1. Zhao says, “China cannot have a Steve Jobs”, and he goes on to explain why. What drastic changes would China need to make in their educational system so that an entrepreneur like Steve Jobs could survive and start a company like Apple? Could the 826 Valencia program work in China? Explain.
For China, high test scores has been a staple. Zhao (2012) states the Chinese have a “laser focus on education, but education here is defined as the pursuit of academics or whatever the government counts as important” (p122). The students work on preparing for their college entrance exams early, sometimes before the age of 4. In fact, Chinese parents sometimes spend upwards of 80 million dollars to educate their children from the ages of 0 to 3 (p123). The focus of achievement for the sake of achievement is what China has been about for many years. The paradox that Zhao brings to light is that while America is trying to raise test scores and compete with top ranking countries, China is actually trying to be more like America. China must make changes to their educational system in order to create more entrepreneurial opportunities for their students. Zhao cites in chapter 4 Achievement Gap vs. Entrepreneurship Gap, that high test scores on the PISA show a negative correlation to entrepreneurial qualities as well as a negative correlation between TMSS scores and confidence (p109, 113). Where there are higher test scores and achievement there appears to be less entrepreneurial achievement. While China has the test scores, they do not have students who believe in themselves, who seek their own opportunities, or who have the confidence to make something of themselves. This is why Zaho says the China cannot have a Steve Jobs.
Essentially China has taken all of the creativity, fun, and passion out of learning and made it a required, mandated, “job” for students until they reach college. Test scores are not everything. Many things would need to change in their educational system to bring the entrepreneurial spirit to China. First, is the time that is focused on school in China. The schools typically have an extremely long school day, sometimes from 8 till 4. With added homework, you can understand that there would be very little time for students, a five year old, a 10 year old, or even a 16 year old, to do anything besides school work. Zhao also states that the students in China go to school about 41 days longer than in America (p 120), and still taking classes on weekends, holidays, or school breaks (p 125). The school is taking up too much of free time for students. Without free time, when can they work on their passions and pursue what they are interested in? China actually needs LESS class time. The Washington Post recently published an article about the 10 new and surprising school reform rules. Valarie Strauss states that the China government has stated that homework is a big no-no for students grades 1-3, and even 4th and up can only be one hour in length (2013). China would also need a decrease in the focus on testing and test scores, and more focus on creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking. Strauss reports that the Ministry of Education in China has lessened the amount of testing that students must undergo, and will not let “student test scores and rankings..,be published as part of school quality evaluation” (2013). China needs to push the evaluate their students and assess them without testing them. There is a great difference between assessment and testing. Anothy Nitko and Susan Brookhart write in their book titled Educational Assessment of Students (2011) that “assessment is a broader term than test or measurement because not all types of assessments yield measurements” (p6). China education should move from focus on just a test score, just a number, to evaluating their students and valuing the worth of their products and performances. Nitko and Brookhart also state that “assessment is a process for obtaining information and for making particular educational decisions” (p3). China needs to focus on the individual needs of the students, focusing on their strengths, their abilities, and their talents and passions. Formal education cannot be thrown out the window, students must learn basics, however it needs to be balanced with basic common content and individualized learning. When you work towards creating individual learning, then students feel as though they are important, valued, and have worth. This is where the entrepreneurial mindset will come from, believing in students and having them believe in themselves. Rather than the Chinese educational system continuing to push all students in the same direction, they need to push them as far as they can go into the directions the chose to go.
Could a school such as the 826 Valencia work in China? It is a possibility. As Dave Eggers says in his TedTalk, “it’s been proven that with 1-on-1 attention, , a student can get one grade level higher.” He also talks about how the environment of the pirate store allowed there to be no “stigma.” In China, students need a place that can be fun and learning combined. With the opportunity to work with adults 1-on-1 and use their exceptional academic abilities, there is no doubt that students would build their confidence and their abilities. After working at 826 Valencia, students get to “go home, enjoy their family, enjoy another hobby, get outside, and play.” That is the biggest deficit facing the students of China. They need more fun, more play, more time to just be creative.
2. Zhao says, “The US economy is three times as large as the second largest economy in the world, China which has four times the population…the United States is still viewed as the hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship…American education operates under the same paradigm as the Chinese education system.” So what are differences in the two countries’ school systems? Don’t forget to use sources other than Zhao to support your response.
Below is a basic t-chart that I created to compare the United States educational system and the Chinese educational system.
Brookhart, S & A. Nitko. (2011). Educational assessment of students. Pearson education: Boston, MA
Eggers, D. (2008). [Video]. My wish: Once upon a school. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from: http://www.ted.com/talks/dave_eggers_makes_his_ted_prize_wish_once_upon_a_school/
Shu, S. (2013). The chinese education system vs the american education system. February 20, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from: http://www.millsthunderbolt.org/2013/02/opinions/the-chinese-education-system-vs-the-american-education-system/
Strauss, V. (2013). China’s 10 new and surprising school reform rules. October 30, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/30/chinas-10-new-school-reform-rules-reduce-standardized-testing-homework/
Van Shaack, T. (2014). Comparing U.S.and Chinese public school systems. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from: http://sitemaker.umich.edu/vanschaack.356/strenghts_and_weaknesses_of_both_systems
Zhao, Y. (2012). World class leaners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.