Do Students in China Spend too Much Time and Energy Attempting to Achieve High Grades?

Do Students in China Spend too Much Time and Energy Attempting to Achieve High Grades?

One of the definitions of education is the imparting of culture from generation to generation. it is true that a Chinese student of our time faces the problem of spending too much time and energy attempting to achieve high grades. The endless testing and the great quantity of homework become the characteristics of China's education. More and more people believe that China should reform its education system so that it allows the future generations to be competitive in the fast-pace(d) world. The system needs to change so that it does not solely focus on standardized tests and routine homework. Instead the system should mainly support EQ testing and hands on learning.

First, standardized tests were one of the most important indicators included in the Chinese educational system. (The) IQ test, which was designed and introduced by David Wechsler in 1939, is widely used in tests for preschool children.[1]Ye Xin, who is a famous expert of education in China, point(s) out that today, giving their children IQ tests is increasingly popular among parents. Plenty of parents who gave their children IQ tests wanted to respond to teachers' "opinions" about their children, and show others that their children are not "mentally-retarded." Other parents have sought to find the reasons in terms of intelligence and try to find the reasons behind why the academic records of their children are so poor. (awk) Some parents simply said that since their children are about to enter primary or middle school, a high IQ certificate may be able to help them enter into better schools and even experimental classes for gifted students. Due to the lack of other standardized tests, the key middle schools also think that (the) IQ test score is a standard of a "good student". However, Emotion Quotient (EQ) is more important than IQ nowadays. A student who has a high EQ can always keep their emotions stable, so that they can do things that they want easily. Besides that, students with a high EQ can express their feelings with reason, logic and reality. They are not the salve to negative emotion, such as fear, worry and guilt. Stephen Howe said the following in his essay, “You probably know of a few people in your life that always did well in school, went to a fine university and graduated with honors, yet years later are still struggling to find a suitable job or career path. Conversely, there are hundreds of stories about people from mediocre academic backgrounds who went on to have enormous success in business. Many behavioral experts have attributed this phenomenon to EQ. You have likely seen it in your shops: Of two people with seemingly equal product knowledge and technical skills, both hard workers, one clearly outperforms the other. In some sense, this means that although both have knowledge and skills, the one with the higher EQ is likely more "trainable" - in both self-paced and structured learning environments. It is not that high-EQ people have unlimited skills and abilities, it is that they are more aware of their limits and gaps, and seek to improve. Both high-IQ and high-EQ people will occasionally fail at a task or receive negative feedback from a superior. Where a high-IQ person might treat this as a slap in the face, the high-EQ person has the ability to step back and look honestly and logically at what actually happened. Thus, their road to corrective action is much straighter and shorter.” Stephen Howe 36 in the movie RSA Animate Changing Education Paradigms, the director clearly point(s) out that in the present mode of education, we lost many good students, because they seemed "clumsy” in the education system which were based on the score. This is a disaster for humanity.

The National Higher Education Entrance Examination, or commonly known as Gao Kao, is an academic examination held annually in the mainland of the People's Republic of China. This examination is a prerequisite for entrance into almost all higher education institutions at the undergraduate level. It is usually taken by students in their last year of high school. Different from American education system, The National Higher Education Entrance Examination is the sole criterion for the University to choose its student. Mark Magnier, who is a Staff Writer in (at) (The) Los Angle(s) Time(s), said that the National Higher Education Entrance Examination is not a forgiving process. Chinese college admissions officers don't look at your high school grades, personal interviews, recommendations or essays in making their decisions. They don't make allowances if you don't test well. They won't even cut you slack if your mother died the day before. Everything, countless years of sacrifice and hard work, boils down to this one test. Those who perform miserably have to wait another year to take the exam. Scoring system has become a constraint of China's educational system.

Second irrational structure of the education system led to the explosive growth of homework and the changing of learners’ goals. Students have been forced to spend most of their time in their studies, because the exam score is recognized as the sole standard of higher schools’ entrance. Most of the parents’ also believe that the only way to survive in the competitive society is to study hard every day to get high scores homework. For instance, according to Jay Mathews’ essay, University of Michigan study shows that the amount of homework assigned to kids from ages 6 to 9 almost tripled in the 1990s is true but misleading. Daily homework for 6 to 8 years old students increased from 8 minutes in 1981 to 22 minutes in 2003. Even when tripled, that homework took less time than watching an episode of "Hannah Montana Forever."(Jay Mathews, B2) However, extra studies bring about unhealthy impact on physical growth on children. Mark Magnier, also points out that “enduring up to six hours of homework and cram school classes a day for years also threatens to heighten anxiety levels and rob students of their youth. At Beijing's Sunshine Heart Mental Consulting Center, the number of calls to its hotline and face-to-face consultations exceeded 100 a day in the weeks before the exam. Among the common exam-related symptoms its workers see are irregular heartbeats, eating disorders, sleeplessness, short-term memory loss and shaking hands” At the same time, more and more people believe that it is very important to do something children want to instead of extra studies after a while day spent studying. Thomas Jefferson said, “A free man obtains knowledge from many sources beside books.” Students in the period of fast physical development needs exercise; the extra studies which is in order to achieve a high score will squeeze the time for physical exercise so that produce disastrous influence on the student’s life. In additional, students will have less time to communicate with other peer(s) due to the extra studies. Due to the lack of communication, it is difficult to train their interpersonal skills. This may result in communication barriers and psychological diseases. In additional, homework will increase the educational system to focus on grades more. According to Diana Strzalka’s research, students are stressed, family time is disrupted, and sometimes there isn't enough time for children to simply play or do other activities because they have too much homework. On top of that, doctors say heavy backpacks are leading to back, neck and shoulder pain.

Additionally, the changing of learners’ goals is the other side effect of the irrational structure of the Chinese educational system. In motivational theories, learners’ goals can affect the way they use in their academic learning. According to the Marilla D Svinicki’s new easy, he describes a classical research : “Janzow and Eison (1990) wrote a very illuminating chapter in an issue of New Directions for Teaching and Learning about a topic that persists as a thorn in the side of all teachers even today. The topic was student orientation toward grades and the influence of that orientation on all they do in a course. Janzow and Eison asserted that students displayed two basic orientations toward their studies: a grade orientation (working for the grade) or a learning orientation (working to learn). They even described an instrument that would allow instructors to identify these tendencies in their students. This chapter struck a chord with so many faculties because it reflected the all too often seen "nails on the blackboard" attitude of some students to be interested only in the grades they were getting rather than in learning anything. Actually that's not totally fair; students are usually interested in learning something from their classes, but they are strategic enough to realize that the real currency of the marketplace is the grade they earn, not what they learn.” (Marilla D Svinicki, 4) From what has been described above, we can deduce that some students, whose goal is mastery of their subject, will focus on how to increase their knowledge and ability, and they will seek opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. On the other hand, other students, whose goal is to have a high score of their subject, will focus on how to increase their grades, and they will avoid tests and performances because they fear to fail. Research has found that mastery goal has many advantages for people’s learning, such as persistence in the face of failure, performance of challenging tasks, and better creativity. At the same time, score goal has many disadvantages for people’s learning, such as poor concentration while studying, disorganized studying, and less-regulation. The advantage of a score based the educational system is motivation. It can motivate students to work hard, so that they can improve academic performances.

Finally, the Chinese form of teaching is lecturing. The teacher stands on a platform in front of the class to talk about his or her understanding on some topics. There are several shortcomings of this method. First of all, as we know, no human is perfect sometimes, the teacher's idea is wrong, but our education system forces us to accept this kind of wrong idea without preservation. In America, the teacher will not tell the student what he or she thinks is right, but enlighten the students to find the result or answer or discuss this topic in the class. On the one hand, this will motivate the knowledge-searching appetite. On the other hand, this will give the students (ability to depend on themselves, to solve problem on their own way and to develop different characters. This is why in China, our students are very dependent. In newspapers, we will always read articles relating the dependency of students. For example, there might be articles stating how college students don’t know how to wash clothes. In China, our students are almost all test machines, which means they can get high grades in exams but cannot use it in life. Let’s take English study as example. No matter TOFEL or GRE, our Chinese students all can get a very high score, even better than those Native English speakers, but many of these talents cannot communicate while studying aboard or encountering foreigners. The American Education Bureau suspects that Chinese students cheat in the exam. When your idea or opinion is against your teacher, so called authority, instead ask you to find the result by yourself or search according to your idea, they will force you to comply with them. That is why we cannot keep up with the development of hi-tech advancement in the world. There is a very popular saying in the world “Chinese high school students are the best in the world, college students are mediocre, masters are backward, and doctors are nothing.” Without the leading of teachers, our students can do nothing. Nicholas D. Kristof, who is a famous jealous in The New York Time(s), wrote the following sentence in his article, “But this is the paradox: Chinese themselves are far less impressed by their school system. Almost every time I try to interview a Chinese about the system here, I hear grousing rather than praise. Many Chinese complain scathingly that their system kills independent thought and creativity, and they envy the American system for nurturing self-reliance — and for trying to make learning exciting and not just a chore. In Xian, I visited Gaoxin Yizhong, perhaps the city’s best high school, and the students and teachers spoke wistfully of the American emphasis on clubs, arts and independent thought. “We need to encourage more creativity,” explained Hua Guohong, a chemistry teacher. “We should learn from American schools.” One friend in Guangdong Province says he will send his children to the United States to study because the local schools are a “creativity-killer.” Another sent his son to an international school to escape what he likens to “programs for trained seals.” Private schools are sprouting everywhere, and many boast of a focus on creativity. For my part, I think the self-criticisms are exactly right, but I also deeply admire the passion for education and the commitment to making the system better. And while William Butler Yeats was right that “education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire,” it’s also true that it’s easier to ignite a bonfire if there’s fuel in the bucket. The larger issue is that the greatest strength of the Chinese system is the Confucian reverence for education that is steeped into the culture. In Chinese schools, teachers are much respected, and the most admired kid is often the brain rather than the jock or class clown. ” After 60 years of development, China's educational system tends to be conservative and focused on the authority. Students' creativity has been totally weakened. Actually, Skepticism, which is respected by the Western education, is very importent in the education. Clarence Darrow said, “As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.”

In conclusion, China should reform its system, which seems to be the most standard way of learning sometimes. As discussed above, there are many issues with the current system that could and should be fixed.

Jay Mathews. “Too few do too much homework” The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Apr 4, 2011. pg. B.2. Proquest Research Library. ProQuest. Web. 1 Aug 2011.

Diana Strzalka. “How much homework is too much?” Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Ill. Oct 28, Proquest Research Library. ProQuest. Web. 1 Aug 2011.

Marilla D Svinicki. “Student Goal Orientation,Motivation,and Learning” Accounting Education News. Spring 2005. Vol. 33, Iss. 3; pg.7, 4 pgs. Proquest Research Library. ProQuest. Web. 1 Aug 2011.

Stephen Howe. “IQ Versus EQ”. Fleet Maintenance. Fort Atkinson: Oct 2010. Vol. 14, Iss. 9; pg. 36, 2 pgs. Proquest Research Library. ProQuest. Web. 1 Aug 2011.

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