April 2019

One problem in China’s higher education

In the last class, I was excited to know that many classmates were so interested in China’s higher education. They were wondering why most Chinese students work so hard and curious about our lives outside the classroom. I think our universities will become more similar to the universities in the U.S. as time goes by because an increasing number of young faculty members have received degrees abroad. Their learning experience may affect their teaching philosophy as well as the way to interact with students.

As a future educator, I think one thing we should change is exam-oriented education. A good example is China’s National College Entrance Examination, also called “Gaokao”. Although most students suffer from Gaokao, it perhaps to be the most “fair” game for children in poor families to compete with other peers. Otherwise, these disadvantaged students do not have sufficient support and resources to develop their soft skills. Besides, lack of trust and corruption raise concern that evaluations based on multiple factors are biased towards people with higher socioeconomic status.

I should be grateful to Gaokao as it enabled me to go to a good university in Beijing from a less-developed area and meet the professor who inspired me to study abroad. However, spending three years to prepare this examination and another two years for TOEFL and GRE was not fun. Exam-oriented education kills curiosity and encourages social comparison based on ranking. Most teenagers do not have time to pursue their true interest outside the class or get involved in community activities like American students do.

In the future, I hope China’s education has less standard tests and more hands-on activities. I hope our classes can be learner-centered instead of instructor-dominated. I wish we can find a better selection method than Gaokao and our kids have equal opportunity to pursue their dreams.

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