Homeschooling Moms

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KickButtMama
How the Chinese do it (kind of extensive)
January 26 at 10:19 PM

 One thing I'm often asked about, when it comes to teaching math & science, is why the Chinese do so much better at math than the US. There are a few things that they do differently than we do here but for the most part it is cultural. They truly believe it is no ok to say 'I'm just not good at math'. Perhaps this is why in 2011 40% of Chinese college graduates were in degrees of Math, Sciences & Engineering, compared to the 5-9% in the US.

Comparisons:

*Math is taught only by specialists in China- even in elementary school. Whereas in the US elementary teachers teach everything. IN fact a poll a few years ago determined that many teachers felt uncomfortable teaching math. Especially since most teachers with a bachelors degree can have as little as 6-12 hours of mathematics education themselves.

*Environment -in China school rooms are clean and empty. Students stay in one room and teachers travel from room to room. This means no one teacher can decorate the room with pretty posters or eye catching things. In fact, until the last couple of years there was no area in a Chinese classroom that even promoted group discussion. THe focus is on what is being taught.

*Emotion -One major difference is teachers (and even HS mom's can be guilty) in the US pus for comfort and happiness in the Present. Whereas Chinese teachers feel that focusing on academics - developing a solid understanding of math and science, will allow for easy entry to college, and therefore translate into a comfortable job - thus happiness and comfort in the Future.

*Testing - Testing in China is done twice, and they are entrance exams - to get into Middleschool and to get into High School. You qualify, at the High School level to either go to a general education high school or to a trade school. They feel that focusing on entrance exams only will also help a student better prepare for entrance exams for college. Where as testing in the US can determine everything from a teachers pay, to the amount of funding given to schools. I think everyone (at least in all the research I've done) agrees standardized testing doesn't really give an accurate representation of the Knowledge a child has, or their true progress.

My Application:

So, how do I as a child-led learner, reconcile my push for greater math & science understanding? Well, one thing is in the practical application of math & science. Kids are like little curious sponges. My kids want remote controlled helicopters or cars? Then they have to build them. They want a 3DS? Then I bought them a broken on and they had to learn to fix it. They wanted to build a time traveling machine in the back yard? Well they watched Dr. Who as well as a documentary on how the science of Dr. Who is being worked on by scientists today.

I've taught algebra (and even trig & calculus) to 10 y/o's by just putting the terminology into vocabulary they can understand. How many times in high school did one say or hear "When will I ever use this, really?" I know I did it a lot. Even though we don't use worksheets, and very few textbooks. There are may instances where we more resemble Chinese style of methodology in mathematics and sciences than we do US.

For more on Chinese mathematics check out the following:

http://wenr.wes.org/2012/07/wenr-junejuly-2012-senior-secondary-mathematics-education-in-china/

http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2013/10/math-instruction-china-effective/

Replies

  • SarahNElijah
    January 26 at 11:24 PM
    I was trying to find this link my mom had sent me about an American who had gone over to a school in Japan I believe..

    He talked about the difference between what we value in the classroom. In America, we tend to value getting the correct answer, whereas in Japan, he said, the focus was on hard work..

    He talked about how in an American classroom, the students who have the right answer are the ones who are called to the blackboard to demonstrate, whereas in Japan, after the students had tried to do the problem on their own, the teacher called one of the students to the board who did not get the correct answer on his own.

    The boy wrote out the problem and attempted to solve it (incorrectly), and the teacher asked the class, 'Is this correct?' 'No,' the students answered. The American talked about feeling uncomfortable for the boy, yet the boy tried again, and again, until he was able to get the right answer, upon which the whole class applauded him.

    I wish I had the article to link, but it definitely hit home for me, in that we put too much emphasis on already knowing the right answer (with praise, good grades, etc) as opposed to the process and hard work of learning something that you didn't already know or understand!
  • katyq
    by katyq
    January 27 at 12:49 AM

    I lived in China briefly and my best friend ran a western college prep school there. Her students had no idea that plants make food from sunlight. They also didn't know what Is happening in Tibet, they "thought" that Tibetans are Chinese and loving it. I am not a fan of their education system. They go to school from sun up to sun down but don't gain enough knowledge to write papers that can be published in international journals (see: Chinese ideas on plagiarism). And yes, they don't test but twice which leads too many students into becoming super lazy with school, which then leads them to become extraordinarily stressed when testing FINALLY rolls around. Have you read up on their teen suicide rate? Also, you can freely buy your way through college there. If you fail, you simply pay a set sum to the school and you are then given a passing grade.  I could go on but I made my view clear I think. :p One system that I truly do admire is that of Singapore and it is their style and methods that I will use with my son. 

  • katyq
    by katyq
    January 27 at 12:51 AM

    The Japanese spend literally double the classroom hours actively learning than we do here in the U.S. It's crazy. They do start out with more hours in the academic year but still, they do something right that we haven't figured out, or that we have forgotten.

    Quoting SarahNElijah: I was trying to find this link my mom had sent me about an American who had gone over to a school in Japan I believe..

    He talked about the difference between what we value in the classroom. In America, we tend to value getting the correct answer, whereas in Japan, he said, the focus was on hard work..

    He talked about how in an American classroom, the students who have the right answer are the ones who are called to the blackboard to demonstrate, whereas in Japan, after the students had tried to do the problem on their own, the teacher called one of the students to the board who did not get the correct answer on his own.

    The boy wrote out the problem and attempted to solve it (incorrectly), and the teacher asked the class, 'Is this correct?' 'No,' the students answered. The American talked about feeling uncomfortable for the boy, yet the boy tried again, and again, until he was able to get the right answer, upon which the whole class applauded him.

    I wish I had the article to link, but it definitely hit home for me, in that we put too much emphasis on already knowing the right answer (with praise, good grades, etc) as opposed to the process and hard work of learning something that you didn't already know or understand!


  • KickButtMama
    January 27 at 9:14 AM

    I in no way support China's political regime. My discussion was only about their approach to math and sciences. I also should have been more clear, that the 40% of Chinese who gain degrees in math, sciences and engineering got those degrees at US Colleges. So they must have some ability to write papers and such.

    and my post was in response to direct questions I've been asked repeatedly. As a homeschooler it's impossible for me to completely judge an educational system which doesn't include homeschooling....obviously my living room doesn't resemble a Chinese classroom. 

    Quoting katyq:

    I lived in China briefly and my best friend ran a western college prep school there. Her students had no idea that plants make food from sunlight. They also didn't know what Is happening in Tibet, they "thought" that Tibetans are Chinese and loving it. I am not a fan of their education system. They go to school from sun up to sun down but don't gain enough knowledge to write papers that can be published in international journals (see: Chinese ideas on plagiarism). And yes, they don't test but twice which leads too many students into becoming super lazy with school, which then leads them to become extraordinarily stressed when testing FINALLY rolls around. Have you read up on their teen suicide rate? Also, you can freely buy your way through college there. If you fail, you simply pay a set sum to the school and you are then given a passing grade.  I could go on but I made my view clear I think. :p One system that I truly do admire is that of Singapore and it is their style and methods that I will use with my son. 


  • katyq
    by katyq
    January 27 at 12:07 PM

    Sorry, I wasn't trying to come off rude or anything. I was just expressing my suprise.

    Quoting KickButtMama:

    I in no way support China's political regime. My discussion was only about their approach to math and sciences. I also should have been more clear, that the 40% of Chinese who gain degrees in math, sciences and engineering got those degrees at US Colleges. So they must have some ability to write papers and such.

    and my post was in response to direct questions I've been asked repeatedly. As a homeschooler it's impossible for me to completely judge an educational system which doesn't include homeschooling....obviously my living room doesn't resemble a Chinese classroom. 

    Quoting katyq:

    I lived in China briefly and my best friend ran a western college prep school there. Her students had no idea that plants make food from sunlight. They also didn't know what Is happening in Tibet, they "thought" that Tibetans are Chinese and loving it. I am not a fan of their education system. They go to school from sun up to sun down but don't gain enough knowledge to write papers that can be published in international journals (see: Chinese ideas on plagiarism). And yes, they don't test but twice which leads too many students into becoming super lazy with school, which then leads them to become extraordinarily stressed when testing FINALLY rolls around. Have you read up on their teen suicide rate? Also, you can freely buy your way through college there. If you fail, you simply pay a set sum to the school and you are then given a passing grade.  I could go on but I made my view clear I think. :p One system that I truly do admire is that of Singapore and it is their style and methods that I will use with my son. 



  • julesjerry
    January 27 at 12:09 PM

    Very well written and so true.  In India, the school are same like China (students sits in one class and teacher travel. Teachers are specialized in each subject. Math teacher with bachelor degree IN MATH with early childhood education can teach up to elementary math). And they do testing every 3 months (just to know whether he child learn what they teach for 3 months and is he ready to take next level) and one final exam at the end of each year. If the child pass then he gets to move on. Otherwise he has to sit in the same class.

    Each country schooling is different. I would like to know about UK schooling does anyone know about it ?

  • celtic77dragon
    January 27 at 12:41 PM

    I am with you on the fact that I can't behind some of the bs China does - especially with the Tibetan situation!! ((love and respect to Ghandi for his humble and epic message)).

    I know you were just trying to share some of the not so glamorous aspects of their education system as well.

    However, much of what Shannon said DOES also apply for Singapore as well. I do not know a whole lot about the Chinese education system - However, I HAVE researched a lot concerning Singapore and Finlands education systems. They are superior!    

        

    Quoting katyq:

    I lived in China briefly and my best friend ran a western college prep school there. Her students had no idea that plants make food from sunlight. They also didn't know what Is happening in Tibet, they "thought" that Tibetans are Chinese and loving it. I am not a fan of their education system. They go to school from sun up to sun down but don't gain enough knowledge to write papers that can be published in international journals (see: Chinese ideas on plagiarism). And yes, they don't test but twice which leads too many students into becoming super lazy with school, which then leads them to become extraordinarily stressed when testing FINALLY rolls around. Have you read up on their teen suicide rate? Also, you can freely buy your way through college there. If you fail, you simply pay a set sum to the school and you are then given a passing grade.  I could go on but I made my view clear I think. :p One system that I truly do admire is that of Singapore and it is their style and methods that I will use with my son. 


  • RyansMom001
    January 27 at 12:58 PM

    These are some great observations about the differences in school systems. 

     I've been curious myself about the differences in school systems.  I read an article once that explored the relationship between Chinese students' math ability and working in rice fields.  In the article it stated that Chinese students living in areas where rice was the main crop are the ones who really excel at math.  Rice farming requires a lot of discipline and attention to detail.  The amount of water and other things necessary for a rice crop require focus and attention.

     

    The article went on to point out that most Asian cultures are centered on paying close attention to little details in daily life.  Once Chinese students come to America their math abilities are similar to all Americans within a generation or two.

     I wish I remembered the name of the article, but it was years ago that I came across it.  It makes sense though, math is very detailed oriented skill and our kids are used to a fast paced life style filled with TV and video games. 

     

    As far as Chinese political system and Tibet, yes it's awful.  One great thing about the global economy is that its harder and harder for China to isolate itself and hopefully this means brighter days for many Chinese and Tibetan people.

     

     

  • celtic77dragon
    January 27 at 1:18 PM

    I LOVE that you did this post!

    The Asian culture does NOT put a lot of stock in the whole notion of "naturally gifted". Instead, they believe that you work your ass off until it is second nature to you. I appreciate this mentality because it requires focus, dedication, hard work...  You commit to it and you just keep at it. There are few things that I went at in life where I didn't need to have this attitude. This is where the "ancients" have the modern world, if you ask me. You have to be able to understand the importance of listening to the ones who have done it before you AND be dedicated to keeping at it until it is mastered. I know it doesn't entirely jive up with some people, but I will live and die by that motto.

    Finland AND Singapore have this in common - hiring the best of the best. Finland not only requires teachers to have a masters degree, they ONLY hire from the top percentage of the graduating classes. The people who teach in Singapore schools are THE BEST at teaching Math and have advanced degrees specializing in math and science. What people do not know is that in Singapore, those kids do not get just math class. They are in math clubs, have math related websites, and work at home. They have a lot of drills and practice, but it is done OUTSIDE of the classroom.  

    Oh yeah, Long term success matters more than momentary gain. I have a quote that reminds me of this... "Education should be exercise; it has become massage." Martin H Fischer. You can not just accomodate a childs every comfort. You don't have to be an ass to the child and you don't have to go to any extremes. However, sometimes, people DO need to just suck it up and deal. You will not like everything that you have to do in life. A good parent/teacher pays close attention to know when to push a little harder and when to lay off. It is like driving a high powered car; if you give it too much gas or over steer, you WILL lose control of it. You have to pay attention to how each car drives and respond to it accordingly.

    Testing in the USA is ironic to me. It is like having a planned parenthood next to a bar. 

      


    Quoting KickButtMama:

     One thing I'm often asked about, when it comes to teaching math & science, is why the Chinese do so much better at math than the US. There are a few things that they do differently than we do here but for the most part it is cultural. They truly believe it is no ok to say 'I'm just not good at math'. Perhaps this is why in 2011 40% of Chinese college graduates were in degrees of Math, Sciences & Engineering, compared to the 5-9% in the US.

    Comparisons:

    *Math is taught only by specialists in China- even in elementary school. Whereas in the US elementary teachers teach everything. IN fact a poll a few years ago determined that many teachers felt uncomfortable teaching math. Especially since most teachers with a bachelors degree can have as little as 6-12 hours of mathematics education themselves.

    *Environment -in China school rooms are clean and empty. Students stay in one room and teachers travel from room to room. This means no one teacher can decorate the room with pretty posters or eye catching things. In fact, until the last couple of years there was no area in a Chinese classroom that even promoted group discussion. THe focus is on what is being taught.

    *Emotion -One major difference is teachers (and even HS mom's can be guilty) in the US pus for comfort and happiness in the Present. Whereas Chinese teachers feel that focusing on academics - developing a solid understanding of math and science, will allow for easy entry to college, and therefore translate into a comfortable job - thus happiness and comfort in the Future.

    *Testing - Testing in China is done twice, and they are entrance exams - to get into Middleschool and to get into High School. You qualify, at the High School level to either go to a general education high school or to a trade school. They feel that focusing on entrance exams only will also help a student better prepare for entrance exams for college. Where as testing in the US can determine everything from a teachers pay, to the amount of funding given to schools. I think everyone (at least in all the research I've done) agrees standardized testing doesn't really give an accurate representation of the Knowledge a child has, or their true progress.

    My Application:

    So, how do I as a child-led learner, reconcile my push for greater math & science understanding? Well, one thing is in the practical application of math & science. Kids are like little curious sponges. My kids want remote controlled helicopters or cars? Then they have to build them. They want a 3DS? Then I bought them a broken on and they had to learn to fix it. They wanted to build a time traveling machine in the back yard? Well they watched Dr. Who as well as a documentary on how the science of Dr. Who is being worked on by scientists today.

    I've taught algebra (and even trig & calculus) to 10 y/o's by just putting the terminology into vocabulary they can understand. How many times in high school did one say or hear "When will I ever use this, really?" I know I did it a lot. Even though we don't use worksheets, and very few textbooks. There are may instances where we more resemble Chinese style of methodology in mathematics and sciences than we do US.

    For more on Chinese mathematics check out the following:

    http://wenr.wes.org/2012/07/wenr-junejuly-2012-senior-secondary-mathematics-education-in-china/

    http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2013/10/math-instruction-china-effective/


  • KickButtMama
    January 27 at 1:57 PM

    Don't worry I didn't take anything as rude, I just thought I ended to clarify my op so no one thought I was in support of a communist regime or anything like that..lol.

    Quoting katyq:

    Sorry, I wasn't trying to come off rude or anything. I was just expressing my suprise.

    Quoting KickButtMama:

    I in no way support China's political regime. My discussion was only about their approach to math and sciences. I also should have been more clear, that the 40% of Chinese who gain degrees in math, sciences and engineering got those degrees at US Colleges. So they must have some ability to write papers and such.

    and my post was in response to direct questions I've been asked repeatedly. As a homeschooler it's impossible for me to completely judge an educational system which doesn't include homeschooling....obviously my living room doesn't resemble a Chinese classroom. 

    Quoting katyq:

    I lived in China briefly and my best friend ran a western college prep school there. Her students had no idea that plants make food from sunlight. They also didn't know what Is happening in Tibet, they "thought" that Tibetans are Chinese and loving it. I am not a fan of their education system. They go to school from sun up to sun down but don't gain enough knowledge to write papers that can be published in international journals (see: Chinese ideas on plagiarism). And yes, they don't test but twice which leads too many students into becoming super lazy with school, which then leads them to become extraordinarily stressed when testing FINALLY rolls around. Have you read up on their teen suicide rate? Also, you can freely buy your way through college there. If you fail, you simply pay a set sum to the school and you are then given a passing grade.  I could go on but I made my view clear I think. :p One system that I truly do admire is that of Singapore and it is their style and methods that I will use with my son. 




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