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Are Chinese Children Dumb or Smart?

Popularity 11Viewed 9701 times 2013-4-12 08:48 |Personal category:Education|System category:Life| mini, she, advantages, education, newspaper

A few nights ago, I spent the evening with 3 foreign teachers and 4 Chinese teachers. One of the Chinese teachers had read my blog that was printed in the newspaper edition of China Daily about 'Is Western Education Better Than Eastern Education?' However, she had no idea that I was the author of it. I didn't reveal myself as the author until much later in our discussion. Then, I got out my iPad mini and showed her.

They gave me many of their views on problems and advantages of education here in China. I found all of their views quite interesting. In fact, I would say that they were more than interesting. I learn a lot by just listening.

The lady that had read my blog argued about the statement that 'Chinese students are smart'. She said that she didn't think that they were as smart as children in the West. At this time, I didn't want to reveal myself, so, I simply listened to her. She said that Chinese teachers here must almost beat information into their students. She said that it felt as if the students were resistant to learning and unable to retain, comprehend, remember and assimilate their lessons. She said, "They aren't smart. They are as dumb as a rock." (Note: I am a calm, kind, peaceful person. But, when I hear things like that, I have to subdue what I'm really feeling inside of me. Anger arises in me when such statements are made about anyone; especially students/children.)

Of course, she has no experience with Western education other than what she reads about. She's never been to the West.

I suggested to her that perhaps she doesn't have resistant students. Perhaps she has a teaching method that doesn't work with students today. She told me that the teaching methods in China have proven to be effective for thousands of years. I said, "Yes. Perhaps they have. But, have you ever thought that, maybe they aren't working today."

There's an old idea that I've longed held to in my mind. "If the ax your swinging isn't cutting down the tree, you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you would simply stop, take the time and sharpen your ax."

Teaching methods and styles are the tools that teachers use and depend upon. If they aren't sharpened, they won't cut the tree down. A dull ax will completely wear you out and never accomplish your goals.

I'm not condemning Chinese teachers or even their methods. I think that as human beings (not as Chinese, Americans, British, Indian, etc.) we must take responsibility for the results we are getting life. If we aren't getting the results we want, then, we need to discover new ways to accomplish what we want.

I've also found that complaining about anything will do more harm than good. We have to acknowledge what isn't working and then focus our attention on what will work. The shortest success or self help method in the world is simple:

1. Take action to do something.
2. Notice the results that you're getting.
3. If you aren't getting the results you want, revise your methods.
4. Go back to Number 1 (take more action).

How does a child learn to walk? By standing up their first time and go off running down the street? No. That would be absurd. No. They will get up, fall down. Get up again, fall down again. Rise again; fall again. If after the third or fourth try, will the parents give up and say, "This child has fallen down 3 times down. I guess that he/she just isn't going to learn to walk. They can't even stand up"? No. That's absurd. No parent would do that.

What must happen in changing education in any country?

First, someone must acknowledge that, "We have a problem." Then, second, they must say, "Let's find a solution to this problem." Talking about the problem for months will never solve the problem. Taking action, noticing your results and revising your methods will eventually cause you to discover the solution.

So, I say again. Chinese children are smart. I have found that not only do they want to learn, but, they appreciate their teachers far more than students in the West. They've told me directly, "Thank you teacher for coming so far from your home to teach us." They've reached my heart enough that I want to do all that I can to positively affect their lives.

But we as professional teachers must take responsibility for the results that we are getting. The problem is not with the children. It is with us. The good news is, we are also the solution when we get the right mindset and take action to fix the problem.

Michael and two of his students at the First Affiliated Middle School of Zhengzhou University.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Friends who just made a statement (4 Person)

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Comment Comment (12 comments)

Reply Report hyc 2013-4-12 16:01
god with you dear teacher,......
Reply Report Joy.guo 2013-4-12 21:52
Obviously,  it's the teacher who is probem, those children are smart.
what you said about "The shortest success or self help method in the world"
Can we  say it's a PDCA circle?
1.plan to do something it.
3.check if there are any problems.
4.action,take actions to solve problems.

By the way,  I 'm so appreciate that you always show us your positive attitude.
I try my best to stop complaining , just pay more attention to what I will do.
Reply Report TimothyNg 2013-4-12 23:55
But they have sent rocket into space. How many countries have sent rocket into space?
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-4-13 04:59
Joy.guo: Obviously,  it's the teacher who is probem, those children are smart.
what you said about "The shortest success or self help method in the world ...

That is an excellent way to say it. Yes. PDCA Circle. Thank you. A positive attitude will serve us all much better in life than a negative attitude.

Reply Report ExileMick 2013-4-13 10:17
There's an old saying, "There are no bad students only bad teachers." Teachers must inspire and encourage their students to want to learn. No one in my class liked Shakespeare until an excellent teacher explained how the wily Portia led the dastardly Shylock into a trap of his own making. (The Merchant of Venice)After that, we couldn't get enough of the Bard. If a teacher cannot encourage and inspire their students, might I suggest they consider driving a taxi instead?
I might add that I hope the article's writer teaches science or maths or, indeed, any subject but English. There are many grammatical errors, not the least of which is "If the ax your swinging.." No! 'If the axe you're (you are)swinging.'
Reply Report elena-sunglory 2013-4-13 10:47
If any teacher thinks his/her students are as dumb as rock, he/she is not suitable for this work.
Bec. he/she has rejustice on the students, then they will boycott him/her.
Reply Report gooddog 2013-4-14 01:43
Action gets reactions, respect to be respected! Chinese olde teaching
Reply Report MichaelM 2013-4-14 17:05
ExileMick: There's an old saying, "There are no bad students only bad teachers." Teachers must inspire and encourage their students to want to learn. N ...
Thank you Mick. Yes. Great perspective. I should proof better. Thank you for your kind correction. :)
Reply Report lnjiajia 2013-4-18 15:49
No more aggree with you.I think chinese teachers should learn a new lesson- Patience.
Reply Report zhangcry 2013-4-19 12:13
Good to know your acticle.You know, China and the USA is totally diffirent on the education.Traditionall we take our teaching methods which all think are right and praticle for granted.However,some teachers indeed have there problems on educating kids.Some are rude and absurd,crazy,indiffirent,,praticle ,some are kind,indiffirent,warm-hearted,some have no aware of taking on the responsbility to inspire students,and so on.But whatever they do,the purpose is to make students' score increasing which only make teachers and parents happy.They don't pay great value on the completion of whole person .BUT NOWADAYS,problem of Chinese education have been seen and is improving.
Reply Report 2013-4-19 13:01
Really moved by your spirit and kindness, wish you great success in teaching and your life.

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Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.


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