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K12 Education - Who Has Smarter Children, the USA or China?


2010 The United States used to lead the world in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees. Now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations.

Cross-national policy borrowing will be ineffective without  attending to the historical and cultural contexts in which those policies operate.




oh... and then there is this little study

Elegant twin / identical twin study shows 95% of the modest correlation between intelligence and longevity is genes

Australian teachers produce the same results as Chinese teachers - with motivated students The study suggests that culture appears to have been more important than national policies. Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea regularly top international test results.the idea that East Asian success is largely due to their methods of teacher training and mentoring ignores alternative explanations. Children of East Asian ancestry growing up in Australia do not bring East Asian teachers with them, but they do bring their community and family focus on education - and their tiger mothers. East Asian parents, both in their homeland and elsewhere, place a very high value on educational achievement, and many of them send their children to after-school supplementary private tutoring, also known as shadow education or cram schooling.

2013 Teens from Asian nations dominated a global exam given to 15-year-olds, while US students showed little improvement and failed to reach the top 20 in math, science or reading, according to test results. US scores on the Pisa haven't changed much since testing started in 2000, even as students in countries such as Ireland and Poland have shown improvement and have surpassed US students. American students historically have not had high marks on international tests. Factors often cited include high rates of child poverty and population diversity. In contrast to the PISA results, American fourth- and eighth-graders over time have made some progress in reading and math on an assessment referred to as the Nation's Report Card, even though recent results found the vast majority of the students still are not demonstrating solid academic performance in either subject. The top average scores in each subject came from Shanghai, China's largest city with more than 20 million people


What went wrong and how we can fix it.


Get the federal government out of the education business because there is a global education race and the U.S. is experiencing the first brain drain in its history. Tsinghua and Peking Universities combined recently surpassed UC-Berkeley as the leading source of students earning U.S. PhDs.

11/14 The Myth of Chinese Super Schools Diane Ravitch
In his public remarks, however, Duncan could not admit that carrots and sticks don’t produce better education or even higher test scores. Instead, he blamed teachers and parents for failing to have high expectations.Tests, without doubt, influence and control curriculum and instruction. The Common Core standards are a gamble, because no one knows if they will raise test scores or even if they will improve education. But what they will certainly do is require many tens of billions in new spending on technology, because the new federal tests will be delivered online, meaning that every school district must have new computers, new bandwidth, and training for staff to use the new technology. No surprise: the testing industry (dominated by the British corporation Pearson) and the technology industry love the new standards.his love affair with testing had its origins in 1983, when a national commission on education released a report called “A Nation at Risk.”

China breaking bizarre records




"I borrow William Jennings Bryan's phrase: 'You shall not crucify America on a cross of gold' to suggest that we should not crucify America's children on a cross of words. The combined use of hands and imagination makes an important contribution to what it means 'to know' something."  ~ Jerome Kagan, Ph.D.


Jerome Kagan, Ph.D. Keynote: Why the Arts Matter
Six Good Reasons for Advocating the Importance of Arts in School, part of Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts, and the Brain

You can't argue with the facts. The U.S. is number one in self-esteem. That's what the Brookings Institution discovered.  Americans believe they're great, but unfortunately, statistically they are not.  In the results of the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests, the U.S. was number twenty three or four in most subjects (thirty first in math).
But one thing that matters is how kind this nation is. WE ARE NUMBER 1 when it comes to charity. We promote giving and charity that extends to the world.

Why China doesn’t have its own
Steve Jobs?


As millions of Chinese netizens mourned over Steve Jobs’ death, they also raised a question – why couldn’t China produce its own “Steve Jobs”? Former vice-president of Google global and president of Google China Kai-fu Lee explained on his weibo that it was because Chinese education puts too much emphasis on reciting and memorizing stuff instead of fostering critical thinking. He pointed out that it wasn’t that Chinese people are not smart enough, nor was the lack of people with the potential to become a “Steve Jobs” since there are pioneers of this sort, such as co-founder of Yahoo! Inc. Jerry Yang and co-founder of Youtube Steve Chan.
Kai-fu Lee has his points. In fact, Chinese people are not stupid, then why couldn’t we see any innovation big shots like Steve Jobs here in China? A survey carried out by a famous website (original article didn’t provide the source) has founded that 63.3% people believe there won’t be figure like Steve Jobs under the present China condition, 28.9% people think there is not even a chance for it, only 7.8% people think chances might exist in 20 years or so. Although the survey didn’t mean much, still it is worth pondering upon.
Generally speaking, there are too many restrictions and interventions for the growth of great innovators like Jobs. For one, herd behavior is extremely significant among Chinese, those who go against mainstream opinions will be edged out; for another, there is not enough protection over intellectual property rights, some innovators exerts time and money in developing their “genius” products only to be plagiarized in a few days; and thirdly, the pressure to survive is too huge that very few people will do something completely out of personal interest.
But Jobs who grew up in the US didn’t have to face any of the above influences. Some people comment on Jobs like this: he has the astonishing capability to find out what should exist but hasn’t exist yet, he can combine the appropriate technology with unimaginative aesthetic elements to produce enormous charm. That sets the ground stone for Apple to become one of the top enterprises in the world.
About a decade ago, Apple was in so much trouble that when Jobs came back in 1997 the company has already experienced corporate deficit of $18.6 billion two years in a roll. It was practically at the brink of bankruptcy. Then Jobs stepped in and started a series of revolutions revolving the development of new products. Up until June this year, Apple’s cash flow and marketable securities have reached $76.1 billion while the gross operating cash flow of America Treasury was $73.77 billion as of July this year. That said, Apple is almost as rich as the country.
People notice that every new product launch by Steve Jobs would generate global attention and anticipation because every new product he introduced will in one way or another change the structure of an industry or the mode of a business. Perhaps this is the biggest gap between Chinese IT/Internet companies and their American counterparts. Chinese enterprises base their judgments and decisions entirely on the market and consumers, they only manage to follow market trends at best, hardly able to make any radical innovations. They don’t want to fall behind nor go too ahead, so they often let others to take the bullet as a path finder, and follow closely once the situation looks good. Many Chinese enterprises flourish in this way. In the end of the day, the problem boils down to our faithlessness in deciding and utilizing our own ability. Therefore it is impossible for Chinese enterprises to create a market trend and take the lead.
Moreover, one of the most obvious features of Apple is that it became the world’s most valuable corporation without the help of governments. Whereas there is no such soil in China to grow that kind of company. In fact, the monopoly created by state-owned enterprises is down right political monopoly, which limits competition, hampers technological upgrade, reduces the efficiency of resource allocation and intervenes with the competitive market order etc.
Another huge obstacle comes from our policy. Many private-owned enterprises similar to Apple don’t have the chance to grow at all, they seldom make it to the Fortune 500 list. Among all countries that adopt market economy, China is one of the few that allocate public resources and political resources according to systems of ownership: state-owned enterprises, foreign-invested enterprises and private-owned enterprises enjoy totally different political treatment.
Perhaps this is the ultimate reasons why China fails to produce people like Steve Jobs or enterprises like Apple. Chinese scientist Qian Xueshen raised the famous question when he was dying: “Why on earth can’t China foster outstanding people?” Nowadays when Jobs is also part of the history, many netizens start calling out “where is Chinese Steve Jobs?”.
Of course it is not strange that China couldn’t produce “Steve Jobs”, because Jobs has paranoia who brings Apple to what it is today. When there is someone who has the same paranoia in China, then the Chinese Apple will born. It may seems unbelievable, but that is the core of the problem. To foster Chinese “Jobs”, we have to provide flexible soil and environment to those who need to take the path like Jobs even when they are paranoid. Otherwise, it is only empty hope for China to produce world’s top corporations like Apple. (The commentary by Qiulin 邱林, translated from


Are Asians too Smart for their own Good?
In the 1920s, as high-achieving Jews began to compete with WASP prep schoolers, Ivy League schools started asking about family background and sought vague qualities like “character,” “vigor,” “manliness” and “leadership” to cap Jewish enrollment. These unofficial Jewish quotas weren’t lifted until the early 1960s, as the sociologist Jerome Karabel found in his 2005 history of admissions practices at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. In the 1920s, people asked: will Harvard still be Harvard with so many Jews? Today we ask: will Harvard still be Harvard with so many Asians? Yale’s student population is 58 percent white and 18 percent Asian. Would it be such a calamity if those numbers were reversed?


China Education: A dog eat dog race to amass riches at the expense of anyone or everyone else. Children are not taught about charity they are taught to accept their fate which enslaves them, but that won't last.


How do people cheat? from more than a dozen sources in China and South Korea, including some who work in test prep centers:

— Confederates in the United States obtain recently administered SAT exams, including those that are officially “undisclosed,” either by copying illegally obtained test forms or compiling content from information about individual items shared on chat boards such as

— Overseas “test prep” companies maintain complete databases of questions and correct answers from previously administered tests. They use these to train their regular clients (also illegal if they use questions that have not been disclosed).

— Prior to each exam, some test-takers contract with these firms to provide the answers to that day’s SAT. Such “services” are heavily advertised on Chinese language websites such as Taobao, QQ and Wechat.

— On SAT day, hired guns sit for the test at Asian sites in time zones several hours ahead of China (e.g. Auckland, New Zealand is five hours ahead of Beijing), memorize the first few items, then take a “bathroom break,” from which they call or text that information to their superiors. — Based on this advance warning, the “test prep” company consults its database and identifies the test being administered in China later that day. — A list of correct answers is then transmitted to paying clients by simple technologies, such as emailing the file to their cell phones or loading it on programmable calculators that students are allowed to use in the test center. Schaeffer said that “given the large amounts of money some students’ families allegedly pay for this advance knowledge (as much as ‘tens of thousands of dollars,’ according to several sources), this cheating operation is quite unsophisticated and relatively low-cost.” Here, he said, are three steps that could easily disrupt this cheating operation if the College Board and ETS were to adopt them: — Stop reusing previously administered tests in Asia — in the age of micro-cameras and the Internet, “previously undisclosed” test content does not exist. — Make a more serious effort to confiscate cellphones and similar devices when students enter the testing center. — Require test-takers to demonstrate that they have cleared the memory on all programmable calculators. Ending the practice of using previously administered tests in Asia would require the creation of many more exams, which would cost a lot. The ETS did not respond to questions about whether it has considered stopping using previously administered tests.


chineseResearch shows Children from Shanghai, China are the Smartest in the World, even though Communist China censors all media 24/7 - 360. But what does smart really mean?

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) Figure 2. Percentage of fourth- and eighth-grade students who reached the TIMSS advanced international benchmark in mathematics, by country: 2007

CHINESE parents and education experts have shrugged off a report by an international organization saying Shanghai students are the smartest in the world. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said Shanghai students' test results had "stunned" Western educators. "As it stands right now, America is in danger of falling behind," United States President Barack Obama was quoted as saying by the New York Times as he commented on the rise of China's education in a speech in North Carolina.
But Chinese parents and educators say the performance of Shanghai students is not proof of a successful education system in China where students are burdened with an excessive workload and there exists a large gap in education resources between different regions. "Admittedly, Chinese students are comparatively knowledgeable and have very strong learning skills. But they were results of pressure from school, family and society," said Xiong Bingqi, a Jiao Tong University professor who specializes in education in China.
Chinese students work extra long hours on school days and continue to have classes at weekends and during holidays. It is hard for them not to perform well on tests, he said. "We must not let the good test results hide the problems of education in China," Xiong added.
"Chinese children are victims of a test-oriented education system. We have no reason to celebrate the result of another test," said Shanghai mother Guan Jiaojiao. Guan said Chinese children lacked the ability to solve real questions and were not independent enough because they spend too much time learning. But she sees to it that her 16-year-old son attends a math lesson every Saturday. "I don't like it, but my son's future is at stake," she said.
Cai Fang, head of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics, said China's education still lagged far behind that of developed countries. China will see a significant increase in its labor productivity with the improvement of education, Cai said. But Xiong worries whether China's educational system can produce enough talented citizens who can support the country in its bid for social and economic transformation.

The greatest disadvantage of China's education is in the cultivation of personality, integrity and innovation, Xiong said.

According to a survey by the International Assessment of Educational Progress in 2009, China was at the bottom in all 21 polled countries in its students' imagination and ranked 17th in children's creativity.
It is imperative for educators to find a way to free Chinese children from heavy burdens and encourage the development of personality so that they can learn to innovate, to think independently and to apply their knowledge in practice, Xiong said.

PISA 2009 Results
PISA 2009 Results presents the findings from the most recent PISA survey, which focused on reading and also assessed mathematics and science performance.

Right Click Save As executive summary

Education at a Glance 2010 OECD Indicators


THE tiger mom and the EAGLE DAD



2012 New Year’s Eve morning, a 4-year-old boy from Nanjing city who had accompanied his parents to America on vacation welcomed the 2012 Lunar New Year in his own unique fashion by running naked in a snow storm. In the video, the little boy was only wearing yellow underwear and sports shoes, while the outdoor temperature that morning reached as low as -13 degrees Celsius. After the video was uploaded onto the internet, it attracted many netizens’ attention and debate.


The longer video clip on Youku:

In the above video, the child can be heard whimpering and asking for his father to hold him while the father encourages him to keep running forward. The child He Yide also asks for his mother, whose voice can later be heard encouraging him as he does some push-ups on the snowy ground.




Yanhong Wheeler the "anti-Tiger Mom" in the Chinese press for her opposition to the strict parenting style espoused by Amy Chua.


Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior By AMY CHUA
Can a regimen of no playdates, no TV, no computer games and hours of music practice create happy kids? And what happens when they fight back?
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do: [snip]

Chinese Wolf Dad's technique of beating his 3 kids into University.

David Brooks: Amy Chua Is a Wimp
Sometime early last week, a large slice of educated America decided that Amy Chua is a menace to society. Chua, as you probably know, is the Yale professor who has written a bracing critique of what she considers the weak, cuddling American parenting style.
Chua didn't let her own girls go out on play dates or sleepovers. She didn't let them watch TV or play video games or take part in garbage activities like crafts. Once, one of her daughters came in second to a Korean kid in a math competition, so Chua made the girl do 2,000 math problems a night until she regained her supremacy. Once, her daughters gave her birthday cards of insufficient quality. Chua rejected them and demanded new cards. Once, she threatened to burn all of one of her daughter's stuffed animals unless she played a piece of music perfectly. As a result, Chua's daughters get straight As and have won a series of musical competitions.
In her book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," Chua delivers a broadside against American parenting even as she mocks herself for her own extreme "Chinese" style. She says American parents lack authority and produce entitled children who aren't forced to live up to their abilities.
The furious denunciations began flooding my in-box a week ago. Chua plays into America's fear of national decline. Here's a Chinese parent working really hard (and, by the way, there are a billion more of her) and her kids are going to crush ours. Furthermore (and this Chua doesn't appreciate), she is not really rebelling against American-style parenting; she is the logical extension of the prevailing elite practices. She does everything over-pressuring upper-middle-class parents are doing. She's just hard core.
Her critics echoed the familiar themes. Her kids can't possibly be happy or truly creative. They'll grow up skilled and compliant but without the audacity to be great. She's destroying their love for music. There's a reason Asian-American women between the ages of 15 and 24 have such high suicide rates.
I have the opposite problem with Chua. I believe she's coddling her children. She's protecting them from the most intellectually demanding activities because she doesn't understand what's cognitively difficult and what isn't.
Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls.

Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group--these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale.

Yet mastering these arduous skills is at the very essence of achievement.

Most people work in groups. We do this because groups are much more efficient at solving problems than individuals (swimmers are often motivated to have their best times as part of relay teams, not in individual events). Moreover, the performance of a group does not correlate well with the average I.Q. of the group or even with the I.Q.'s of the smartest members.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon have found that groups have a high collective intelligence when members of a group are good at reading each others' emotions--when they take turns speaking, when the inputs from each member are managed fluidly, when they detect each others' inclinations and strengths.

Participating in a well-functioning group is really hard. It requires the ability to trust people outside your kinship circle, read intonations and moods, understand how the psychological pieces each person brings to the room can and cannot fit together. This skill set is not taught formally, but it is imparted through arduous experiences.

These are exactly the kinds of difficult experiences Chua shelters her children from by making them rush home to hit the homework table.

Chua would do better to see the classroom as a cognitive break from the truly arduous tests of childhood. Where do they learn how to manage people? Where do they learn to construct and manipulate metaphors? Where do they learn to perceive details of a scene the way a hunter reads a landscape? Where do they learn how to detect their own shortcomings? Where do they learn how to put themselves in others' minds and anticipate others' reactions? These and a million other skills are imparted by the informal maturity process and are not developed if formal learning monopolizes a child's time.

So I'm not against the way Chua pushes her daughters. And I loved her book as a courageous and thought-provoking read. It's also more supple than her critics let on. I just wish she wasn't so soft and indulgent. I wish she recognized that in some important ways the school cafeteria is more intellectually demanding than the library. And I hope her daughters grow up to write their own books, and maybe learn the skills to better anticipate how theirs will be received.

"Educational Excellence" in the New Yorker. Thoughtful post and synthesis with links.


Laurie Fendrich: Reproducing anxiety? Bad Mommy 1/16/11
My plan for blogging had been to follow up immediately my previous post on the humanities by turning to Martha Nussbaum's book, Not for Profit. Instead I'm going to detour to Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a just-released memoir about her torture-approach to raising two daughters. She claims her method derives from a Chinese heritage, and that it's superior to American-style education. Chua's Draconian childrearing methods include--in the cause of her kids' academic achievement--name-calling, screaming and yelling, threatening the destruction of favorite toys, refusing to let her daughter go to the bathroom until playing a piece on the piano perfectly, banning all play dates and sleepovers, and forbidding participation in school plays. She wants her children to become "successful" adults, presumably like herself. (Chua, a Harvard College and Harvard Law School graduate, is now a professor of law at Yale).
Reactions to Chua's memoir, and her essay about the book in a Wall Street Journal article this past week, fall into three categories:
1) deep anxiety from parents who now worry their self-esteem-oriented approaches to child-rearing won't lead to adults "successful" in the competitive, global marketplace;
2) disgust from parents horrified at Chua's cruelty (Chua's article has even elicited death threats);
3) shock from Chinese-Americans--who were raised by "Tiger Mommies" like Chua--that a mother in another generation is hell-bent on producing inevitably emotionally scarred adults.

Chua's method centers on the children's unquestioning obedience to parents and teachers. They learn, academically and otherwise, by rote memorization and endless practice, with no time out for play. Chua's is a no-questions-asked, my-way-or-the-highway method deeply opposed to Western-style educational philosophies propounded by Rousseau, Froebel, Dewey, Montessori, and especially Socrates. It has no room for poetry, or art, or theater, or for playing music for the fun of it.

Chua defends all this by arguing that there's no fun in doing something until you're really good at it, and to become really good at something requires her kind of imposed discipline. She does, however, allow a few hugs and cuddles, and there's a "good cop" non-Chinese Dad who takes the girls to Yankee games. Happy photographs of Chua and her daughters have been plastered all over the media, and friends testify that Chua's family is indeed a happy family. But there's no question that Chua is a mommy on a mission. Short-term goal: all A's at school and pianists' skills at Carnegie Hall level. Long-term goal: daughters who are tough, brilliant super-achievers just like she is.
Does the "Tiger Mommy" method work? If you're a reductionist who believes people fall into two camps--winners and losers--maybe so. I've no doubt that many American parents practice a laissez-faire style of childrearing in which their kids don't do their homework, watch too much television, play too many video games, and generally run wild. But to correct this by something that's simply bullying by another name, by considering your child's appetite for play as an impediment to being admitted to Harvard, and raising your child to be the human equivalent of a show horse, casts a profound and despairing pall over human existence. The suicide rate for Asian-American women ages 15-24 is, incidentally, the highest for any race or ethnicity in that age group. So, I for one hope that Chua's "Tiger Mommy" methods remain confined to a certain small circle of control freaks
who see in their children nothing but little them's. And I hope Americans as a whole can find their way to improved educational standards without destroying the natural élan that makes children so joyful and curious.
After reading about the hoopla over Chua's book, and the author's piece in the WSJ (in which much is probably exaggerated in the venal interest of promoting a book), I couldn't help but wonder how Chua views her fellow human beings, or even her colleagues at Yale. Are they good enough for a winner like her? Indeed, is Chua good enough for herself? Her bio indicates that her Harvard A.B. degree was stamped a mere magna cum laude
and not summa, and that she emerged from law school with a lowly, unembellished cum laude. What? Not the tippy-top? Too many sleepovers and going to the bathroom when that piano piece was less than perfect? My goodness, the shame of it all!


~ What is particularly alarming (sentiment and approach aside) is the large amount of human development and family studies literatures that gets brushed aside when there is one standard, one formula and one dominant path. What we know about family life and education is that students develop at different rates (much like the body). To accelerate this process through academic achievement boot camp is to place one template on a whole group and ask students (unconsciously), teachers/parent systems (consciously) to be complicit in programming/indoctrination....

~ Selling Reductionism (winners and losers) in the name of education (NCLB) or in the business world of STEM is a conscious decision to let markets educate our children rather than people... The people most vulnerable to this myth are those who choose to see things with a black-white, good-bad lens....

~ I have been hoping that at some point people here at CHE would view the Harvard, Yale (IVY) degrees with the type of disdain that accelerated the academic arms of race of tuition, brought down wall street financial institutions and are comprised of the |FINANCIAL LITERACY| wealthiest benefactors (usually) in the country. At a time where we need someone to take paternity over their responsibilities for failures in: 1) economy, 2) social safety net institutions, 3) local and municipal governments, 4) politics, and so, I am always amazed how quickly we forget where so many of our crooks have been educated.....

~ The emphasis Chua places on her own ethnicity is a bit fishy. Why should anyone particularly care what a descendant of the Han thinks about child rearing? Is there some exotic insight here that is intended to catalyze a new trend, with attending book sales? This smells like marketing, with a racist whiff of ethnocentricity.

~ In all humility, I'm confident that cystitis inducing disciplinary tactics never helped anyone learn piano.

~ The notion that Amy Chua has learned humility is flapdoodle. She is willingly participating in a marketing campaign for her book that is outrageously provocative, cross-ethnically inflammatory, pitiably reductionist, and borderline self-hatingly racist. If her "text" is more nuanced than that, she is the one who is misreading and misrepresenting herself. As it is, she is coming across as someone who wants to gain fame as the Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin of child-rearing. Hey, there might be a niche. But this is a woman who truly deserves her backlash--even though, alas, she will in no way truly suffer from it, since it will simply serve to goose her book sales.

~ As a Yalie, I'm embarrassed that my university's law school harbors someone whose aspirations to the limelight are about on par with those of the nearest reality TV contestant. But my rage can't begin to compare with that of the millions of Chinese women that Chua is maligning, as a Google search will reveal.




10/28/14 Over 2,000 Chinese students have been caught cheating during a national exam, using elaborate high-tech gear to do so. Chinese state television reported on Sunday that invigilators detected abnormal radio signals from an illegal frequency during national licensing tests for pharmacists in Shaanxi province. Candidates were caught with earpieces through which answers to the test questions were transmitted. The organisers of the cheating scam sent fake candidates to take the test first and who then memorised the questions. They then broadcast the answers to candidates sitting the exam, who each paid $330. "It is the worst scandal over the past few years," Du Fangshuai, the chief of Shaanxi testing authority, said. "We've caught 2,440 candidates in total at seven test centres. At one centre there were 700 candidates cheating at the test. The South China Morning Post that the number caught cheating accounted for one in 10 of the 25,000 who sat the exam in Shaanxi. The total number caught cheating accounted for almost one in 10 of the 25,000 candidates who sat the test in the province. The South China Morning Post said that Shaanxi has a shortage of pharmacists currently and that the licensing test - seven separate 180-minute exams - was incredibly competitive. Hence, scams such as these often do occur. China's "gaokao" exams - which students take to win a place at the country's universities - are infamously difficult and cheating has become widespread. In June 2013 invigilators in Zhongxiang in Hubei province used metal detectors to take mobile phones and secret transmitters off students while others patrolled the perimeter of the exam area to stop anyone sending signals. This proved too much for the parents of those inside who trapped the invigilators inside the building and started a mini riot over their heavy-handed tactics. Even the USA is aware of the Chinese cheating culture,with CNN reporting in July that US admission officers believe one in ten applications to U.S. colleges by Chinese students may contain faked documents.


Study: Many college students not learning to think critically Jan. 17, 2011
According to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn't determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin. Arum, whose book "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses" (University of Chicago Press)
The study also showed that students who studied alone made more significant gains in learning than those who studied in groups. "I'm not surprised at the results," said Stephen G. Emerson, the president of Haverford College in Pennsylvania. "Our very best students don't study in groups. They might work in groups in lab projects. But when they study, they study by themselves." The study marks one of the first times a cohort of undergraduates has been followed over four years to examine whether they're learning specific skills.

Scientific Studies: The Perils of Unleashing Students' Skepticism
A maze study, cited by Tetlock, that pitted rats against Yale undergraduates. Sixty percent of the time, researchers placed food on the left side of a fork in the maze; otherwise the food was placed randomly. After figuring out that the food was more often on the left side of the fork, the rats turned left every time and so were right 60 percent of the time. Yale students, discerning illusory patterns of left-right placement, guessed right only 52 percent of the time. Yes, the rats beat the Yalies! The counterintuitive lesson, I suggested, is that the smarter you are, the more likely you may be to "discover" patterns in the world that aren't actually there.

Education At a Glance 2010 -OECD (2010), PISA 2009 Results: Executive Summary
This publication features data on education from the 31 OECD member countries, five non-OECD member countries that participate in the OECD Indicators of Education Systems Programme (INES), namely Brazil, Estonia, Israel, the Russian Federation and Slovenia, and three non-OECD member countries that participate in the OECD's Enhanced Engagement process, namely China, India and Indonesia.
When this publication went to print, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia were in the final stages of accession to the OECD but were not yet OECD members. Accordingly, the present edition does not include these three countries in the list of OECD countries and the calculation of OECD averages.

Korea and Finland are the highest performing OECD countries, with mean scores of 539 and 536 points, respectively. However, the partner economy Shanghai-China outperforms them by a significant margin, with a mean score of 556. Top-performing countries or economies in reading literacy include Hong Kong-China (with a mean score of 533),
Singapore (526), Canada (524), New Zealand (521), Japan (520) and Australia (515). The Netherlands (508), Belgium (506), Norway (503), Estonia (501), Switzerland (501), Poland (500), Iceland (500) and Liechtenstein (499) also perform above the OECD mean score of 494, while the United States, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, France, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Portugal, and partner economy Chinese Taipei have scores close to the OECD mean.
The lowest performing OECD country, Mexico, has an average score of 425. This means that the gap between the highest and lowest performing OECD countries is 114 points – the equivalent of more than two school years. And the gap between the highest and lowest performing partner country or economy is even larger, with 242 score points – or more than six years of formal schooling – separating the mean performance of Shanghai-China and Kyrgyzstan (314).
Differences between countries represent, however, only a fraction of overall variation in student performance. Addressing the educational needs of such diverse populations and narrowing the gaps in student performance that have been observed remains a formidable challenge for all countries. In 18 participating countries, including Mexico, Chile and Turkey, the highest reading proficiency level achieved by most students was the baseline Level 2.
Level 2 is considered a baseline level of proficiency, at which students begin to demonstrate the reading skills that will enable them to participate effectively and productively in life.
At the other end of the proficiency spectrum, an average of 7.6% of students attain Level 5, and in Singapore, New Zealand and Shanghai-China the percentage is more than twice the OECD average. Korea, with a country mean of 546 score points, performed highest among OECD countries in the PISA 2009 mathematics assessment. The partner countries and economies Shanghai-China, Singapore and Hong Kong-China rank first, second and third, respectively.
Shanghai-China, Finland, Hong Kong-China and Singapore are the four highest performers in the PISA 2009 science assessment. Some 14.6% of students in Shanghai-China and 12.3% of students in Singapore attain the highest levels of proficiency in all three assessment subjects.
High-level skills are critical for innovation and, as such, are key to economic growth and social development. On average, across OECD countries, 16.3% of students are top performers in at least one of the subject areas of science, mathematics or reading. However, only 4.1% of 15-year-old students are top performers in all three assessment subject areas.
Girls outperform boys in reading skills in every participating country.
Throughout much of the 20th century, concern about gender differences in education focused on girls' underachievement. More recently, however, the scrutiny has shifted to boys' underachievement in reading. In the PISA 2009 reading assessment, girls outperform boys in every participating country by an average, among OECD countries, of 39 PISA score points – equivalent to more than half a proficiency level or one year of schooling.
On average across OECD countries, boys outperform girls in mathematics by 12 score points while gender differences in science performance tend to be small, both in absolute terms and when compared with the large gender gap in reading performance and the more moderate gender gap in mathematics. The ranks of top-performing students are filled nearly equally with girls and boys. On average across OECD countries, 4.4% of girls and 3.8% of boys are top performers in all three subjects, and 15.6% of girls and 17.0% of boys are top performers in at least one subject area. While the gender gap among top-performing students is small in science (1% of girls and 1.5% of boys), it is
significant in reading (2.8% of girls and 0.5% of boys) and in mathematics (3.4% of girls and 6.6% of boys).

Chinese and Indian Entrepreneurs Are Eating America's Lunch
Watch out, Silicon Valley: China and India aren't just graduating bad engineers and stealing intellectual property anymore. They're fostering innovations that will shake the world. BY VIVEK WADHWA | DECEMBER 28, 2010
Earlier this month, Americans woke up to the bad news that their education system was just "average" in the developed world. Worse news, however, was that Shanghai, China took the top spot. For a country already in a declinist mood, this was a blow. Perhaps not even U.S. President Barack Obama thought the future would arrive so quickly: As he told a group of educators at the White House earlier this year, the "nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow."
America is rightfully worried about its sinking competitiveness, and does indeed need to improve its education system. But it could win the battle and lose the war, because India's and China's successes aren't due to their education systems, but despite them. You've probably heard of Indian outsourcing hotspots like Bangalore and Chennai, but it's not just call centers and software sweatshops Americans now need to worry about: Technology entrepreneurship is booming all over in China and India, and is beginning to innovate; these startups will soon start competing with Silicon Valley. The next Google could well be cooked up in a garage in Guangzhou or Ahmedabad.
Indian and Chinese children are very much like their counterparts in the United States -- intelligent, open-minded, and motivated to change the world. They receive poor education on average, but many are able to rise above that. And the United States is giving an unintended boost to these countries by sending away highly educated skilled foreign workers.
India and China now graduate three to six times more engineers than does the United States. The quality of these engineers is, however, so poor that most are not fit to join the workforce; their system of rote learning handicaps those who do get jobs, so that it takes two to three years for them to achieve the same productivity as American graduates. As a result, significant proportions of China's engineering graduates end up working on factory floors; Indian industry has to spend large sums of money on retraining its employees, as my research team at Duke and Harvard learned.
Despite this, India has built a $73 billion-per-year information technology service business and has been offering IT services of steadily increasing sophistication. Its engineering R&D industry is now a $10 billion business -- a three-fold increase in four years. It develops sophisticated products for Western firms in the aerospace and automotive industries, and in telecommunications, semiconductors, consumer electronics, and medical devices. And most significantly, there are thousands of new startups that are building web technologies, clean-tech products like low-power lighting, and mobile applications. [snip]




Children of Immigrants are America's Science Superstars
Adding fuel to the fiery debate over immigration policy, a study released Tuesday shows that top science achievers in the U.S. are overwhelmingly the children of immigrants.The study, conducted by the National Foundation for American Policy, found that 70 percent of the finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition -- also known as the "Junior Nobel Prize" -- were the children of immigrants even though only 12 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born.



Confessions of a Chinese graduate by Eric Mu
When I was a kid, university graduates were as rare as unicorns, now they are more like popcorn: cheap and plentiful. No big surprise, considering there are millions of fresh ones every year to join a large pool of millions of existing ones. All are desperate for white-collar jobs that are not easy to come by in China's manufacturing economy. The problem of university graduates finding jobs has been debated in the media for at least a decade as a difficult social issue and it never improves.
My father is a cleaner at a local paper mill. In his mid-fifties without any professional skills, he works for 50 yuan a day. What can 50 yuan buy?  Two cups of coffee at this not-too-fancy coffee shop in Beijing where I am typing these words. But if you are a college graduate and want to find a job in my hometown, you can expect to start with an even lower salary than my father. Earlier this year when I went back to my home village, my parents told me that a girl in the village had gone mad. Why? She went to college, where she studied English for four years, and the best job she could get was to peel shrimps with coworkers, who finished middle school and were at least four years younger than her.
So, a college degree, once a coveted holy grail, a glamorous passport to a fulfilled and secure life, has lost its luster, right? So  people are shunning it and pursuing happiness through a different course, right? The fact is that despite the bleak financial prospects and diminishing advantages of being a graduate, the competition to become one has never been any less severe.
My high school life, which was not so long ago, might give you a small glimpse into the real situation: How too much competition poisons people's relationships, and how when you feel that the guy sitting beside you is your potential enemy who may rob you of a lifetime of happiness, altruism is not going to be your guiding diplomacy. Students hold to themselves and are reluctant to help others. If you have a math question you cannot crack, you keep it to yourself, because all the students are very proprietary about their learning. To offer your knowledge or even your questions for free is not only time consuming but an aid to  your enemies.
I have to say that high school is a monastery and an army boot camp combined. Eleven classes every day. We had to rise before dawn and went to bed after 11. After the last class, we were encouraged to use any bit of extra time for study. There was one student who would go to read his lessons every night in the toilet, because that was the only place where the light would be kept on 24 hours. Everyone hated him, because his breach of a delicate equilibrium that is vital for us to live in peace with each other — he studied just a little too hard. The school encouraged us to be frugal with our time. It had a slogan hanging from the main building: “Time is like water in sponge; if you squeeze harder, there is always more.”
Even though you can always squeeze, even God may need to take a day off every week. For high school students, it was every four weeks. The day was meant for us to go home to pick up some spare clothes and money to sustain us for the next four weeks. But it also offered a rare chance of leisure. One day, think about it, ten hours of freedom, plus undisrupted sleep. How wonderful! I always anticipated the day so much that I kept planning and planning: Going to the bookstore to read the history book that I hadn't finished? Going to the noodle place in the market to have noodles with lamb soup? When the day eventually came, not a single second passed without causing great anxiety in me like a stingy man counting every penny that he has to shell out.
Teachers are a mixture of army training sergeants and Amway salesmen. The former abuses, the later promises. A teacher is not only expected to teach, he also needs to motivate. Some male teachers were very good at that, capable of evoking in their subjects the deepest sense of shame that even a Freudian would admire. They did it with verbal ingenuity that a rapper would envy. I remember a teacher once warned us that if we didn't work hard we would “go and poke a dog's teeth,” What he meant was that we would end up being tramps or beggars. Now many years have passed but the image of myself with a beggar's pole trying to fend off a bunch of barking dogs still haunts me.
The first few days of my high school life I was pumped up by a sense of triumphalism and I was a bit stuck up. After all, I had just passed a very difficult exam, I thought. My teacher spotted that dangerous tendency and he talked to me about it. At first he was using metaphorical language, telling me how a full bucket cannot take any more water. When he found out that I was not improving, he called me an ingrate and a mistake of my parents. It was only later that I realized that the teacher didn't say that only to me. He said it to most students with the exception of the very best and the very worst in the class. The top ones were treated with respect and the worst don't deserve his time because it won't make a difference anyway.
It was not only the students dealing with a lot of stress, but the teachers as well. A teacher's salary was correlated by how many of the students that they were responsible for went to university. Even the school principal would be evaluated on such statistics. At my junior year, a girl committed suicide. Not a big surprise. There are always weak ones who just can't make it. That is how natural selection works. The cause of the suicide was that the girl's head teacher asked her to forgo the college entrance exam. Not that he hated her personally. He simply talked to all the students who were deemed hopeless and would only dilute the average results of the class. The girl refused. The teacher told the girl something that must have been very humiliating, and she drowned herself in the sea that afternoon.
Three years of running this strenuous marathon.The inevitable climax was more of an anticlimax. The test didn't turn out to be as I had imagined it – a grand battle. I had been seeing myself on stage, with a war bugle blowing and bullets whizzing by and here I was, a soldier crouching in his trench and ready for a bayonet charge, to take my fate by its throat. The reality was much duller though. A room packed with 40 students huddling in front of their small desks, under the scrutiny of a surveillance cam and two chatty supervisors. We were no warriors but prisoners. If we were fighting for anything, it was just for our own survival.
During the few days prior to the exam, some interesting changes took place. My head teacher seemed to have a personality transplant. He appeared to be a different person. He was now such a nice guy that I barely recognized him. In our final class, he gave us his goodbye speech. He told us how pleasant it had been working with us for the past three years, that he had been proud of us and would never forget us. I had been thinking the exact opposite – that we were the worst class he had ever taught and that he had always hated us — particularly me, the sullen mean type who just won't cooperate — and wanted to wipe us from from his memory as soon as we are gone.
He proceeded with his emotion-charged speech. “If I ever hurt any of you, it was not my intention. As a teacher , I always had my students' best interests in mind.” Some girls were moved to cry. “One day as a teacher, a life as a father,” he quoted an ancient saying, which gave me a feeling of embarrassment for the hypocrisy.
All theatrics aside, the message was clear to me: “I know I abused you but I don't want to be hated. Now, as you are about to leave, there is no point for me to be harsh any more. What can be done can't be undone, and it is all the past, so let's move on and forget it and be friendly to each other.”
“I love you.” was the signal for the end of the speech, a rather clichéd wrap-up. “We love you too.” The students yelled back. Liars!
But a ritual like this worked. Reconciliation was achieved. Damages were forgiven. Grudges healed. Even I, the most foolhardy, unrelenting hater, felt that it might not be fair to blame the guy for his offensive remarks about me. He was, after all, doing his job.
The morning before the exam started, I walked through a crowd of students' parents. They were anxious and gazing expectantly at their children, praying that they would ace the test. My dad was there too. He brought me a can of Red Bull.
“Son, don't be nervous.” My dad passed me the can.
How can I not be nervous seeing you wimpy like that? I was thinking, gulping down the liquid.
“Your teacher said you are good. He said you have no problem.”
My teacher? My teacher doesn't care about me at all. All he cares about is statistics.
“We can try again next year if you fail.”
But next year. How many next year I am going to have?
But I just said bye to my dad, throwing the tin can as far as I could, and strode into the exam room, ready to take my destiny by the throat, or, be taken by my throat.
The three days of examinations proceeded without incident, except occasionally the kid in front of me snuck a look or two at my exam sheet and the teachers there pretended not to see it at all, or they were too involved in their chat. But how can I let my three years of hard work be stolen by this sneaky bastard? I stared back at him with my hard, venomous eyes, covering my sheet up. The thief turned his head back.
Then everything was over. I walked out of the room feeling like an abandoned condom, used and hollow. Exhausted too. All I wanted to do was to catch up on all the sleep that I had missed over the past three years. It was not only because I was so sleepy, I wanted to sleep away the horrible three years, to forget them like a bad dream. When I woke up again, I hoped that I would find myself a fresh person with a new life.
A month later, I got the admission letter from a university, my family was exhilarated. But I was only relieved to have my burden removed, if only temporally. I know intuitively that the university would by no means as wonderful as the teacher depicted to me. Compared with three years ago, I was now older and in no small measure, wiser.
My feeling was vindicated; university life was but another cycle. We would go through another round of anxiety, angst, boredom and disillusion, only with different tokens for goals: then it was about passing the exam and going to university, now it was about becoming a Party member and finding a girlfriend and getting a job.

Quiet! Chinese teachers try to teach in Britain
A BBC documentary that showed Chinese teachers trying to cope with pupils at a school in Britain has won top marks from viewers in China, where the first episode of “Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School,” when five Chinese teachers attempted to give British students in year nine lessons in math, science, Mandarin and PE. Viewers who streamed the program in China were amused by British children. One viewer suggested online that Chinese teachers should learn to interact with students more equally. “One-way lecturing won’t help students’ creative thinking. It’s no coincidence that very few Chinese have won Nobel prizes,” the viewer’s post said. Chu Zhaohui, a researcher with the National Institute of Education Sciences, said that unquestioning obedience originates in Chinese tradition, but was not necessarily a good legacy to be passed on today, when young people are more aware of and identify with individual values.

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