Age-old cramming, or the American way?

  • AseanPlus News
  • Tuesday, 30 Aug 2005

IS CHINA'S educational system successful? 

C.N. Yang, a Nobel laureate in physics, said on Aug 14 that “China's higher education is quite successful in teaching the young people.” 

His remark set off a barrage of criticism and rebuttal. 

Yang, a Chinese American who has lived in China for 20 years and in the United States for 60 years, based his appraisal on a lifetime of observations.  

For example, the Tsinghua University freshmen he has taught are “more solid in their knowledge, more attentive in class and more hardworking than their US counterparts.”  

They can rattle off maths formulae with ease while US college freshmen have yet to settle into serious learning mode.  

However, these are exactly the symptoms of malaise in China's education in the eyes of critics. 

The current system cannot create first-class talent, according to Shing-Tung Yau, a Harvard professor.  

There are many reasons for grumbling, but at the core of the issue is a conflict: Which method of teaching is better? 

The traditional Chinese pedagogy, as personified by cramming books down the throats of students, or the Western way of inspiring students and letting their creativity run free? 

Some call it the “American way,” which they believe has given rise to the abundance of world's leading scientists and artists in the US. – China Daily 

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