Chinese school – Are our kids tough enough?
In August 2015, the BBC broadcasted a 3-part programme called ‘Are our kids tough enough? Chinese school’. The programme documented a 4-week experiment, to see if the teaching styles used in China could have an effect on British students at Bohunt school, a comprehensive secondary school in Hampshire.
The debate around different education systems is not new. In 2012, education systems in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong came top in the Pisa tests, while the UK did not rank in the top 20 in reading, maths or science.
At the end of the experiment, the students took their exams and their results were compared to those who were taught in regular classes at the school. Although pupils who were taught by the Chinese teachers got better marks, I was left feeling that the experiment didn’t really look beyond the focus on testing which exists in the English education system.
The predictable constant disruption from some students also became a distraction, taking away from the focus on teaching styles. It also didn’t help that the headmaster of the school was presented as being quite defensive, seeing it as a competition between east and west, rather than an opportunity to identify any aspects of the Chinese teaching style that could enhance education in his school. No education system is perfect, so surely there are things that we can learn from each other.
The programme perhaps demonstrates that teaching styles only takes you so far; it is the motivation of the students to learn that matters more and the value they place on their education (Suli Breaks offers an interesting view on this in his spoken word video). It doesn’t matter if a lesson is all-singing, all-dancing if students aren’t interested in the content. Would you be motivated when research such as that from the CIPD has shown that the majority of graduates in the UK are working in non-graduate jobs?
On a final note, there is an interesting debate on the Open Learn website page relating to the TV programme, not least because some people in China appear to have heard of the programme and decided to offer their opinions on what they see as the realities of the Chinese education system.