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The Gaokao factory

Popularity 9Viewed 12282 times 2016-6-7 09:15 |Personal category:Education|System category:Life| Gaokao, rote, learning, factory, education

A Gaokao mill! The examination mill! Well that about sums up the attitude towards quality broad and balanced education in China; a factory for passing an outdated test that was resurrected after the cultural revolution.
There are schools in China who are interested in more effective assessment of students. Reforms to change and replace this examination are hampered by fear of change and corruption in the system. Once again the lack of trust in the universities abilities to select students fairly is wrongly levelled at them. How many skilled and intelligent students are not accepted because they fail this one test?
I met a father who was upset because he felt he had let his son down. He had encouraged him to take a full and active part of his school, running clubs and taking responsibility for many activities. He had less time to study study study and achieved lower scores in tests than expected as a result. No credit was given for all his social work that had made him a better person.
The stress levels created by this testing system is appalling.
I have met some "successful" teachers who are praised for getting students to pass their subject within this test. Yet they know little about their subject and rely entirely on rote memory answers to questions in text books and exercises. A while ago there was an article in CD about a foreign language teacher in America who could not speak this language. This is much more possible in China, and indeed I have met one teacher of English who cannot understand clearly spoken English and cannot speak it. His students are able to pass the Gaokao because he relies on the grammar and vocabulary introduced in text books and exercises, and CDs of English tests for listening skills.
Because of teaching to this test, the real teaching of English is denied. The wonderful achievements in kindergarten and primary schools are forgotten later on. The standard of useful English drops and interest in learning the language is lost.
Children are not machines. Schools are not factories. Selection and quality control cannot be achieved through one examination.
1. Turn teaching into a disciplined profession
2. Educate parents in how children learn and what is best for them
3. Prove that Universities and schools can be trusted to accurately and fairly assess students
4. Introduce a more effective system of selection for university 

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


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Reply Report voice_cd 2016-6-8 09:23
Thank you very much!!! we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report samlam 2016-6-8 12:39
You have the experience of teaching in China, so you know much about the situation of education here. You see the problems of education in China. Many students want to quit from classroom and they even hate being forced to remember lots of things they don't like, which makes them think it a boring thing. However, they got to experience the tough time from primary school to high school. During this period they got to tolerate lots of things difficult to speak. It has already become a Gao Kao Mill.
Reply Report Palladin 2016-6-9 12:14
Goakao wastes one year and these exams only measure one standard of a student's true ability. Informal IQ exam grade 6-would be initial measure of ability and later more exams pushing the upper limits....
Reply Report seneca 2016-6-9 12:26
The concept of "higher education" is defined by members of a generation who in general were deprived of it themselves during the hiatus called the "Cultural Revolution".
Their antiquated notions are therefore transferred to the younger generations. It is believed the younger ones are lucky in that they are given the opportunity to attend schools and colleges.

Maybe the concept of higher education should be defined by someone else. Someone with no vested interests in it at all. The economy should tell the government what kind of education their job profiles need. Employers need people with an overall education plus some specific knowledge that they gain through training. What the public schools and universities produce is just memory knowledge borrowed from books that may or may not be out of touch with reality.
Reply Report snowipine 2016-6-9 14:50
samlam: You have the experience of teaching in China, so you know much about the situation of education here. You see the problems of education in China. Many ...
Does China still need the system of Gaokao in the future?
Reply Report snowipine 2016-6-9 14:53
What's your advices for the parents whose kids are about to sitting for the yearly national college entrance examination in the future?

If my kid is about to attend the exam next year, what should I do in your opinion? Thanks.
Reply Report TedM 2016-6-9 16:54
snowipine: Does China still need the system of Gaokao in the future?
I think every country with an education system offering university places needs some sort of selection process.  However any important assessment like this needs to be fair, relevant, broad and balanced. It should take into account many aspects of a students talents and qualities. The pass criteria should not just rely on a test result based on rote learning, and a test taken all in the same day.
I suppose that there are so many students applying to universities that the Chinese system has to be harsh and unbending, quick and easy to administer. Those wealthy enough are able to choose education abroad, and do so in increasing numbers.
Reply Report TedM 2016-6-9 17:07
snowipine: What's your advices for the parents whose kids are about to sitting for the yearly national college entrance examination in the future?

If my kid is  ...
It is unfortunate, but there is little choice but to play the system as it is. There is no alternative if your child is to stay in this country to study. But maintain a healthy balance between study time and quality family and social time. Leisure time is NOT a waste of time. It enables a person to reflect on what has been learned, internalise it, discuss it casually. It refreshes the capacity to learn and turns a student into a happy learner; keen to learn as a pleasurable activity. Encourage your child to do his/her best, but without the stress and pressure which often results in worse performance in tests. Failing the Gaokao is not failing as an intelligent and useful person. These days a person can succeed and aim for that dream without it... even in China.
Reply Report snowipine 2016-6-9 21:20
TedM: It is unfortunate, but there is little choice but to play the system as it is. There is no alternative if your child is to stay in this country to stu ...
Thanks.
Reply Report SEARU 2016-6-10 22:10
In the end, for most of Chinese students English-learning is cup of bitter wine and they feel that the foreign language is harder than their mother language!
Reply Report TedM 2016-6-10 22:23
SEARU: In the end, for most of Chinese students English-learning is cup of bitter wine and they feel that the foreign language is harder than their mother la ...
That is the result of a system of teaching and a restricted English curriculum that  destroys the enthusiasm to learn the language. Young children in China enjoy learning the language. It is when Junior and Senior classes start that this is destroyed. I met a chinese english teacher recently who could not understand spoken English and could not speak the language. He teaches English from the text books and from exercises and CDs. How sad!
Reply Report AndrewCraven 2016-6-12 22:13
I kept the interest until I attended High School, my English teacher, who made me lose the interest, in that school, was totally unqualified. She refused to answer whatever questions that I asked about grammer and usage of prepsitions. Then I had lost the interest since. I won't forgive what she had done to me.
Reply Report TedM 2016-6-14 20:50
AndrewCraven: I kept the interest until I attended High School, my English teacher, who made me lose the interest, in that school, was totally unqualified. She refu ...
Regretfully this is true for many senior students. Dont put all the blame on teachers though. Many want to teach useful english but are restricted by Gaokao demands and the demand for high test results...... otherwise they will be accused of being "bad teachers"!  A sad situation.

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TedM

Education management advisor and English teacher

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