers have to pay the equivalent of one years salary, as a bribe, to buy their jobs.
Many students that do not do well on the entrance exam (gaokao) can buy their way into a university.
Students and parents are expected to gift their teachers with money in exchange for better scores, more attention in class, reference letters, etc.

That is why many teachers buy their jobs. The official salaries may be low, but the grey money will pay for their houses and cars.




.

Last edited by simple homer; 08-15-2012 at 02:10 PM.
  #21  
Old 08-15-2012, 02:10 PM
Ruminator Ruminator is offline
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The recent examples from Japan and India show that China could build prestigious schools if it really wanted to.

In India, the Indian Institutes of Technology was founded in 1950 and it has it highly respected today. Google and Microsoft actively recruit their students whereas they don't have any active recruitment events at University of Alabama.

IIT created a highly ranked school with desirable graduates in less than 2 generations.

I recently read a story about Microsoft creating university campuses in China. Don't remember if it was a partnership with Chinese government or a totally private endeavor. Maybe the new "prestige" schools will have to be built by some kind of hybrid institution consisting of investments from Western companies.
  #22  
Old 08-15-2012, 02:10 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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This is anecdote from my wife who's Japanese but she claims that by the time you enter high school your fate has been decided. By the time you complete what we would call 8th grade you are segregated into 2 groups - those bound for university and those bound for a trade school. For the latter group coming to America is a good path to a degree.
  #23  
Old 08-15-2012, 02:15 PM
simple homer simple homer is offline
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This is anecdote from my wife who's Japanese but she claims that by the time you enter high school your fate has been decided. By the time you complete what we would call 8th grade you are segregated into 2 groups - those bound for university and those bound for a trade school. For the latter group coming to America is a good path to a degree.
Similar in China. Students have very few choices in universities and even their majors.
The majority of my students did not choose their majors, it was all decided for them with tests.
  #24  
Old 08-15-2012, 03:04 PM
Vaevictis Vaevictis is offline
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Foreign students come to American universities and colleges because they are the best in the world. They do not come to the US for primary or secondary education because America's primary and secondary education is far from the best in the world.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:15 PM
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Foreign students come to American universities and colleges because they are the best in the world. They do not come to the US for primary or secondary education because America's primary and secondary education is far from the best in the world.
I'd argue that on average American universities are better than foreign universities. But at the top of the top levels, I don't think you're going to be getting many arguments that going to Cambridge, Oxford, Tokyo Daigaku, Indian Institute of Technology, etc for their best fields is clearly more or less prestigious than going to Harvard*, MIT, Stanford etc for similar fields.

* Aside from US Law, obviously, nobody going to say you should go to Britain to become a US lawyer.

Last edited by Jragon; 08-15-2012 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:17 PM
Ulfreida Ulfreida is offline
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Somewhat off-topic, I once asked a Swedish humanities professor who had occasion to teach American exchange students in Sweden, whether there were differences between the two populations and she immediately said that the main difference was that the Americans asked way more questions. So I guess it isn't just Asia.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:20 PM
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I think that's partially self selection. At best a question-asker in an American school is a "nerd," at worst they're ostricized for "being annoying" (or made fun of for "not knowing the answer"). But they also tend to be the best students. Which American students tend to participate in study abroad programs? The good ones. In my University classes 98% of students tend to be dead quiet except for one or two people asking questions, so I don't think it's that different on average. Though certainly it may be true that the best students elsewhere don't ask questions, I don't think that necessarily translates to "most American students ask questions."

Last edited by Jragon; 08-15-2012 at 03:23 PM.
  #28  
Old 08-15-2012, 03:22 PM
hogarth hogarth is offline
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So if the above is true, why do so many Asian students come to the U.S. for college and graduate programs?
For graduate programs, most of the Chinese grad students I've known have wanted to get jobs in North America (because the pay and/or lifestyle are better), and most North American employers have very little interest in candidates with only Chinese education and employment experience.

I can't speak for other Asian countries, but the vast majority of the Asian grad students I've known have been from China.
  #29  
Old 08-15-2012, 03:26 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
Asian schools are considered better at the primary and secondary levels. At the university level, the United States has more premiere schools than any other country.

I've heard it described that at the lower levels, Asian schools prepare students better, but at the higher levels, American universities have a better atmosphere for excelling.
My son who just finished four years of working for the Japan Exchange Teaching program (assistant teaching and the supervising his prefectures other assistant language teachers) has told me that in Japan the students work very hard to score high enough to get into the college programs, and then consider college a time to relax.

Much of the rest of Asia is a function of that big of an n. With populations that large the number of those more than qualified to do well in a competitive college environment is more than any reasonable number of spaces that countries relatively recently arrived economically have. A few decades and more colleges will open there to meet the demand but it takes time.

Finally it has been said - Asian education often emphasizes listening to the tacher well; American education at the college level often emphasizes learning how to ask the right questions of the teachers. That is actually something of value.
  #30  
Old 08-15-2012, 04:04 PM
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With populations that large the number of those more than qualified to do well in a competitive college environment is more than any reasonable number of spaces that countries relatively recently arrived economically have.
That's a very interesting sentence!

I had to read it more than once! It's a beauty!
  #31  
Old 08-15-2012, 04:36 PM
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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.
  #32  
Old 08-15-2012, 04:45 PM
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That's a very interesting sentence!

I had to read it more than once! It's a beauty!
To bastardize Twain (I think), I didn't have the time to write less!
  #33  
Old 08-15-2012, 05:03 PM
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I barely had any students from the PRC, several from ROC, South Korea, a few from Japan, and a lot from India.

The Indians I can particularly comment on. Sure, very rigorous educational system, at all levels. But very rote oriented. Just memorize a bunch of stuff, take a standardized test.

A lot of the ones I saw were superior students who hardly would have had a problem getting into a top school. (I taught Computer Science, so we got surprisingly familiar with some IITs. E.g., after we accepted a few grad students from one place, more would apply. The letters of recommendations would explicitly compare the applicants to ones we already had in our program. We got to know whose letters to trust, etc. If we had an Indian faculty member, that was a big help in understanding things.)

These were not rejects in any way.

After a bit we caught on: Great Indian undergrads sometimes don't make great PhD students. They wanted to be told what problem to work on, what the answer should be and then take a test. But a thesis is all about developing a question and finding the answer yourself. And writing a thesis is a whole different thing from taking a test.

So we looked more carefully at applicants. In particular, what sort of research projects had they worked on, could we get a copy of their papers, etc.?

Korea and the ROC just didn't have the quality of programs in CS, so going to the US was a must. Japan CS, OTOH, was pretty good. Far less interest in going to the US.

Computer Science might be something of a special case, for the era I taught, the US and a select few other places were the place you had to be if you wanted to really get to the leading edge. People need to be taught how to think.

But "rigorous" is not the same as "good", in my book. An education needs to be complete. Mere rote memorization isn't good once you get to the college level.
  #34  
Old 08-15-2012, 06:20 PM
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I taught at a large private university in Taiwan (Fu Jen Catholic University 辅仁大学) for several years.

From K through 12th grade students are pushed real hard with the culmination being the extremely difficult Country Wide University Entrance Exam.

The universities in Taiwan are ranked by the government and students who pass the exam are assigned to a particular university depending on their score. Students are even assigned a major!

The really odd thing though is that once they make it into a university, they are "home free". The professors do not push the students at all. Classes are relatively easy to pass and high scores are the norm. Its almost as if the students are being told that if they were smart enough to get into a university, they get a free pass toward a four year degree.

I didn't know this about universities in Taiwan and was quite hard on my students as far as homework and class exercises go. My general expectations were high and I taught that way. Often students would come to me and say that mine was the hardest class they had taken during their four years. I started to think that this was a ruse on their part to get me to stop assigning so much homework.

Fu Jen was not alone in this. The "home free' attitude appears to be the norm throughout Taiwan.

This may be another reason why students go abroad to study. They want a more rigorous educational experience.
  #35  
Old 08-15-2012, 09:14 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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It takes several generations to change educational attitudes enough to really affect the quality of university education. For instance, German universities were the best in the world from about the mid-nineteenth century to about the early twentieth century. They invented the modern academic world. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was fairly common for students from many countries (including the U.S.) to do their graduate work in Germany. There was a slow movement of German academics to other countries (including the U.S.) to teach there instead. Universities in various other countries were happy to get professors who already had some reputation in Germany. The professors were often happy to move to a university where they would be the most important professor in the department. This was only a slow process though, so up to the 1930's Germany still clearly had the best universities overall. What really changed things was Naziism and then World War II. A lot of professors (and not just Jewish ones) saw that it would be a good idea to get out of Germany.

For Chinese and Indian universities to reach the average quality of American universities (on the graduate level) would take the same slow process. There are some barriers to it. It wasn't a big deal for a German professor to move to the U.S. (or various other countries with a reasonable amount of German emigrants already). Nobody in those countries would be that surprised by being taught by a German, and doubtlessly many of the German professor's students and fellow professors would also be of German ancestry. You'll know that Chinese and Indian universities are of equal quality to American ones when a major American scholar who is not himself of Chinese or Indian ancestry decides to move to a Chinese or Indian university (respectively) simply because he can put together a better department there. In India that might be possible. In China it's hard to imagine.
  #36  
Old 08-15-2012, 11:41 PM
Throatwarbler Mangrove Throatwarbler Mangrove is offline
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Everyone want sot come to the US, because the US is the richest, most powerful country in the world. Why wouldn't they? I wouldn't want a Chinese education any more than I would want to drive a Chinese car or carry a Chinese handbag.

You seem to be under the impression that people go into university or any kind of schooling to get an education or to learn shit. Maybe some do but they surely are a tiny minority. A university education is a luxury status good and indicator of social class. The ruling elite of any society will always have some kind of ritual or shiboleth as part of their process of self perpetuation, to initiate the next generation into the ruling heirarchy. Whether it's joining the Communist Party, being ordained into the Catholic church, or attending an ivy league university the result is the same. The precise manner of the self flagellation used in the ritual, whether it be rote learning of Confucius or rolling around the dirt of the rugby field is irrelevant.

What the fuck do you learn in undergraduate classes that you can't learn from just reading Wikipedia?

Last edited by Throatwarbler Mangrove; 08-15-2012 at 11:43 PM.
  #37  
Old 08-15-2012, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Throatwarbler Mangrove View Post
You seem to be under the impression that people go into university or any kind of schooling to get an education or to learn shit. Maybe some do but they surely are a tiny minority.

...

What the fuck do you learn in undergraduate classes that you can't learn from just reading Wikipedia?

You've GOT to be fucking kidding. What a load of crap.
  #38  
Old 08-16-2012, 12:05 AM
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What the fuck do you learn in undergraduate classes that you can't learn from just reading Wikipedia?
1) A professor helps focus and frame. I can't read all of Wikipedia; I cannot read all there is to know. A class on a subject filters to some smaller portion of the universe of knowledge that is hopefully a more useful subset than what I may randomly choose to read and places it within a context that I might not otherwise have.

2) How to better critically evaluate the information available and how to develop and articulate more cogent and salient questions. Now the professors (and TAs) are part of that process but classmates are often more important.

3) And related information and exposures from other students and professors that trigger curiosity and interest in subjects that I had never before realized were so interesting.

To the degree that the class is reading, memorizing, regurgitating, and then often with the same efficiency, forgetting as new information pushes it out of the way, well then all it does is put a deadline on having accomplished one or another task.

Some schools are more one way than the other. Some societies' schools are more one way than another.
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:06 AM
denquixote denquixote is offline
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Positive reinforcement.
  #40  
Old 08-16-2012, 01:14 AM
kob09 kob09 is offline
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Far too few places is the reason, I think. They just don't have enough universities and, as a result standards for admission are near impossible.

Don't underestimate how highly education is valued in the lower classes of Asian culture. That motivates the kids enormously. Combine that with no sacrifice an Asian won't make, to secure an education for their child, and you end up with way more kids, wanting spaces than are available.
Realistic description.. especially in China where you can't get your kids into official schools if you have too many of them I would think alrenatives like an education in a foreign country are very appealing
  #41  
Old 08-16-2012, 04:00 PM
Tastes of Chocolate Tastes of Chocolate is offline
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Originally Posted by Throatwarbler Mangrove View Post
What the fuck do you learn in undergraduate classes that you can't learn from just reading Wikipedia?
Really? You think you can learn to design and run a petroleum distillation column from Wikipedia? Do you want Wiki-taught teachers in front of the 8th graders? Maybe a Wiki-degree will let you optimize an air handling unit to go into new World Trade Center buildings?

I know a bunch of engineers and teachers, who learned how to do their jobs in undergraduate classes, not Wikipedia.
  #42  
Old 08-16-2012, 04:16 PM
XT XT is online now
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Originally Posted by Jragon View Post
But what about Japan? Tokyo Daigaku is, as far as I know, considered a damn good school by any standards, especially in computer and engineering fields at both the undergrad and grad levels. The sheer amount of AI (and not stupid stuff, you've seen how good some of Japan's robots are) research alone coming out of there is staggering.

Now, Tokyo Daigaku is really, really hard to get into (at the Undergrad level at least), hard enough that there are entire manga and anime in Japan centered entirely around trying to pass the entrance exams. But even Kyoto and Osaka Daigaku all the way down through Tokyo Metro are probably on par with most American schools. I don't think you'd have much of a problem getting hired (even in the US) if you went to Okayama Daigaku vs University of Rhode Island (or whatever).
My WAG here would be that Chinese students would be uncomfortable going to a university in Japan (this is a vast understatement), and probably vice versa. Same goes for Korean students. I'm sure it happens, but I'd guess that they would be MUCH more comfortable going to university in the US or another Western country. There is a lot of bad blood in the region concerning the Japanese...and it goes both ways.
  #43  
Old 08-16-2012, 05:03 PM
even sven even sven is offline
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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.

Quote:
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.
  #44  
Old 08-16-2012, 05:30 PM
Jragon Jragon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XT View Post
My WAG here would be that Chinese students would be uncomfortable going to a university in Japan (this is a vast understatement), and probably vice versa. Same goes for Korean students. I'm sure it happens, but I'd guess that they would be MUCH more comfortable going to university in the US or another Western country. There is a lot of bad blood in the region concerning the Japanese...and it goes both ways.
My point had nothing to do why Chinese and Korean students don't go to Japan, I'm well aware of the historical animosity between different Southeast Asian countries. My point was this is a thread about East Asia and I was questioning why at least a moderate number of Japanese students come here, rather than going to the (imo) very good, perfectly well respected schools over there.

Last edited by Jragon; 08-16-2012 at 05:33 PM.
  #45  
Old 08-16-2012, 05:48 PM
Jragon Jragon is offline
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Originally Posted by even sven View Post
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.
I really have to be fair with the plagiarism. It's prevalent, yes, but the cultural reasons are about emulating the masters, rather than redoing the entire history of things that have already been figured out. In some ways the Chinese view is very useful, it doesn't advocate reinventing the wheel like a lot of American schools do.

That said, there are better ways to do it than the way China does, since they take it way, way too far. At my (American) University, in Computer Science we're perfectly allowed to implement standard algorithms or use sample code with attribution, they actively encourage not reinventing the wheel. However, they also specify that we pretend the wheel hasn't been invented yet for the ultimate task of the current class project. In other words, small parts may be recycled, but the whole package must ultimately be novel.

I think for China to really become a power in education, they have to do what Japan did with their manufacturing and technology industry. Japan, culturally, believe that tiny imperfections make the work "complete" or "better" in some fashion. But they're also prudent, and realized nobody wants to buy stuff with imperfections outside of Japan (and nowadays, one may argue, in Japan either), so they abandoned that notion in everything except perhaps art. And lo and behold, their manufacturing and technology industries are some of the best on the planet.

China really could be a world power in a lot of things if it was willing to sit back and evaluate in what ways it can change the "Chinese way" without outright abandoning it to serve their needs. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like they're at the point where they're motivated to fully undergo that introspection and cultural change as a nation (though one can see the mentality them trying on occasion).
  #46  
Old 08-16-2012, 05:52 PM
cckerberos cckerberos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XT View Post
My WAG here would be that Chinese students would be uncomfortable going to a university in Japan (this is a vast understatement), and probably vice versa. Same goes for Korean students. I'm sure it happens, but I'd guess that they would be MUCH more comfortable going to university in the US or another Western country. There is a lot of bad blood in the region concerning the Japanese...and it goes both ways.
Not to single you out, but... there are massive numbers of Chinese students studying at Japanese universities. There were 141,000 foreign students at Japanese universities last year. 92,000 (65%) were Chinese/Taiwanese (By way of comparison there were 157,000 Chinese students in the US last year.) Having a Japanese degree is very prestigious in China.
  #47  
Old 08-16-2012, 06:07 PM
cckerberos cckerberos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jragon View Post
But what about Japan? Tokyo Daigaku is, as far as I know, considered a damn good school by any standards, especially in computer and engineering fields at both the undergrad and grad levels. The sheer amount of AI (and not stupid stuff, you've seen how good some of Japan's robots are) research alone coming out of there is staggering.

Now, Tokyo Daigaku is really, really hard to get into (at the Undergrad level at least), hard enough that there are entire manga and anime in Japan centered entirely around trying to pass the entrance exams. But even Kyoto and Osaka Daigaku all the way down through Tokyo Metro are probably on par with most American schools. I don't think you'd have much of a problem getting hired (even in the US) if you went to Okayama Daigaku vs University of Rhode Island (or whatever).
A lot of it is pure hype based on how hard it is to get in, especially when it comes to undergraduates. Once they're in it's virtually impossible to fail out (my friends who taught there and elsewhere were told not to fail students). In a way college is a reward for all the hard work they did up til that point and a break before they have to go suffer as a salaryman/OL for 40 years.

I went to graduate school at one of the above school (not Okayama or Tokyo Metro ). My Japanese classmates were all quite bright outside of class but in classes they were stone-faced. No one ever asked questions or challenged anything the professor said, even when the professor bent over backwards to encourage it (the professors were really quite good).
  #48  
Old 08-17-2012, 07:16 AM
truthSeeker2 truthSeeker2 is offline
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Reasons for Indians coming to the US for education:
1. More opportunities for Masters and for Phd.
2. Better money.
3. Better lifestyle.
4. The US is an English speaking country. Indians dont have problem with English although our accent may sound ridiculous(esp. the older generation).
5. Charm for traveling and for wanting to interact with different people around the world .

Reasons #2 and #3 are gradually limiting as India is growing.

Last edited by truthSeeker2; 08-17-2012 at 07:17 AM.
  #49  
Old 08-17-2012, 12:37 PM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
I've heard it described that at the lower levels, Asian schools prepare students better, but at the higher levels, American universities have a better atmosphere for excelling.
No cite, but based on several articles I've read, and conversations with foreign students:

* Universities in the US and Canada are the most rigorous in the world. That's not to say that American party schools offer a better education than Oxford, but a so-so state school with a compass direction in its name will be more academically rigorous than a typical well-regarded school in many other countries.

* Prestige when job hunting. A "quality" North American education, knowledge of enough English to pass the TOEFL and make it through graduation, experiences from living in a different culture, and so on, all give a returning foreign student a huge advantage over their competitors.

* As others have said, there's not enough colleges and universities in other countries to meet student demand. The quality drops off dramatically from the upper echilon of elite schools. If you're a very intelligent Indian from a middle class family, and you can't get into IIT, it's either going to be a crappy upstart school locally, or a highly rated school in the US where you'll be among your intellectual peers. I've met Indian students in town that had their pick of any Ivy, but still couldn't get into IIT.

* Active recruitment by American schools. They WANT foreign students, because most pay full price.

* In India, a young man or woman who's an "Amreeka return" is considered very desirable in the dating/matrimony market. Supposedly, in India, a man with a US college/university degree is the equivalent of a six digit income, 6' tall, six pack abs, and nine in... well, you get the idea, stateside.
  #50  
Old 08-17-2012, 07:11 PM
BigT BigT is online now
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Here's a question: based on what you've said, one would expect higher Japanese populations in lower tiered colleges, since, if they could get into the higher ones, they could likely get into the ones in their own country. Is this the case? Is there a disproportionally smaller number of Japanese natives in schools like Harvard or Yale than in secondary state colleges, like say, my alma mater Arkansas Tech?
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