WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? CHINA vs. UNITED STATES
By Brittany Sparrow Abiel
There are significant differences in the K-12 system in Taiwan compared to America; beginning with the fact that you cannot just go to a good school based on your zip code
No school zones Preparation for education in Taiwan usually begins at the age of three. Students in Taiwan are not enrolled into the high school they are zoned for but are accepted depending on their test scores, talents and achievements, so parents start at an early age to advance their child’s math and reading performance as well as other special skills in order to give them a running start into the best high schools.
Testing –In Taiwan homework and daily assignments are given but, it is not the most important factor in order to graduate or pass a class. School assignments are considered preparation for one thing only, and that is testing. Taiwan leads with some of the highest student test scores in the world. During testing time you will not see children outside playing or participating in any extracurricular activities but rather in cram schools or at home studying and test are administered often. Parents are very involved in their children’s educations and parent participation is expected in the Taiwanese culture. If a child does not submit homework assignments or test poorly it is not just a reflection on the child or teacher but the parent’s involvement to help their child succeed.
Embarrassment or Praise Test scores are posted in the school hallways for everyone to see, Failing is no private matter in Taiwan, and is used to encourage students to study harder and achieve better scores in the future. Students who perform well are publicly acknowledged and receive rewards such as money, certificates, and other gifts. Teachers also can receive gifts and share the same amount of acknowledgement or embarrassment depending on how their students test.
Teacher pressure and parental participation is a major difference as to how public schooling differs in the U.S. Parental participation though desired and heavily courted, is not mandatory from parents in America’s public school system. Students are expected to be self-motivated and relay their assignments to their parents. Neither is testing a reflection of a student’s entire school year as class and homework assignments deciding factor into the student’s advancement to the next grade level.
The majority of Chinese students attend school from 7:30am-4:00pm and then go to after school programs arranged by their parents for tutoring. These programs may include music lessons, sports or some sort of specialized studies such as learning English as a second language. School hours are not as long in the U.S. leaving opportunity for creativity, sports, homework assignments and leisure time for students. Many Taiwanese agree that creativity and imagination are not focal points for their children. Most K-12 schools have a buffet of after school activities to choose from including band, drama, chorus and sports, but it is usually a choice by the student.
Chinese school systems are often scrutinized for rote memorization instead of making sure students really understand a subject. Often children will know multiplication facts as early as five years old and are almost fluent in a second language not including musical skills. This system is often a point of contention with most American parents, who feel that the happiness of their child is most important and are concerned as to whether pressure to perform will affect them. Preparation for the child’s future is more important in the Taiwanese school system and leads to less room for opinion or choices. In the U.S. public school systems the deciding factor comes down to the parents beliefs and goals for their child’s education. Both systems have their pros and cons but ultimately, parents are responsible for their children’s education health and should choose carefully what system works best for them and will insure the greatest return for their children’s future.