Jun 16

“Two Million Minutes” – High school in US/China/India

Written by Buxi on Monday, June 16th, 2008 at 5:02 pm
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This seems like a thought-provoking movie.

This LA Times articles provides the basic details:

But one faculty member, Compton recalled, told him that “we have nothing to learn from Third World education.” Another, renowned education theorist Howard Gardner, took him to task for comparing the U.S. with China.

“His point was: How can you have a great educational system when you don’t have freedom of speech?” Compton said. Compton saw the remark as missing the point: America may not have anything to learn from China’s one-party political system, but it might want to know why Chinese students do better in math and science.

The full story on this situation isn’t quite so simple; there are many in China deeply unsatisfied with the Chinese education system.  But the topic is certainly worthy of debate (see earlier thread on 50 years of gaokao).

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8 Responses to ““Two Million Minutes” – High school in US/China/India”

  1. FOARP Says:

    Things that the west can learn from the Chinese education system? I’m not sure, but I think that some western parents could learn much from the tradtion of encouraging children to strive for excellence through education. It may be that some Chinese parents take this too far, but I definitely think that many parents here in the U.K. do not impart much ambition to succeed into their children.

  2. BMY Says:

    I agree with you of “It may be that some Chinese parents take this too far” . there are too much pressure and workloads been put on some little kids from their parents. I don’t want my children go through that. I am not talking about the whole system as I am not able to.

    we have talked a lot on the previous Gaokao post.

  3. Buxi Says:

    I definitely think that *drive*, that emphasis on academic excellence which is so strongly embedded in our culture is one positive aspect.

    The best of both worlds still seems to be raising a child with that Confucian-inspired (I don’t want to call it “Chinese”) ambition in the West, where the schools are excellent but not nearly as competitive.

  4. Opersai Says:


    I agree with you it’s a culture thing generally in Asian culture – not just the “desire” or “hunger” as the article says that drives students work harder. There’s generally a more emphasis on education in the culture. Kids are taught since very young that they MUST go to university. It never occurred to me that I would not go, it was only a matter of which one to go to.

  5. Nimrod Says:

    I’m writing for a colleague who said he likes the American system better. If you want to get ahead you can, but you have to make that choice. The common denominator is definitely low.

  6. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I think it’s partly cultural, though not exclusively a Chinese trait, since Korean and Japanese families seem to place a similar premium on higher education. But I also think it might be a generational thing. My parents certainly harped on me going to university more than i ever seem to with my kids.
    I also wonder if it might relate to how society values the work people do. In the US/Canada, it seems that physical work is remunerated at a much higher rate than in HK at least, such that the pay disparity with “intellectual” work might be considerably smaller.
    The common denominator might be lower, but I think for desirable programs or schools, the competition in the US/Canada is still fierce. I also think that culturally, there is less emphasis on academic excellence alone, and more value placed on a well-rounded education and individual. Might also explain why the Chinese soccer team doesn’t do so hot…they’re playing teams made up of players who’ve been playing since they were 5, and played all through adolescence while the Chinese guys were busy studying.

  7. S. Says:

    The Chinese will do better because Wikipedia is blocked so that students can’t copy and paste but have to think up original stuff.


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