"History of Chinese Education, Five Necessities of Chinese Culture"

The Chinese value education as a stepping stone to success, and children - especially only children - are under a lot of pressure to excel in school.


Five Necessities of Chinese Culture








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The educational system in China today is more Socialist-oriented. Chinese classrooms are typically packed with up to 50 students, and learning is often done in groups to emphasize teamwork and cooperation, basic tenets of Socialism. But Chinese schooling is also increasingly competitive, and students sit for entrance exams even at the grade school level. This meritocracy is mingled with economics, and parents work hard to ensure they can afford to send their kids to the best schools once they get accepted.

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The Chinese value education as a stepping stone to success, and children - especially only children - are under a lot of pressure to excel in school. There is also an unspoken code of conformity, and there is a lot of pressure to fit in, for to be singled out is the penultimate in humiliation, causing students to "lose face" in front of their peers. In addition to academics, parents also try and enroll their children in a wide variety of after-school activities to enhance their overall development.

What is strikingly different in China is the motivation for excellence. In the West, it is easy to assume most kids work hard because they want to succeed and maybe become the next Bill Gates someday. In China, the goal is to create productive citizens who can serve society. Thus, a child excels to benefit China, not for his or her personal wealth.

While Confucius has become a rather comical figure in the West, associated with quips like "Confucius says…," this Chinese sage has had a profound impact on the values of Chinese around the world for over 2,000 years. Born Kong Zi (551 B.C. - 479 B.C.), Confucius has been credited with stressing the importance of virtue and natural order in a civil society. This has translated into an emphasis on values like filial piety and respect for authority, which help establish order and subordination in the classroom.

Today, a noticeable departure from Confucianism is the greater equality Chinese parents share. Under a more Confucian system, the mother was expected to be amiable and quiet, and the father was the strict head of the household. Instead, the reality today is both parents usually work, and they want to cultivate a more friendly, supportive relationship with their child. This reflects most parents' attitudes towards discipline as well: rather than a traditional beating or scolding, children are asked to reflect on and internalize the impact of their bad behavior on others.


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