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Jiang Xueqin: The Test Chinese Schools Still Fail - WSJ.com - 1 views

  • It's ironic that just as the world is appreciating the strengths of China's education system, Chinese are waking up to its weaknesses. These are two sides of the same coin: Chinese schools are very good at preparing their students for standardized tests. For that reason, they fail to prepare them for higher education and the knowledge economy.
  • So China has no problem producing mid-level accountants, computer programmers and technocrats. But what about the entrepreneurs and innovators needed to run a 21st century global economy? China's most promising students still must go abroad to develop their managerial drive and creativity, and there they have to unlearn the test-centric approach to knowledge that was drilled into them.
  • Both multinationals and Chinese companies have the same complaints about China's university graduates: They cannot work independently, lack the social skills to work in a team and are too arrogant to learn new skills. In 2005, the consulting firm McKinsey released a report saying that China's current education system will hinder its economic development.
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  • Even Shanghai educators admit they're merely producing competent mediocrity.
  • This year the Chinese government released a 10-year plan including greater experimentation. China Central Television's main evening news program recently reported on Peking University High School's curricular reforms to promote individuality and diversity.
  • Shanghai's stellar results on PISA are a symptom of the problem. Tests are less relevant to concrete life and work skills than the ability to write a coherent essay, which requires being able to identify a problem, break it down to its constituent parts, analyze it from multiple angles and assemble a solution in a succinct manner to communicate across cultures and time. These "critical thinking" skills are what Chinese students need to learn if they are to become globally competitive.
  • One way we'll know we're succeeding in changing China's schools is when those PISA scores come down.
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