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The Differences Between Education Systems in China and the United States

–by Hao “Nina” Li–China and America both are powerful leading states in the world. However, the educational systems in these two countries have big differences. I have received a basic education in China for 12 years. Nowadays, as an international student in the United States, I am attracted to the American education system. I am very pleased that I am receiving a better education here for three reasons. 

When it comes to American education, the first phrase that comes to my mind is “critical thinking”. The definition of critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement. In American classrooms, teachers and professors encourage students to think and put forward their own ideas. In other words, they prefer to see their students debate and defend their ideas instead of keeping silent during the whole class. If a student disagrees with the teacher’s opinions in public and presents reasonable arguments, the teachers will be proud of their students rather than feeling ashamed. However, in Chinese classrooms, the first thing you are taught in elementary school is “teachers are right”and students must keep quiet in class. Debating with your teacher in class means you disrespect your teacher. Teachers have the authority and you cannot refute them. When you feel confused and you ask them, most of the time they will answer that “this is from the book and just make sure to remember it”. Another difference is that the American education system encourages students to come up with questions; in contrast,  the purported purpose of Chinese education is to ensure that students have no questions. This causes a phenomenon where some students are always reading, but never thinking and some students earn high grades, but have low analytical abilities. The third difference is that American education not only attaches importance to academic studies, but also social practices. School is not the only way to obtain knowledge. Students usually have a lot of time to experience social activities. However, China has the largest population in the world, and there are still shortages of quality schools. It means that not everyone has access to higher education; students must study under great pressure. Every Chinese high school student is obligated to study at least 11 hours in school everyday. Since students spend most of their time studying,  they have no spare time for social activities. 

Different countries have different educational systems. I prefer the free and full discussion environment I’ve found in American classrooms. I prefer to think and develop my own ideas. As a Chinese student, I hope Chinese education will improve in the future. My wish is for Chinese students in the United States to get  high grades and develop skills that they can use professionally when they return to their native country. 

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