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Inside China Ed – February “Pressure” Edition, 2013 (004)

Scientists recently published astounding research on the way kids handle pressure. Some thrive in the face of pressure to perform on high-stakes tests, while others crumble. In an era when a child’s academic future has never been more dependent upon their test-taking abilities, kids are either warriors or worriers.

[/custom_frame_right] The pressure is definitely mounting for everyone this month. As March marches upon us, study-abroad aspirants anxiously await admissions decisions from the schools they’ve applied to. Meanwhile, high school seniors preparing for China’s national college entrance exams are feeling the heat as the clock counts down on the Gaokao highway to hell. (No gap-year or senioritis for these poor souls.)

Pressure is the theme of this month’s newsletter. In China at least, all roads – or fingers – point back to China’s Gaokao-centered education system.

Keith Bradsher’s Education Revolution series thoroughly documents the social, political and economic pressures exerted by China’s education system. We’ve written about the stress of the Gaokao before, but Mr. Bradsher really goes all out to examine the tough questions.

Questions like “Why do Chinese parents bet it all on their child’s college education ?” “Why is the value of a college degree in decline?” What are the problems of the Chinese education system and why is it going to affect the whole society?” When Mr. Bradsher’s through with you, you’ll understand why any attempt by US education to imitate that of China is, simply, a bad idea.

Pressure also helps answer the question, “What exactly is the relationship between application fraud from China’s study abroad population and China’s education system?” And what’s up with the lock and chain on those library seats? We knew getting a seat in China’s top universities was hard, but who knew you’d have to fight for study spaces too?

While the pot brews on this side of the Pacific, attendees at the Association of International Education Administrator’s annual conference have been worrying too. As universities take on more full-pay students from abroad, they face greater challenges in creating sustained and meaningful cross-cultural interactions between their international and domestic students.

Yet, as one participant points out, schools sometimes “underestimate [the] pressure [to succeed and do well], and apply a different kind of meaning to the experience that we perceive a student is having.”

Indeed, though Chinese high school students still dream of college in the U.S., there is quite a bit ofuncertainty about the value of a foreign degree. After all, what good is a college degree if it won’t get you the jobs you want?


Also Recommended

– Cheating or Not – Why do so many Chinese students have close brushes with plagiarism? Writer Helen Gao looks at the academic honor code – or its lack of – in China.

LINKS (in order of appearance)

– Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart  – Worriers or warriors? How kids handle pressure in the age of high-stakes tests.

– The Gaokao Highway to Hell – Economic Observer journalist Eric Fish blogs about his personal encounter with a suffering Gaokao prisoner.

– Invitation to a Dialogue: Skipping 12th Grade – Doing something more with senior year, in an education system that has college admissions wrapped up by March.

– Education Revolution – A New York Time series on the promises and challenges that China faces as it educates its citizens more broadly.

– Gaokao Begins: What the Annual Exam is Like for Students

– In China, Families Bet It All on College for Their Children – Keith Bradsher’s Education Revolution, Part III.

– Chinese Graduates Say No Thanks to Factory Jobs – Keith Bradsher’s Education Revolution, Part II.

Next Made-in-China Boom: College Graduates – Keith Bradsher’s Education Revolution, Part I.

US Education in Chinese Lockstep? Bad Move  – Why US and Chinese education systems are aiming at what the other is trying to give up, and why it’s a bad idea.

– Why Do You Want to Go Abroad? – Why China’s Gaokao-centered education system is partly responsible for application fraud.

– A Different Kind of Occupy Movement – Students occupy study space with tape & chains, some even offering hundreds of RMB for a seat (translation courtesy of Elliott Bernstein at Education News China).

– Strangers in a Strange Land – The difficulties of encouraging meaningful interactions between American and international students.

– For Chinese Studying in the US, Graduating into an Uncertain Future


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