Q. and A.: Yong Zhao on Education and Authoritarianism in China

Published on NYT Sinosphere Blog, by DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW, Sept 14, 2014.

Yong Zhao is professor of education, University of Oregon and author of “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World,” being published this week … //

… Following are excerpts from an interview with Mr. Zhao:

Q. You hav said that traditional Chinese education actively “harms” children. How?  

  • A. It basically ignores children’s uniqueness, interests and passion, which results in homogenization. It forces them to spend almost all the time preparing for tests, leaving little time for social and physical activities. It also places them under tremendous stress through intense competition, which can damage their confidence and lowers their self-esteem.

Q. Recently there has been a lot of attention, even envy, from Western nations regarding the Chinese education system, after Shanghai came first in PISA. Yet Chinese parents, educators and children say their system is failing. What’s going on?

  • A. Precisely the message of my book. It is best in test scores, but test scores are far from meaningful educational outcomes. In fact, excessive focus on test scores hinders a real education, which is more about helping each and every child grow rather than forcing them to achieve high test scores. In other words, PISA and other tests measure something very different from the quality of education Chinese parents, educators and children desire.

Q. You write, “If the United States and the rest of the West are concerned about being overtaken by China, the best solution is to avoid becoming China.” Is the United States becoming like China in education? How?

  • A. The U.S. has certainly become more like China in recent years. The No Child Left Behind Act has increased the stakes and usage of standardized testing. President Obama’s Race to the Top and other initiatives continue to push testing into schools and classrooms by associating test scores with teacher evaluation. The Common Core State Standards Initiative has been pushed to many states, creating de facto national standards in math and English language arts. So American education today has become more centralized, standardized and test-driven, with an increasingly narrow educational experience, which characterizes Chinese education.

Q. Will this damage America? … //

… Q. You write that “Chinese education is the complete opposite of what we need for the new era.” What do we need?

A. The education we need is actually quite simply “follow the child.” We need an education that enhances individual strengths, follows children’s passions and fosters their social-emotional development. We do not need an authoritarian education that aims to fix children’s deficits according to externally prescribed standards. I wrote about this in my last book,

(full interview text).

education for the future – Related Links

  • Interview with ‘You are not shit pupils’ Pierre Pirard, on TEDxGhent, by Stephen Lawson, Dec 6, 2013;
  • Women in a dangerous world: No place for your daughters – counting the victims, on The Economist, Nov 24, 2005: … Women between the ages of 15 and 44 are more likely to be maimed or die from violence inflicted one way or another by their menfolk than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war combined. Poor health care means that 600,000 women are lost each year to childbirth (a toll roughly equal annually to that of the Rwandan genocide). The World Health Organisation estimates that 6,000 girls a day (more than 2m a year), mostly in the poor world, undergo genital mutilation. Other WHO figures suggest that, around the world, one woman in five is likely to be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime …;

Find on YouTube:

on wikipedia in different languages:

  • Philosophy for Children on en.wikipedia, sometimes abbreviated to P4C, is a movement that aims to teach reasoning and argumentative skills to children. There are also related methods sometimes called “Philosophy for Young People” or “Philosophy for Kids”. Often the hope is that this will be a key influential move towards a more democratic form of democracy.[1] However, there is also a long tradition within higher education of developing alternative methods for teaching philosophy both in schools and colleges (see philosophy education) …; /Method; The pedagogy of philosophy for children is diverse. However, many practitioners including those working in the tradition of Matthew Lipman and the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children emphasize the use of a community of enquiry method which has roots in the work of philosopher John Dewey.[4] The term “enquiry” is preferred to “lesson” because the emphasis is on the group enquiring together into questions with the teacher as a facilitator rather than the authoritative source of information /Notable proponents and their styles; /Programs, competitions, and publications; /See also; /(many) External Links;
  • Philosophie pour les enfants on fr.wikipedia, est une pratique éducative qui cherche à développer la pensée réflexive, créatrice et critique chez les enfants de tout âge à partir de discussions démocratiques et de manuels narratifs dans le cadre pédagogique d’une communauté de recherche philosophique. Créée initialement par Matthew Lipman, elle connaît un développement mondial. Elle constitue aujourd’hui un courant à part entière, à la croisée des sciences de l’éducation, de la philosophie et de la pédagogie …; /Liens externes;
  • Philosophieren mit Kindern auf de.wikipedia, ist das Unterrichten von argumentativen und allgemeinen kognitiven Fähigkeiten von Kindern und ist unter anderem Gegenstand der Didaktik der Philosophie. Es bezeichnet auch eine entsprechende Bewegung, die in den 1970er Jahren in den USA begann.[1] Die gleiche Bezeichnung verwendet das Bundesland Mecklenburg-Vorpommern für das Schulfach, das als Ersatzfach für Religion von der ersten bis zur zehnten Klasse unterrichtet wird.[2] Philosophieren mit Kindern ist außerdem eine psychologische Methode, um Aufschluss über den kognitiven und moralischen Entwicklungsstand von Kindern oder Jugendlichen zu erhalten. Als Begründer dieser Methode ist Jean Piaget zu nennen, der mit Kindern aller Altersstufen “klinische Interviews” durchführte …;

Matthiew Lipman:

Other Links:

National NGOs excluded from funding, on IRINnews, Sept 15, 2014 – FULL report.

on Russia Today RT, Sept 15, 2014:

Treasure Map: The NSA Breach of Telekom and Other German Firms, on Spiegel Online International, by Andy Müller-Maguhn, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Michael Sontheimer and Christian Grothoff, Sept 14, 2014: According to top-secret documents from the NSA and the British agency GCHQ, the intelligence agencies are seeking to map the entire Internet, including end-user devices. In pursuing that goal, they have broken into networks belonging to Deutsche Telekom …;

Nearly 1,000 Frenchmen join jihad, dozens of women and kids ’stopped en route, on Russia Today RT, Sept 14, 2014;

Oh sure, France and Italy and Spain really should embrace the USA model, on RWER Blog, Sept 14, 2014;

… and this:

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