As a human being, the most basic way to earn a living is through education. This is a fact that has been in existence right from the ancient days. Education is defined differently by different people. However, the goal of most students who undergo education is to lead future that is better and brighter.
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Apart from education being a way through which people can attain a better standard of living, it should also be used to better the societal values. Since the society is ever changing, education is supposed to undergo necessary dynamism and reflect keep in pace with these modern life changes.
Nevertheless, there are numerous schools that are still teaching their learners according to the old way, and this can be observed in the distinction between the western education and the eastern one. The difference is seen in terms of an education that is quality based and that which is exam based. As a China based student, both my elementary and high school education was exam-driven. This is similar to the Paulo Freire’s “Banking Concept of Education”.
What characterizes learning in China and the entire Asia is being able to excel in the many examinations. The only method of examining students is through the use of tests. Their performance is not based on their previous performance but upon passing the tests, they are regarded as having undergone learning. What teachers are concerned about is the fact that the learner has passed the exam. They are not bothered about how the learner got to pass it.
This is the experience that Mike Rose shares by saying that he wants to be average since the teachers who were hardworking in education were a few. As a high school student, I found studying easier. This is because all I needed to do was review my work prior to exams. This made me to pass them quite well. The same applies to a good score of Asian learners who need to review their class work as criterion to excelling in their exams. This method encourages dishonesty among students.
The way teaching is done, all the information is put on the chalkboard and hand outs. It is the students’ responsibility to internalize it. Teachers do everything in the normal classroom learning. For example, all Chemistry practicals are done by the Chemistry teacher. Students are just shown how the practicals are done for ease of remembering but are not allowed to do the practicals on their own. Most students end up remembering the theoretical aspect but not the practical part.
Since I came to the U.S for my college studies, I have come across remarkable differences between the American education and Asian’s. For instance, in the America college, students are not only supposed to work and study on their own, but are also supposed to pay close attention to every question since it may count a lot for the semester’s entire work.
This style of learning compels you to study on your own and work hard without depending on other extra help. As a Chinese student, I did all I could to be conversant to the school rules and yet I could not gain access to the so called best universities in China. One of the known facts about Chinese universities is that it is difficult to join them but very easy to leave.
In China, you can spend your time in the university without doing anything meaningful and still graduate. In the US, it’s the exact opposite. Nevertheless, college is the best stepping stone towards the society and its changes. Whatever is learnt at this level, should not just be for memorizing, but should impart creativity and critical thinking to enable one deal with situations.
There’s also a difference when it comes to disciplinary issues. In China, teachers consider discipline to be more serious than study. Learners are like prisoners since school rules should not be broken. Students are expected to be seated in class immediately after the alarm has rung.
Anyone getting in late is liable for a punishment. The punishment all depends on the teacher’s mood. The teacher might decide to let you go, ask you to stand throughout the lesson or punish you after the class. At other times, the punishment can be in form of running round the school compound.
Once in the class, students are not allowed to visit the rest rooms since doing so is considered as interfering with the progress of the class. While at elementary school, failing in home work and other tests was punitive. A student caught in such a mistake could be asked to copy down the right answer so many times for the purpose of memorizing. Although almost all the punishments were bearable, the worst one was being hit by the teacher. Such cases may not exist as of now, but during my elementary school days, it was real.
Comparison between Eastern learning and the American working class schools
What I went through can be likened to the working class schools described in Anyon’s article. Given the conditions at the national level, there’re a lot of similarities among different schools. The conditions of learning where most students school are similar to those in America’s working class schools. The teachers were always right on what they said and the opportunity to disapprove their theories was inexistent.
Students were not only to memorize everything taught by the teachers, but were also to carefully take the notes during class time. There’s therefore no room for questioning what has been taught since it’s assumed that everything taught by teachers is correct. Students are bound to accept everything under the teachers’ control. This often make me relate this to the two kinds of oppression: adultism and ageism. Teachers force everything on students due to their adult identity.
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At first, education appears to be something exciting but the conditions turn it into something sad and into a passive way of learning. Education should be aimed at helping students develop creativity, imagination and a practical way of doing things. However, exam-oriented type of education denies the students a chance of developing these aspects during their learning process.
On the other hand, western education lays emphasis on the capability of study and aims at nurturing the students’ talents and help them to be of value to the society. It does not only provide them with empty textbook knowledge. According to the dynamics and societal development, the education system should be modified to reflect this reality since this is a better way of empowering people.