The U.S. shouldn’t try to “catch up” with China, argues Yong Zhao in Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World.
China’s test-obsessed, authoritarian schools aren’t a model, says Zhao, who was raised in China and is now a University of Oregon education professor.
Shanghai students ranked at the top in the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, test twice in a row.
But the Chinese system “ignores children’s uniqueness, interests and passion, which results in homogenization,” Zhao tells the New York Times. “It forces them to spend almost all the time preparing for tests, leaving little time for social and physical activities.”
U.S. schools are following China’s example by becoming “more centralized, standardized and test-driven,” says Zhao.
Finnish schools “let down” two-thirds of students, according to Maarit Korhonen, a primary teacher. Those who aren’t academically minded and don’t do well on exams are “thrown away,” writes Korhonen in Herää, Koulu! (Wake Up, School!) There’s little to challenge the talented, she adds.
Finland’s top PISA scores have led to complacency, charges Korhonen.