The purpose for China’s modern education: passion for self-improvement or just making superb test-takers

In Nick Kristof’s New York Times article he says China is rising and having a huge impact on every aspect of the world because of its heavy investment in education and human capital, particularly in young women.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Kristof uses the Chinese phrase “chi ku” or “eating bitterness” to indicate the reason why China is rising.

As a legacy of Confucianism, the Chinese citizens have shown a passion for education and self-improvement – along with remarkable capacity for discipline and hard work, which are qualities that the Western people should learn.

But China’s exam-oriented education system has been criticized for decades. Some critics say the purpose for China’s modern education is not due to the passion for self-improvement, but the need for competition and  survival. The result: a system that makes superb test-takers.

Chen Weihua, an editor at the state-run China Daily, wrote, “I carry a strong feeling of bitterness. The making of superb test-takers comes at a high cost, often killing much of, if not all, the joy of childhood.”

“They do very well in those subjects the teacher assigns them. They have huge vocabularies and they do math well. However, the level of their creativity and imagination is low,” said Xiong Bingqi, and education expert at Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University.

About Ka Li

Ka Li is currently a master's student doing Global Communication at USC Annenberg School. She got her Bachelor's degree in English at Beijing Institute of Technology, and the first master's degree in Global Media and Communications at London School of Economics and Political Science.
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