Education Systems


Comparison of China and USA High Schools



What are the main differences between the Chinese and American approach to education?

In China, at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, Chinese parents consider the Chinese education system to be one of the best in the world, yet a growing number of Chinese parents are sending their kids to study High Schools in the US. So what are the reasons behind?

The two education systems serve different purposes

Many parents and educators view Chinese education as important for foundation, and American education as being helpful for the cultivation of students’ creativity. Chinese education focuses on the knowledge of accumulation, on how students manage and use the knowledge they learned in school, and on understandings of knowledge systems and structures. Americans are interested in how students use their knowledge in society. The American system lets students criticize ideas, and challenge as well as create concepts.

What is basic foundation education?

Using math as an example, in Chinese education, basic calculation skills are crucial so that students can remember an entire concept. From elementary school through high school, Chinese students are not allowed to use calculators. Chinese education focuses on strictness and precision, which improves retention. American education focuses on improving student assuredness, self-determination, and independence, which aids in comprehensive thinking. Most of the Chinese believe that Americans’ math is not the best. In comparing Chinese vs. American school approaches, one can easily understand why Chinese students get gold medals in Math Olympics Competitions, but Nobel Prize winners are often Americans.

The ways that American and Chinese students learn in classroom differ a lot

When they are doing homework, Chinese students just take notes and memorize the facts in textbooks. American teachers also assess students’ creativity, leadership, and cooperation skills. Emphasizing these skills encourages American students to take part in extracurricular activities. There are many ways for American students to become involved with their society. They believe that education is a part of life, not just part of school.

Education is culture

Different education systems reflect the cultural values in different societies. The American education system is good, but it may not be exactly right for Chinese society, and vice versa. Both education systems have room for improvement. Neither system is better than the other, but in the world of education, it is important to develop an international awareness and acceptance of different learning approaches, cultures and knowledge.

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