There has been unending anticipation and search for enhanced education in the recent days with learners traversing nations for the same reason (Benavot, 2012).
The United States continues to report a persistent influx of new elementary and high institution learners from other nations, with the Asian students comprising the majority of these students.
However, there is little documented information on whether these learners finally acquire their dreams when learning in foreign countries (Ang et al. 2007).
Lately, an increasing number of Chinese international students are traversing the United States in a frantic search for education.
Surprisingly, according to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the United States still ranks much lower than many of the Asian states, including China (Fleischman et al., 2010). The difficulty thus is to explain why the parents opt for the American education.
Is it merely the notion of the American dream and is it possible to integrate the two educational systems to develop a perfect educational system? Hence, this study explores the dilemma of Asians seeking education in the United States.
The rapid globalization of China, among other potential Asian economies in previous years, is finally portraying significant repercussions that were never eminent before.
Belatedly in the 1970s, the Chinese government aggressively engaged in modernizing China through signing intercontinental scholarly and technological exchanges with the United States (McMurtrie, 2012).
The inception of this policy subsequently enhanced Chinese-US educational exchange, with statistics indicating that the number of Chinese learners entering the United States soared after the sealing of the agreements in 1978. Increasing from almost zero in a decade, the number of mainland Chinese students in 1988 was roughly 20,030 (Bacon, 2013).
By the year 1993, these figures had doubled and rapidly tripled by 2003, thus making a vast population of the Chinese international students in the United States.
Each successive decade has been witnessing a massive proliferation of new buoyant Chinese students seeking advanced educational experiences in the American elementary schools, tertiary colleges, and even universities (Bixia, 2003).
It was until recently that the consequences of seeking the American education are becoming renowned.
Among other relevant matters, two critical issues are becoming significant reasons for the Asians’ contempt and stalemate against the American educational system.
According to Wang (2000), the competence of the American education ranks relatively lower as compared to some of the major Asian states, as demonstrated by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
On a combined international reading literacy scale of a 2009 study conducted by Fleischman et al. (2010), the United States scored relatively lower than many Asian countries.
Asian learners have had a history of mixed educational performances, though reports indicate comparatively high rates of low achievements of Asian learners studying in the United States.
Studies examining English proficiently, mathematical, and science performance of learners in the United States have indicated that low-performers in these significant subjects are students from the Asian counties, something which increases the Asians’ scorn over the American educational system (Shiel & Eivers, 2009).
Coupled with problems associated with linguistic fluency, the Asian learners in the American educational system are undergoing constant worry in their educational success in the US.
Definition of terms
The study used some major terminologies that heightened understanding of the topic under discussion and the paradox involved.
Chinese International students- these are Chinese students that are undertaking their studies abroad, especially those in America as per the intention of the discussion of this paper.
PISA- refers to the Program for International Student Assessment, which is a program that appeared in 2000, with a primary intent of measuring the performance of 15-year-old students in English reading literacy, Mathematics literacy and even science literacy for the 3-year-olds.
In examining the difficulty involved in the Chinese students studying in America, the study wanted to investigate several questions in the context of the established problem.
Question 1: What are the Chinese learners looking for in the American Education?
Question 2: why do the Chinese parents keep sending their children to the US for the American education? Is it merely the American dream, or is there another reason?
Question 3: Is it possible to integrate the two educational methods to form a perfect education system?
Data & data sources for the study
In obtaining a comprehensive coverage of the topic and the relevant issues established in this study, it was essential to distinguish the reliable sources of data that would assist in the argumentation.
The study obtained secondary research information from scholarly published materials including journals, books, magazines, report documents from renowned websites, and other reliable web materials solely for the discussion of the raised issue.
In gathering primary research data, the study relied on firsthand information sources that included undertaking research interviews that entailed using personal interviews with the Chinese International students.
In comprehending the facts established in the problem, the study used self-administered questionnaires to collect data from experienced Asian learners who opted to seek the American education.
In these questionnaires, it was imperative to investigate the essential variables as the demographic characteristics of the participants, their reasons for studying abroad, their initial expectations and the final verdict after education attainment, and their future ambitions after going through the American education.
Literature review and Findings
Why the Asian parents opt for the American education
The question as to why Asian parents send their children to the United States to acquire knowledge remains a constant dilemma among policymakers in China (Benavot, 2012).
Several reasons on why the Asian learners crave the American education have emerged since this debate started augmenting (Shiel & Eivers, 2009).
No one can easily refute that the Chinese have remained bound to the notion that education is an essential cultural, innovation, economic, and social mover among these nationals.
As Ang et al. (2007) note, “the child’s school success is a prime goal of parenting; also, Chinese parents place great emphasis on filial piety, which is the primary guiding principle of socialization practices” (p.74).
According to Wang (2000), their quest for modernization, the stirring wave of bright American panorama among Chinese, their cultural norms and traditional customs that seek continuous education and innovation, and China’s political affection with western civilization can be fundamental issues that fuel the search for enhanced American education.
Chinese culture and educational excellence
Culture and traditional customs are as sticky notions entrenched among the Chinese nationals with these conformist influences becoming evident even in the educational paradigm (Lemke et al., 2001).
The Chinese culture that reckons academic excellence among their youths has become a standard worldwide renowned Chinese custom.
In this tradition, the Chinese place knowledgeable scholars in the entire social order and families with premier academic achievement receive great honor (Lemke et al., 2001).
Being profoundly rooted in the Chinese tradition, the Chinese consider academic excellence as the background of a better future for job prospects.
From the respondents’ view among the seven participants involved in this study, approximately 5 (71%) of the students indicated that they had high academic expectations that are integral for a better future.
Their expectations included getting higher grades and completing their education in top American colleges and higher institutions, which Chinese deem as advanced ones.
High academic excellence, according to these learners, depicted high professional achievements as they cited engineering and doctoral careers as their most ambitious professions.
Curriculum assumptions among learners
Many educational hopefuls from the Chinese side approaching the United States for educational excellence have a strong perception that the curriculums of the two educational systems are entirely analogous (McMurtrie, 2012).
However, reports indicate that youngsters who had already gone through the American educational system have reported considerably low professional achievements in China.
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) rarely considers curriculum competence; what matters is professional expertise.
Fleischman et al. (2010) posit, “PISA does not focus explicitly on curricular outcomes, but rather on the application of knowledge to problems in a real-life context” (p. 4). Unfortunately, most Chinese international students have a notion that these two curricula are similar (Shiel & Eivers, 2009).
Based on the majority of the participants involved in the interviews, it is clear that these hopefuls have a little understanding on the differences between the American education system and the Chinese curriculum because four of the young students indicated that they would wish to continue with their education to college levels.
Parental influence on students
Sizeable extant research indicates that there is great Chinese parental influence on the students’ quest to achieve educational excellence in the American institutions (Shiel & Eivers, 2009).
There are considerably high parental expectations and constant communal pressure for academic excellence, which urges parents to send their children to the United States to receive the perceived advanced education.
Moreover, as Wang (2000) notes, the majorities of Asian parents possess low education, and thus, they have little awareness of the curriculum disparities between the two nations.
On the interview undertaken on the seven students who engaged in the study, all the learners (100%) indicated that their abroad education was self-funded meaning that their parents catered for their education.
Financially stable parents are the most unwavering in supporting their children to study abroad as 7/7 (100%) of the students indicated that they lived in urban environs.
3/7 (42%) said that their parents’ salary range was $100,000-$150000 and very few said it was below this range, thus indicating that they had potential parents.
Why the American education is not ideal for Asians
The American education has received considerable attention over the years with proponents citing it as the most competent form of education, despite it not being in the zenith of the best world educational systems (Bixia, 2003).
Fuelled by its modernization motive, China engaged in the educational exchange with the United States principally to use the western technological expertise in its transformation agendas, but it remains a quandary whether it has proved successful to the later (Yan & Berliner, 2009).
Surprisingly, the professional ambitions and occupational destinies of the Chinese youngsters receiving education usually change dramatically when still undertaking their studies in the United States, thus making it uneasy for China to achieve its initial vision (Yan & Berliner, 2009).
Based on the interviews on the seven participants, the majority indicated that they would wish to perform well academically and get job opportunities in the US, while some were ambivalent whether to remain in the country or go back to China for their professional destinies.
This aspect finally raises the question of whether the Chinese government dreams of ripping American technological expertise would ever come true in this view.
Prejudice and social alienation
While many Chinese have educational motives that make them excited to venture into the mysterious fortunes in the US, Chinese international students experience most challenges in settling in the US and adapting to the educational system as well (Benavot, 2012).
Chinese nationals have had a long history of endless discrimination coming from the Native Americans since the epoch of immigration into the US.
Whether a native Chinese-American immigrant or merely a Chinese student is learning in the US, the historical injustices have been an essential issue among them.
Racial discrimination in the US places the ethnic minority groups at risks of facing problems in learning and even employment institutions, so long as they are not Native Americans (Benavot, 2012).
Coming from a country that seems culturally, linguistically, politically, and socially different into a state differs from others and thus, it proves challenging for the Chinese educational optimists.
Historical prejudices, current political attritions, different social and cultural order, and linguistic barriers are major contributors to racial discrimination among the minority Chinese learners.
Low academic achievement
A sudden twist in the academic expectations of the Chinese international students occurs almost immediately during their initial introduction to the American educational system (Ang et al., 2007).
Repeatedly, some researches have indicated that Chinese American students have recorded low academic achievements in several American elementary and tertiary institutions, thus raising the question of whether these teenagers finally accomplish their dreams through the American educational system (Ang et al., 2007).
From the interviews untaken on the seven participants, students at first would unswervingly state that they would wish to perform well academically, realize their disregarded talents in China, and finally attain better professional ambitions.
Unexpectedly, the educational systems differ distinctively and this aspect presents significant learning challenges to the Chinese learners. One of the participants noted that the schoolwork in the US is more challenging than students think before flying abroad to study.
Students are initially ambitious to train in enhancing critical and creative skills, develop other talents that are unvalued in China, but finally, education itself proves challenging, thus making the learners confused about their goals.
Stress and pressure among Chinese learners
Prior research indicates that learners from the third world countries and eastern parts of the world tend to experience anxiety while struggling to adjust to the American economic and academic life within the institutions (Ang et al., 2007).
The most stressful experiences are when the education system becomes a significant challenge to learners, thus giving them hardships in coping with the learning situations.
Although learning has been a challenging experience for students, the environment should provide some conduciveness for the learners to study comfortably (Ang et al., 2007).
Strained by background educational expectations to pursue academically and individual ambitions to attain high academic performances, this unswerving urge puts Chinese international students in problems while in the US.
Culture and education differences between the two nations coupled with linguistic deficiencies contribute to their educational stress and hence, possibilities of high performances remain relatively low (Bacon, 2013).
Further, many learners interviewed in this study are of junior and sophomore class, which indicates that they started their American education too late after having done something in China.
Reasons why Chinese should continue studying in the US
It sounds already excessively belated when almost every Chinese is considering the American education very imperative. From the study, it is clear that some learners have a mindset of settling in the US after completing their studies with brilliant professional ambitions (Wang, 2000).
Despite their little age, approximately 2/7 (28%) of these few participants already have an idea of the troubled Chinese atmosphere as they indicate that China has a polluted environment.
The current political stalemate between China and the US may finally get a resolution from the present cooperation in the educational swap (Shiel & Eivers, 2009).
In a bid to keep the relations ongoing, sharing educational experiences between the two nations would greatly assist these countries acquire solutions in the trouble political situations between the two partners (Shiel & Eivers, 2009).
American educated Chinese learners seem to have found permanent settlements in the United States as differences in the cultural customs are becoming forgone issues.
Despite the hardships, many Chinese-American educational elites have already found professional positions in the US and cultural differences are becoming rare.
Many Chinese students and scientists are already working in several American laboratories with some ease and little prejudice. Wang (2000) holds that Chinese learners have already occupied important American professional positions.
There is no space in China and it would prove wiser to assist learners in venturing in international opportunities rather than confining to the notion of the homestretch, with no solution to the millions of unemployed youth in China (Bixia, 2003).
Despite reporting challenging working and learning environments in the US, Chinese learners may face even more challenges in trying to cope in their national employment system following the curriculum disparities in the learning practices between the US and China.
For those lucky to have chances in the US, technological expertise is all about work competence and it may prove useless to embark to China straight away without the desired skill, which is mostly achievable through working experiences (McMurtrie, 2012).
Moreover, China is already scaling high technological innovations and no evidence indicates that the spirit of such revolution and modernization is coming from the Chinese-American educational elites.
Integrating the two educational systems
Scorning change is like hiding from contemporary realities and it is high time the two nations understood the challenges facing one of the partners and find probable solutions (Wang, 2000).
One would wonder why major occupations around the world are similar allover, but disparities in curricula persist.
Linguistic fluency, especially in the domineering American and British English, is becoming one of the major components that influence learning and professional development among nationals of different states (Wang, 2000).
From the interviews, some 14-17 years junior students stated that their principal aim of venturing into the American education was to enhance critical thinking, creativity skills, and more importantly, English skills, which was a major concern.
This realization means the Chinese curriculum is lagging in developing English reading, speaking, and writing skills, although PISA studies reveal miscellaneous findings.
Amalgamating the two educational systems will reduce the chances of stressful learning experiences among Chinese students, improve the dwindling rapport between the two nations, and enhance inter-professional experiences amongst them.
Whether China and other Asian countries managed to benefit from western technological expertise through educational swap remains a pertinent question in many types of research.
Learners strive to study notwithstanding the educational challenges and acquire employment in the United States. It remains a startling experience full of a difficulty to understand why only Chinese sought to acquire the American education and Americans remain reluctant to study in China.
After all the efforts made to acquire American education propelled by cultural expectations, government’s revolution demands, family academic pressures, Chinese lack of knowledge on the curriculum disparities, and linguistic deficiencies, cultural differences put them at stressful learning experiences in the US.
Chinese international scholars perform dismally, but they stick to their conformist ideology of obtaining American education. From the interviews undertaken, the majority of the students have ambitions to commence their learning and even acquire employment in the US.
Industrial pressure, employment insufficiency, and the contaminated environment will continue pushing Chinese learners and their professional dreams further from China.
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