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education in asia

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Clay Dube
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education in asia

In addition to discussing how best to teach about Asia, perhaps we should also be discussing education in Asia.

We should include teaching techniques, success stories, and information about problems. This first post is about a problem. The great emphasis on education and success on high-stakes exams has led to innovative uses of new technologies to cheat and to catch cheaters.

Here's a Christian Science Monitor story about the problem:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0609/p01s02-woap.html?s=hns

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Message from oiwuagwu

It's tough enough trying to keep students from cheating in my classroom, but I can only image how hard it would be to enforce honest test taking in universities and high schools. The kids these days have lots of gadgets and ingenious ways of cheating. I think there will always be somebody getting away with cheating of some sort. When the students are expected to be so smart and work so hard it's no reason why they cheat. If they are smart enough to be the best of the best just to get placed in a university, then I'm sure some are clever enough to cheat with out getting caught.

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Message from ljacques

Are there more pressures on students in Asia to be academically successful than there are in the United States? Here, if you don't make it into college because of low test scores or lack of resources, there are still oppotunities for success. Do the same opportunities exist in Asia? I have heard the student suicide rates are higher in Asia than here. And I am under the impression that the pressure to succed is more intense there. But I am interested to know what happens to the ones who either don't make it to the University, or choose not to pursue a University degree.

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Message from jreynolds

I don't know for sure how pervasive it is in truly modern China, but for students whose parents are from a Confucian ideal where education is prized and succeeding is an honor to your family, it would appear that the thought of cheating would be more tantalizing for them when the pressure is getting to them or the subject is more difficult.

As a teacher in my own classes, I notice that the kids whose parents care more about education are more likely to be caught cheating. I think that is because they feel the pressure at home, while the rest of the kids either feel no pressure at home, or minimal pressure at home. At school, at least at mine, it is NOT cool to care for your own sake about your education. So kids have to deal with the emotional pressure from their friends at the most important time in their lives AND the punitive measures of their parents when they do not succeed. Some of the students give in to both by having fun with their friends, and not studying, but then cheating when they have the opportunity. Hopefully, whether they are caught or not they learn the reasons why cheating is bad.

In China, they do not appear to have friends telling them how lame and nerdy they are if they care about their grades. So the pressure is all on success and honor. I think that would make it even more tempting.... but mostly only in the cases where it was too much pressure or stress on a particular student. I don't think they all go around cheating.... still case by case. It just might up the percentage a tiny bit. What do you think.....?

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Message from jreynolds

I was just reading this article:
http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=41421

I find it very interesting because there are similar controversies here. Of course, we are luckier in that the government doesn't implicitly control the media and people don't get fired for expressing basic opinions. However, there is still some question over what does and doesn't belong in our textbooks and why.

I have heard complaints about forced multiculturalism (like for instance, why in the world is Ruth in the 6th grade content standards for History in Judaism? Just because they wanted to fit the woman bill... is the answer you will get from many people). Some people want more details and less fluff, others want less fluff and less details, leaving those to the teacher and explaining in a way students can actually understand the basic concept of what they are learning. We have controversies in Middle America about including Intelligent Design and Evolution in textbooks, and we argue over how brutally we should explain how Americans treated various different people over our history including American Indians, Asian and European Immigrants, African Americans, etc.

Again, this is something that really shows how similar this culture is that seems so foriegn to our non-Asian students. I always like to show how the differences can be enthralling, yet there are always elements that show we are all related somehow, sharing many different things with other cultures.

While people in China are still risking their careers and who knows what else to get out the truth perhaps they will eventually fight their way to a democratic society. Something they haven't had last in their country when tried in the past, but with modernization and the ability to communicate with other cultures, perhaps they will... if they want it. It's interesting because there are so many people in China. The people we see the most are the government or educated and live in the cities. But there are many many people that live in the villages. How do they feel about things like this? And... does anyone know if they all get an education? Is it limited? Or free government education like here. I thought it was not limited until college, but I could be wrong.

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Message from nmacanish

I find that the more advanced we are, the more advanced our students are going to get. Cheating has taken on a whole new perspective. There are teachers here who use a web site where it can verify whether a paper has been plagiarized. This is in response to the students who can pay to download a paper from other web sites. Some even let you tell them what elements need to be in the paper and they write it up for you. Very ingenious. Cheating has probably been around as long as school. I think it is sad that these students are so anxious about succeeding that they will risk everything. We are beginning to raise a generation of students that suffer from stress before they've even started life. Some of my students have crazier schedules than I've ever had, even in the midst of working and going to school. I think that we should name them gen stress.

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Message from vhui

These technologies and strategies that students are using are so out there. It just keeps showing how important that one exam is or how much pressure students have to face. Should something new or different be done to handle the situation?

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Message from vgairola

Yes, there is a lot of pressure from the family to get educaiton in Asia. Since I did my schooling and University in India, I can say that the question of going or not going to college does not arise. It is generally assumed that after high school (which is not an occasion for any fanfare the likes of which we have here in the U.S.), the student will obviously going to continue on to college. Parents go through a lot of sacrifice - like giving up smoking, cutting down on their meals, etc. to put their kids thorugh good private schools and then colleges. Most of the time, the students reciprocate the sacrifices of their parents by facing humungous odds to study.
Just a few months back, a son of a loborer making Rs.3000 (about $80 a month)in India, topped the all-India medical exam test. Once his achievement was in the news, lot of Indians settled abroad offerred private donations for his higher studies but instead he has opted to accept a bank loan and put all the donations he is getting from others into a trust account to fund the education of other students.
A guy who used to play soccer with us, came from not-too-well-off family and even though they lived in a major city, his home could not afford electricity. So this guy used to wrap himself up in comforters and use to do his homework and studying sitting under a street light even though it gets freezing cold in winter. His dedication did pay off and he has a good paying job now.
There are many other instances I know off where students dedicate themselvs in face of adverse conditions they are living in to get education. Japan, these days is pretty well off with all amenities, but I'm sure students in China still go through tough conditions to get education, assisted by their parents.
At times I share these real life stories with my students when they are whining - 'I'm not having any fun"! with the hope that it will motivate them.

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Message from vhui

That is something good to mention to students how education is so important to students in Asia and what they would do to do well. Maybe it can get some of them to realize not to take it for granted because of opportunities here.

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Message from vgairola

I came across this article online from 'Times of India' and I think it is pretty interesting because kids normally don't go against their parent's wishes to this extent in India -

NOT ALLOWED TO STUDY, GIRL SUES FOLKS

17 Jul, 2006 1144hrs Times of India

Girl drags parents to court for studying further
JAIPUR: A 19-year-old girl in Rajasthan wanted to study further, but her parents confined her to the house. Determined to follow her dream, she dragged her folks to the court, where the parents realised their mistake.

"I wanted to study, but my parents compelled me to do household work and were planning to get me married. When I resisted, they beat me up and kept me in captivity for over a month," said Rubina Khan, who passed her Class 12 exam this year and wants to take admission in a college.

Not willing to forsake her desire, Rubina wrote a letter to the Rajasthan High Court and the director general of police.

Acting on the letter, the police conducted a raid at her residence and rescued her.

"We found the girl locked in a room. After we set her free, she said she wanted to come along with us to the police station, where she narrated her story," said investigating officer Rajendra Singh.

He added that the police registered a case against her parents and handed her over to her relatives in the Brahmpuri area as she had requested.

Rubina's parents told the police that she was not good at her studies but still they had sought admission for her in a college. She was rejected as she did not have the required marks, they maintained.

The case was also taken up by the high court, which ordered that all the arrangements be made for her study.

"The parents felt sorry in the court and the girl said she wanted to go back to her parents' house," said Singh.

"We are taking reports about the girl from her parents every day and things are okay now," he added.

Rubina said: "I am feeling very sorry that I took my parents to the court. But I had no other option, as I could not let my year go waste. I don't know if what I did was right," she said.

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Message from vgairola

I think your post about students in Asia/Asian ethnicity students cheating because of pressure from their parents is quite apt. However, students in Asia too cheat though the percentage of students who make a genuine effort to study is camparatively much higher. Also, a minor motivator is to be academically successful from the point of view of 'saving face' in front of their peers. In contrast, in the US, failing the grades is just taking it in a stride without a thought about being 'embarassed' for not making the grade.

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Message from vgairola

Here's an article on student's 'cheating' in Asia -

CHEATING RIFE IN VIETNAMESE EXAMS
By Bill Hayton
BBC News, Hanoi (Jul 17’06)

Young people feel huge pressure to succeed in the modern world
Tens of thousands of students in Vietnam are taking their college entrance exams on Monday, in the midst of a debate over the level of cheating.
Newspapers have printed dozens of examples of dishonesty, and police have uncovered sophisticated networks.

One teacher even went as far as videoing his own pupils to expose their activities.

Stung by criticism, the government has denounced cheating as a disease and announced action to tackle the problem.

But the pressures to cheat - ranging from parental expectations to the system of awarding scholarships to top students - remain strong.

Hi-tech methods
Last month Do Viet Khoa was an ordinary school teacher in a small town south of the capital.
But then national television broadcast his video of students cheating in their high school graduation exams and eventually, after some delay and embarrassment, he was hailed as a hero by the minister of education.
There is almost an epidemic of cheating in Vietnam. In one province, which announced a 99% pass rate, mobs of students were filmed throwing answer sheets over school walls.
The government has since disciplined eight officials.
In the most sophisticated scam yet discovered, police rounded up a gang using long wigs and mobile phone earpieces to pass on answers to students in university entrance exams.
Educationalists say the problem of cheating is exacerbated by Vietnam's system of learning, which requires students to memorise huge quantities of facts and repeat them in the exam.
At the moment the desire of students to use almost any means to do well seems greater than the ability of education authorities to stop them.

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Message from juliedavis

I found this article about cheating on exams very interesting. I would love to share this article with my students. I teach in the Bilingual Business and Finance Academy at Venice High, where most of the students have the goal of attending college after high school. However, as many other posters have mentioned, the majority of the other students at the school could care less about their academics, so my students (who are mostly hispanic) are trying to get beyond the negative "schoolboy/schoolgirl" image they are labeled with for caring about their grades. In class, we've had Socratic seminars on this very topic, and I remember a time when one student specifically brought up the idea of how all Asian students are smart, and because of this, have it easier. At the time, there was one Asian student in the class, and he explained how he hated this stereotype. He explained that although in his culture it is seen as positive to do well in school, it creates tremendous pressure to live up to a certain standard. He felt that he wasn't as smart as many of his Asian peers, and that they looked down on him because he earned C's in his classes. Although this was pretty obvious to me, it was cool to see the lightbulbs go off in other students' heads that they were stereotyping.

As for cheating and the article, the Indian mother's comments were interesting, but since cheating has been around for so long, I don't think the "this generation just needs instant gratification" idea really holds up that well. It seems to me, also, that in many ways, the U.S. is starting to move toward the levels of standardized testing and rote learning that this article criticizes China for. My students take in one year the high school exit exam, three secondary performance assessments, the SAT, ACT, SAT IIs, AP exams, and the CSTs. Many question why schools focus so much on scores, especially the SAT. I think sharing this article with them would be interesting, because it's as if Asian students are admitted to college based solely on their scores.

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Message from juliedavis

Another good article from the Christian Science Monitor: "China Goes to College in a Big Way" by Amelia Newcomb. http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0729/p01s01-woap.html?s=widep

As with China, it seems that college students in the U.S. are facing similar problems upon graduating from college. Even though this article shows that college enrollment in China is increasing (and outpacing the enrollment of students in the U.S.), getting a four-year degree seems to be decreasing in prestige. It's not a "golden ticket" to opportunity any more, and many students are seeing it as just a stepping stone to success. It does seem sometimes that more choices and opportunities breeds more uncertainty.

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Message from juliedavis

Article/radio broadcast: Life in Rural China: Village Schools Battle Dearth of Teachers, Resources
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5413877

A few months ago, I heard this story on NPR. In fact, we discussed it in class, and I was reminded of it again after seeing a Chinese movie yesterday called Country Teachers. The article details the struggles of rural Chinese teachers who are uncertified. It's extremely difficult to lure certified teachers to these remote, ill-equipped schools, so for years, the schools have taken whichever teachers they could get. Now, however, the Chinese government plans to fire the 300,000 rural Chinese teachers. There is no deadline for the firing, but younger teachers are scared that they will lose their jobs since the tests to achieve certification are so difficult to pass. Another issue is that the government doesn't have enough money to pay the salaries of certified teachers.

When I first heard this story back in May, I sympathized with the teachers, but now I can identify with their plight a little more, albeit not on quite as serious of a level. It seems like this is part of China's "No Child Left Behind Act!" Did George Bush help draft this plan?! I was certified in Iowa, a state known for valuing education, yet when I came to California, I had to take all kinds of additional classes and pass the CBEST in order to teach. After fulfilling these requirements, I received my Professional Clear Credential. I should be finished, right? No. Now, because of the provisions of the NCLB Act, my government, like China's, says I'm not qualified to teach. Why? Because I lack a CLAD certificate to teach English Language Learners. Like China, LAUSD is dealing with the problem of what the government considers "unqualified" teachers. China has 300,000 of these teachers; LAUSD has about 8,000. Also like China, LAUSD has no real deadline for dealing with the problem, but wants to teachers to take classes and/or pass tests at their own expenses to become certified. Supposedly, these tests are quite difficult to pass, but I seriously doubt they're as difficult as China's. Again, although not as severe as in rural China, LAUSD has trouble attracting and paying highly qualified teachers because of its reputation and lack of resources. From hearing this radio broadcast, I further realized that this is a universal problem and that the people making the decisions have good intentions, but are usually not the educators themselves.

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Message from vgairola

The reflection about the plight of rural Chinese teachers (to get certified) and its comparision with the situation of teachers'certification in LAUSD makes an interesting reading and I concur with quite a few points in the posting.
At the same time, it made me think about a school I sponsor in the far-flung area of the Himalayas. The houses/huts are so far apart in some mountain regions that it is not possible to run a regular school because students cannot get to it. These are locations where we can get to on horseback through narrow paths clinging to the mountainside, with a stream or a river flowing hundreds of feet down below, and it's freezing cold even in the summer time. A NGO I donate to, establishes a one room school in a particular spot and a volunteer teacher locally gets about 30 to 35 students from the surrounding houses and the students are taught the basic 3 Rs. This is trully a grass-root level school. I don't think (never thought of checking) the volunteer techer is required to hold any type of credential - he/she probably has a college degree and his/her dedication to impart education to the kids which, by itself, is a big contribution.

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Message from richardrodriguez

I read an article in the New York Times regarding the role of college degrees in China and their great worth. The article explained that various students who attended a college that was aligned with a larger more respected University were actually paying money to have the larger schools name printed on their diplomas. Payment also insured that the sub school’s name would appear nowhere on the diploma. The students learned to their dismay that the college’s name still appeared below the larger University’s name and that their money was lost. So they got mad and rioted and isn’t that what the poor and stupid do? Couldn’t they have worked harder and deserved a real place in the top University?

I’m not sure what’s worse, that the chancellor of the University would allow this and then exploit and defraud these poor students, or the fact that students would actually pay thousands of extra dollars for a few lines of print.

The sad fact for the Chinese population is that the market is so competitive that dropping a name is the only way to get a job. Sure glad that’s not the case in America, right?! Wait, wasn’t something like this going on here in America recently with the internet? And what do you say about an education system that gives great privilege to nothing more than a name? I spent the last year telling my “regular” kids (non-honors and therefore non college bound) that going to Harvard doesn’t matter so much as the pursuit of knowledge and learning does. So go get that job. Tell them you did a semester at the local junior college and see if they really do hire you over the UCLA brat sitting next to you. I understand why the Chinese pay so much for a name, a rose whatever. It’s survival. What would Marx say?

Rioting in China Over Label on College Diplomas
By JOSEPH KAHN

http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10F10FC34550C718EDDAF0894DE404482

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Message from ssaito

Although I moved to the U.S. after the 3rd grade, three fond memories exist of early education in Japan. First, each grade level took class fieldtrips to the local mountains. While I lived in somewhat of a rural area, I equate this experience to students who get to go to tide pools or whale watching in SoCal. Second, each year, we had school-wide athletic mini-Olympics. From running to obstacle courses, the whole school was on the playground for the day. Although I didn't win any one particular thing, the faces of friends and family members was a unforgettable time. Finally, post-kindergarten, I was introduced to true Asian education. We had KP duty by taking turns serving class lunches. We came once a semester on a Saturday to clean the school down. Here we often use paper pick-up as punishment. There, we cleaned because it was our community school. After school often wasn't free either. Juku, after-school private tutoring, was lifeblood for students trying to get a leg up to college. Calligraphy, abacus, English, and music lessons went on until 5 or 6 PM.

I guess some of the reasons for my personal fondness to the rigors of education is that I hate now to be treated soft by my professors or my boss. With professional training and open hearts, educators can establish rules and discipline in the classroom that latter on leads to greater freedom of learning. It is true that many students cannot freely express their opinions in the classrooms in Asia, yet many could recite Western literature that our students cannot begin to comprehend. As a teacher, it is my hope that our students will be internationally fluent much like the students around the world today. Did I enjoy corporal punishment (cane/switch) or life-draining academic lifestyles in Asia, NO! But I know that as a teacher today, I have to deal with more mature subjects in students' lives such as crime and drugs on campus, abuse at home, and more often than not "broken" households. The best way to look at it is, we can't do everything for the students today, but we can give them something for their future... I think that is one of the key to education both here and in Asia.

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Message from juliedavis

I just read an article on Asian Americans and education that attempted to explan different theories of why Asian Americans excel in school. The article contrasts the cultural and relative functionalism views. You can read the article at: http://www.modelminority.com/article1077.html

The article argues that Asian American success in school can't be just attributed to Asian American cultural values. The authors, Stanley Sue and Sumie Okazaki, actually published this article quite a while ago (1990) in American Psychologist magazine, but there is still a lot of discussion about this topic on the ModelMinority site. The authors state that it's not just because Asian Americans value education and upward mobility that they are successful in school. They say that it is a limit in upward mobility in certain areas of American society, mainly in noneducational areas such as leadership, entertainment, sports, politics, etc., and that the more limited these areas are to certain groups, the more desireable education and careers that require education become. There is also an interesting opinion on why children of Chinese peasants do better in the U.S. than in schools in China. This article doesn't have any definitive answers, but rather tries to demystify stereotypes and what they call "folk theories" about why Asian Americans do well in school.

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Message from juliedavis

Education Week Article: "China's Modernization Plan: What U.S. Educator's Can Learn."
March 22, 2006 http://internationaled.org/vivienstewarteducationinChina.pdf

This article offers many reasons why China has been so successful at improving education in recent years. One reason discussed is the fact that China has a clear vision of its goals for education. China plans on implementing a universal 12-year educational program by 2020, and universal preschool by 2015. The article also stresses that there is a strong teacher-preparation program, in which teachers have a national TV network, model lesson plans, help form master teachers, and weekly professional development meetings. Another point made is the intensive focus on math and science in Chinese schools. The article mentions that some would even call it an excessive focus, but because there is so much emphasis, both Chinese males and females do well in math and science--a point that I think would be interesting for further study since in the U.S. there is a stereotype that women aren't as skilled as boys in math and science. Furthermore, Chinese schools are more internationally oriented that American schools, and Chinese students all study English, beginning in grade 3. There is international benchmarking, and teachers are offered salary incentives if their students do well.

This article also mentions challenges in the Chinese system; it doesn't just view the Chinese system as the ultimate model that the U.S. should follow. I found it interesting that the U.S. shares similar challenges, such as a rural/urban educational gap (similar to the achievement gap between different ethnic groups in the U.S.), the emphasis on exams for moving up to higher education, capacity issues (in high schools, it is not uncommon to have 60-70 pupils per class--yikes!)

The article also offers suggestions for American high schools, one being that we need to focus more on countries like China in our classes and redesigning classrooms, since China and other countries are going to be much more a part of the globalized world, and students need awareness in order to compete and succeed in that world.

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Message from juliedavis

http://internationaled.org/news.htm#VS

In browsing the internet recently, I've really enjoyed the InternationalEd.org website. It has so many articles on education in Asia and learning about Asia in American schools. One article that I found while browsing struck my interest because it pertains to Iowa (where I'm from and originally taught) and China. The article is from the Des Moines Register and can be read at: http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060206/NEWS02/602060324/1004
It is titled: "Chinese visitors, Iowans discuss teaching methods:
A group of students from China visited Des Moines schools. The students find big differences in educational methods."

Iowa is still considered one of the best states for education in the U.S. As someone who used to teach there, I can tell you that it was wonderful being a teacher there, too. I can honestly say that 95% of the students in the classes I taught wanted to be there and did well in school. There is also tremendous parental support. On the other hand, Iowan students are pretty isolated from the rest of the country and the world. Since much of Iowa is rural and agricultural (something with which they could relate to many Chinese), students tend to not know much about the outside world. The fact that most students are white with little exposure to other ethnicities and cultures doesn't help much. The Sister States program, mentioned in this article, works to change that. I observed this program firsthand while teaching at a school for the gifted, Central Academy, in Des Moines. It was one of the few schools in the state that offered a Mandarin Language program. As part of the Sister States program, several Chinese students came to Central Academy to take advanced classes and learn about American culture. I had one of these students in my class--Feng Zhang--who won an Intel Science Talent competition and was runner up for a prize known as the "Junior Nobel Prize." He was brilliant, and it was so valuable having him as a student in AP English. The other students looked up to him, and he often shared stories of his education in China and how different education was in the U.S. I remember that he said he enjoyed being able to have more freedom to choose his classes in the U.S., and that he loved class discussions, because in China, he said, they rarely had discussions--only worked on memorizing information. The thing I loved about this program is that it made American students hungry to know more about different cultures. I would like to see more of this in LAUSD.

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Message from tnumark

I agree with you that the pressure is becoming/is quite insane. I can't even remember my schedule when I was in middle/high school but I'm confident that it wasn't filled to the rim with activities, school, work, etc. I think the cheating and the stress comes from the pressure to be perfect. If we teach students that perfect doesn't exist, focus on the best they can do, and teach them that for every action there's a reaction, these strategies may work on students' ideas about cheating and morality.

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Message from jkatoa

As long as it remains so easy,, students who are under so much pressure to do well in test taking will find new and innovative ways to continue to cheat. Teachers need to keep on top of the students and be one step ahead of them in the classroom. Unfortunatly, they always seem one step ahead of me! For every student I catch cheating, there will be two more!

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Message from gjones

This is an old thread, but I will reply anyway. I taught in and around Seoul, South Korea- in An Yang, to be exact- in 1994/95 and I can personally attest to the pressures placed on these students by parents and school officials. Students spend long hours in class- our school day began at 7am and went to 5pm! Imagine trying to sell that idea here in the US- tough sell, to say the least. Couple these long hours with an average of 2-3 hrs of homework per evening, plus the almost-obligatory outside classes in sports, music, or in additional language instruction (primarily English), and you begin to wonder how these kids even have time to be kids. I am all for a rigorous academic environment that imparts practical, successful academic skills in students so that they may compete in today's world, but I often felt sympathy for these students. When do they get to enjoy their youth? Don't say weekends. On Saturday, the school opened at 8 and classes ran until 1pm. Weekends classes in English were also attended by almost every student.

I was amazed at the workload these kids could handle. I was teaching grades 9-10 English, and it was much the same as our traditional English class in the US. Grammar, writing, spelling, literature etc. The curriculum was dense and homework was required every single evening. At one point during our study of English poetry, I asked the students to read three Shakespearean sonnets and be "ready to discuss them upon their return to the class." Well, the students looked at me like I was insane- they kept asking, "What do we write, sir?" It took quite a bit of convincing to get them to understand that I just wanted them to read the poems for their enjoyment. Talk about a foreign concept! Many of them turned up with notes the next day. When I asked them why they did the notes, they invariably replied that their parents did not believe they did not have to do some writing and forced them to. They also called the school and complained that I was not "rigorous" enough. I had to meet with the headmaster and justify my assignment- which, of course, was not easy to do. There is intense pressure on these children.

When the odd student meltdown happened, it was usually quite dramatic. One student of mine- "Kevin"- was lambasted by a Korean math teacher for not answering a problem correctly. That teacher did not know that Kevin's uncle was dying from lung cancer, that his dad was deeply in debt, that his mother drank herself to sleep every night, and that he...well, like any kid, he hit the wall. The teacher pushed him too hard when he called him a Paboya- a fool (also rather common, unfortunately). Kevin was pinned to the floor, the authorities were called, his parents came to the school to be roasted by the headmaster, and Kevin was never seen again. Unfortunately, I witnessed this kind of meltdown more than once. Honestly, I grew to see many of my Korean colleagues as merciless taskmasters; as unimaginative, pedantic drillmasters. The children toiled under this pressure day in and day out, and very seldom did they complain. Yes, they would fall asleep the odd time or begin to look very, very exhausted, but they would show up the next day, ready for more. The pressure from parents was huge, but the peer pressure, I think, was the number one reason they kept at it. To lose face by falling behind was simply not an option that one would entertain.

From 1996-1998, I taught an English Immersion class for the 10th and 11th graders from Fukushima High School at The Infinity International Institute in Sherman Oaks. The students and their teachers would reside in a dormitory setting for sessions lasting three months at a time. They would study their regular curriculums with their teachers and then come to me for additional English classes. What a different experience! I was somewhat hesitant at first, as I had to meet with the Japanese teachers and present my "educational plan". Based on my experience in Korea, I put together something that was pretty standard- reading, writing, grammar etc. Much to my surprise, I was told that they wanted me to emphasize converational English, idiomatic expressions, and to focus on making the experience "fun for students." I almost fell over in shock. I glady complied. Later, Yamazaki-sensei explained to me that the students were getting all of the "heavy stuff" with their Japanese English teachers, and that they wanted the kids to learn "real English" from a foreigner and that they wanted the kids to have fun with this person so as not to be afraid. Wow! It was a great experience and I remained in touch with several students for many years. It seemed to me that the Japanese high school students had a much better time of it.
[Edit by="gjones on Jul 21, 9:37:06 PM"][/Edit]

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Message from lrathman

I saw an interesting interview on CSPAN with a filmmaker who did a documentary comparing students of comparable backgrounds and socio-economic levels in China, India, and the US. This film illustrates many of the issues being discussed on this thread. The documentary is called 2 Million Minutes and it is about how 6 high school students, 2 from each country, spend the last 4 years of their lives leading up to college.
From the clips I saw on the documentary, the film looked very interesting and I thought it brought up a lot of interesting questions about the value different populations put on education. There is a website related to the film and you can buy the DVD if you want from the website. There are also a lot of links to articles and news sites that discuss the film. The website is 2mminutes.com.

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Message from kkung

There is another thread on that particular movie, but my two cents about it again. If you randomly choose two students from each country, how do you decide which two? Do we choose the best and brightest of the US or someone who just moved to the US and hardly speaks English? Are there many immigrant students in India who dont speak the native language like the US? There are so many differences it's hard to compare.

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Message from lrathman

This question was brought up in the interview with the filmmaker. My understanding from the interview was that the filmmaker was very conscientious in choosing students who were comparably similar in social and economic backgrounds in their different countries. It seemed to me to be a fair representation of students from each country, which is why I found it so interesting. Also, I don't think that the goal of the film was to criticize the different education systems, but to highlight the differences in value placed on education by parents and society in general in each of the 3 countries.

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Message from kkung

I'm still skeptical. If we choose someone in a family who earns 20K/yr in the US compared to someone in India, there's going to be a huge difference. 20K is poverty for most families in the US but will provide a decent living in India. Why not choose a middle class white (non hispanic) suburban family from the US? I'm sure overall, they would do quite well compared to an "average" family in India or where ever at a non selective school. As long as the US school does not have many minorities, special education needs, etc.

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Message from lrathman

Just to clarify... Regarding the 2 Million Minutes documentary. I don't mean to keep harping on this, but I feel misunderstood. When I say the students were from 'comparable socio-economic backgrounds' that doesn't mean that they come from families that have the same income in dollar amounts. It means "comparable" in the context that when considering the different economic situations and social standing in each country, the students were similar to eachother so that they could be compared fairly. Also, the students chosen in the US were white (non-hispanic) and from middle or possibly upper middle class families as you suggest they should be. I would also like to say, again, that this film wasn't targeted at the actual school systems, but rather the behaviors of the students and how they spent their time both inside and outside of their regular school days, their attitudes, things of importance to them, work ethic, expectations for the future...It was more of a reflection of our different cultures and values of our different societies, neither good or bad, but thought provoking and a good discussion starter.

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Message from kkung

I understand your point. However, I will always be wary if the selection of schools that do not have a large sample size and were not chosen randomly. Even within the same social economic status schools, there are great variances in US schools. Even the CA schools account for that. I used to teach at a school with over 25% of the students getting free/reduced price lunch and 50% who spoke a language other than English at home. The urban high school had a API of 941! Compare that to a school in India with students with similar backgrounds if that is possible. I wouldnt even know where I would define free and reduced price lunch in India or 70% minority population.

Clay Dube
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Message from Clay Dube

Hi Folks,

Just a quick query. How did the documentary filmmaker come up with the 2 million minutes title?

At 200 days/year,times 4 years, times 360 minutes a day =288,000 minutes

At 240 days/year, 4 years, 420 minutes a day = 403,200 minutes.

If every minute of every day of the four years is included = 2,102,400 minutes.

Catchy title. Rather misleading, especially if one imagines that high school should be examined by itself.

smiling,
clay

Clay Dube
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Topic Posts: 538
Message from Clay Dube

Hi Folks,

The folks at APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum) have gathered together some useful documents on China's efforts to change its k-12 curriculum. The links cover a wide variety of subjects.

http://www.apecknowledgebank.org/knowledgebank/index.cfm?action=dsp_bymember&economy=CN

Clay Dube
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Message from Clay Dube
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Message from ppearson

A few years ago I attended a Math conference where a couple of the presentations were devoted to Singapore Math. The term "Singapore Math" appears to be a commercial term used by a company which imports materials developed by the Singapore government for the teaching of math. The Singapore math program has led to major successes in international comparisons.

At the conference I was most impressed by the presentation of a professor from Florida who described how he had used the methods to train nurses to use correct proportions when mixing medications. I have tried some of the material myself in seventh-grade special ed math to teach about fractions. It does seem to improve understanding.

For those who would like further information, the website is http://www.singaporemath.com/Singapore_Math_Story_s/10.htm.

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Message from hmartinez

This article reminded me of the New England Patriots, an NFL footbal team. They were caught cheating, fines were then issued, and finally it is now a thing of the past. I am amazed at some of the new ways in which students in other parts of the world cheat. However, I am not surprised at the lengths the students will go in order to make the cut. In fact, a friend of mine was just telling me how tests were given to his daughter in order to get into a top kindergarten school. Yes, a kindergarten school. I can imagine that if there was a way to get ahead he would have done it.
www.csmonitor.com[Edit by="hmartinez on Jun 18, 10:24:10 PM"][/Edit]

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Message from nblade

I am interested to learn more about how the education system works in Asia. I know that the Japanese place a high value on education. This seems to be a social norm. I do not, however, know how much value is placed on education in China. A teacher that I went to college with is now teaching economics in China. He is not Chinese but felt that China had a great need and he took his family and moved to China to teach. A bold move to say the least.

Luis Camacho
Topic replies: 21
Topic Posts: 23
China, the largest export country of students by Luis M. Camacho

According with Russell Flannery, Shangai bureau chief of Forbes China, by year 2022 China will be the largest export country of students studingabroad and also, a major destination for global talent to settle down. This is a incredible forecast for the progress of China. Chinese goverment is always planning and projecting the development of their economy based in the education. It is a great example for all other nations, like ours,  that has been increasing their budget in weapons but cutting down the education of their people.

Luis Camacho
Topic replies: 21
Topic Posts: 23
China will play a leading roll in education by Luis M. Camacho

As mentioned by Chen Baoseheng, education minister, speaking at a news conference on the 19th CPC National congress. China will play a leading role in education worldwide, which means that the standards of education in China will become the standards of the world. The education minister estimates that this plan could become a truth by 2049. This is a clear example of how to plan at long term. That is an important discipline for teachers to transmit to students. 

For more information visit:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/special/19cpcnc/index.htm