The Difference Between East And West Classrooms| 6 min read
- Student Focus
In China education is seen as the way to get the best job that has the most influence. Thus, from the time children can be put in school, they are bombarded with homework, memorization and the constant pressure to excel. As a result of this type of schooling and pressure, high school students are much more focused and well behaved. This can be a huge shock to foreign or western teachers, and they have to adjust their teaching styles. With western teachers, Chinese students will likely look up to them, because in the Chinese mind, westerners represent money, success and power, thus the students are very obedient and will work really hard to impress them.
It is not all ease to teach a class of Chinese students, though they don’t fight and rarely argue, they come with different difficulties. Because of the massive amounts of work they are required to know in Chinese schools, the art of memorization is a common practice. In some circumstances this is a good skill to have, but this is the only way Chinese students are taught to learn. Critical thinking and application of knowledge is very difficult for Chinese students, due to a dearth of a more interactive style of teaching. For example, though math is often the best subject for Chinese students, when learning about mathematical logic it is very difficult for them to understand.
Another issue that often arises, is the amount of time spent on computers. Granted they are very computer literate, but often the boys will spend hours playing computer games and the girls shopping. The only issue with this is the interference it can have with their schoolwork or the amount of sleep they get at night.
In reality, as long as you make sure your students know who’s boss of the classroom they will be like putty in your hands, that you will help shape and mold. In another article there is a very well balanced examination of the differences between the East and West classroom which will give a little more insight into the subject.
The West often promotes the idea of individuality, personality and standing on ones own, which cultivates a lot of creativity in arts and other areas. Due to this mentality many effective ways of teaching take a backseat to creativity. In many schools the result of this is lazy students who are not forced to practice or develop self-discipline or effective methods of cultivating the equally important value of hard work.
In China however, creativity is rarely considered and academic performance is much more important. Often Chinese students will come home with mountains of homework and much of that work requires rote memorization. While the art of memorizing large quantities of information is a great skill, the one-way focus on it creates a lack of creative and critical thinking skills, which are important in life internationally. Thus, while teaching a class of Chinese students it generally requires teaching critical thinking skills along with the specific subject.
Asking “why” is not common in a Chinese class either. With so many years of rote memorization most students are taught to simply take what is said as truth and not question (another reason critical thinking is absent.) Thus, while teaching a class it will take time for the students to feel comfortable asking questions and creating their own opinion.