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Chinese teachers in British classrooms spark global debate on education styles

Pub Date: 15-08-07 08:48 Source: www.chinadaily.com.cn


Chinese teachers in British classrooms spark global debate on education styles

The first episode of BBC documentary series Are Our Kids Tough Enough ? Chinese School made its debut on Tuesday.[A screenshot from BBC website]


The first episode of BBC documentary series Are Our Kids Tough Enough ? Chinese School made its debut on Tuesday, and soon became one of the top topics on social networks in both China and Britain, with many education specialists commenting and retweeting.

In the documentary, five Chinese teachers took over a British classroom with 50 teenagers aged 13 and 14 in Bohunt School in Hampshire for one month, and taught them in a typical Chinese way: no talking, no questions, wearing a special uniform and experiencing the harsh classroom discipline within an extended school-hour from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Students in the experimental program had to do morning exercises, took compulsory physical education of long-distance running, and were also required to do eye exercises during breaks. Some of the students were caught on camera in tears — as was one of the teachers.

At end of this episode, most of the teens found it difficult to adapt to the Chinese methodologies. Some of them even described their Chinese teachers as "rude" and "unreasonable". Their teachers were not prepared for the stark differences between Chinese and British students as well. One of the teachers couldn't help but complain that the classroom was always "chaotic" to the head teacher of the school.

Many Chinese netizens, especially the post-1980 netizens, said that the documentary reminded them of past school-days. Meanwhile, they criticized the British students as "unmannerly" and "lack of respect to others" after watching the documentary.

Chu_hsi, a weibo.com user, said: "I agree that Chinese classroom discipline is too strict, to some degree. But a free style classroom means that students can discuss academic issues in better atmosphere, not eating, putting on make-up or doing whatever you like. The British students lack the most basic politeness. This is the issue of upbringing."

His comment won more than 2, 000 praises in weibo.com in a short time. Meanwhile, lots of British netizens had the same feelings. On Twitter, Jo Boyne's comment "I hope the parents of some of these children are horrified to see how ill behaved and disrespectful their kids are" got much approval as well.


Chinese teachers in British classrooms spark global debate on education styles

Li Aiyun, the mathematics teacher in the program, gives a lesson to his British students. [A screenshot from the BBC documentary series]


However, in the latest interview with Chinese media, Li Aiyun, the mathematics teacher in the program from Nanjing Foreign Language School, said that his British students were nice children with good manners.

"In the first episode, students look lax and absent-minded sometimes. To me, this is understandable. Normally, there are less than 20 students in a British classroom. Now they have 50 students. What's more, they have to stay at school for 12 hours each day, even longer than the school-time in Nanjing Foreign Language School. They are not accustomed to it for sure," he said.

Compared with British students, Li stressed that Chinese students usually study harder and have a clearer goal due to their parents' demands and their own planning. But British students have their own characteristics.

"British teens always say 'make the world different'. They care less about good marks or low marks, but pay attention to extracurricular activities. They have very good coping capacity and hands-on skills. In addition, they are mostly good at making speeches," he added.

Furthermore, Li pointed out that China's tough education system produces strong results in subjects like math and science, capturing the interest of educators in the U.S. and Europe where some feel the child-centered approach does not do enough to teach the basics.

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Editor: Will

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