The education system, methods and results

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Re: The education system, methods and results

Postby touduke » 04 May 2012, 22:16

Memorisation is not the enemy. The difference between Chinese and western education will probably be found in etymology. Words related to education in Chinese tend to emphasise 'putting in' and words related to western concepts of education tend to emphasise 'bringing out'. It's not black and white, but there are cultural differences.


bringing out mm
I remember when I started teaching at universities in Taiwan about 10 years ago. I was shocked to see how difficult it is for many students to speak up (when reading something for example). Young women and men literally unable to raise their voice up to a level above whispering. Asking them to speak a little louder makes things worse cause it makes the students uncomfortable and nervous. 22 year old men can't unblock themselves when speaking alone, can't manage to speak loud enough so someone 2 meters away can understand. The body language is terrible. It is depressing.

Another "output problem" is that many students seem unable to answer the most simple question even if they know the answer.
I remember that a lecturer from China sitting in in one of my classes had a conversation with me after class.
"You're a good teacher" she observed, "I think your students like you" (true for the most part) "but you can't just ask them questions! They don't know how to deal with such a situation."
Not all students are the same - but 10 years have past, I changed universities and students, the situation is the same until this very day. My teaching has changed, I leave more and more space for "outer curriculum" stuff like talking about life, family, future and the students interests.
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Re: The education system, methods and results

Postby bismarck » 05 May 2012, 08:30

touduke wrote:
Memorisation is not the enemy. The difference between Chinese and western education will probably be found in etymology. Words related to education in Chinese tend to emphasise 'putting in' and words related to western concepts of education tend to emphasise 'bringing out'. It's not black and white, but there are cultural differences.


bringing out mm
I remember when I started teaching at universities in Taiwan about 10 years ago. I was shocked to see how difficult it is for many students to speak up (when reading something for example). Young women and men literally unable to raise their voice up to a level above whispering. Asking them to speak a little louder makes things worse cause it makes the students uncomfortable and nervous. 22 year old men can't unblock themselves when speaking alone, can't manage to speak loud enough so someone 2 meters away can understand. The body language is terrible. It is depressing.

Another "output problem" is that many students seem unable to answer the most simple question even if they know the answer.
I remember that a lecturer from China sitting in in one of my classes had a conversation with me after class.
"You're a good teacher" she observed, "I think your students like you" (true for the most part) "but you can't just ask them questions! They don't know how to deal with such a situation."
Not all students are the same - but 10 years have past, I changed universities and students, the situation is the same until this very day. My teaching has changed, I leave more and more space for "outer curriculum" stuff like talking about life, family, future and the students interests.

For once, I can totally agree with you. This is a problem from when they enter second grade all the way through uni. In my adult classes I've noticed that the older students and students who have already been in the work force a few years suffer from this less. And I sympathize with your problem at uni, as I imagine the classes are fairly large and you're less able to really connect. I had this problem with one of my fifth grade girls yesterday, but seeing as it's buxiban and I only have 8 students in that class I'm more connected with them and more aware that there may be some issue. I just skipped over her yesterday and after class had a chat with her (in Chinese, to make her more comfortable). Short story is she's at that age and she's having some problems at home. Little more difficult to do this in a large uni class I suspect.

That said, it's not always (and probably mostly not) a personal issue. It can be a variety of reasons from how they're taught at school, fear of making a mistake and all the usual things I'm sure you're aware of. As frustrating as it can be, don't be too hard on them or yourself over this. I have found that some of the methods I've learned from Ben Slavic and his approach to CI/TPRS has been helpful, especially getting them all to chorus yes and no answers and that sort of thing. As long as you're giving quality comprehensible input and they're enjoying your class, mission accomplished!
Have a look at Ben's overview here for some ideas that may be helpful: http://benslavic.com/workshop-handouts.pdf

I would suggest you buy Ben's TPRS in a Year! and especially look at "chorusing". I've found it to be very helpful.
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Re: Years later where is the evidence that keeping foreigners out of Kindergartens has helped students?

Postby fh2000 » 05 May 2012, 10:21

Feiren wrote:
GuyInTaiwan wrote:Feiren: It is the West and the Rest. Where did democracy originate? The scientific method? Other than things discovered or invented independently by many cultures in antiquity, where have the overwhelming majority of scientific/medical inventions and discoveries come from?


I would add law and market capitalism to your list.

But it doesn't really matter where those things came from. They are universal and are now well-known to people in Taiwan. For example, Lee Yuan-tse, the Nobel Prize winner etc.

Taiwan has a vast reserve of human capital despite its bumbling educational system. That may be less obvious to you in the sticks of Taidong (where I would love to live), but it's very clear here in Taipei. Many foreigners know so little about the subjects they edit that they can't really tell that they are dealing with an expert. Then there is the language barrier.

You should also look through Needham's Science and Civilization in China or Simon Winchester's biography of him. Needham shows pretty clearly that for most of human history China dominated technological and scientific inventions in both quantity and quality.


I think we all live in a moment of coincidence in history therefore our view is all biased to our own advantage.

The Moon is flying away from Earth about 3 inches each year. The Sun is 400 times larger than the Moon, and is also 400 times farther away than the Moon. Millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the world, they saw a much bigger moon. Today, you and I see that the Moon and the Sun are near equal size. This is purely a historical coincidence for you and I. Millions of years from now, Earthlings will no longer see our moon.

All throughout the last few thousands of years, China was much stronger nation and had a lot of inventions that changed the world: paper, gun power, etc. I often think that it is just coincidence that you and I happen to live in a time of history that Chinese are in one of the weakest moments of their periods which started when Ching Dynasty began to run the country 300-400 years ago. Will Chinese stay like this, for how long?
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Re: Years later where is the evidence that keeping foreigners out of Kindergartens has helped students?

Postby Feiren » 05 May 2012, 11:13

fh2000 wrote:
All throughout the last few thousands of years, China was much stronger nation and had a lot of inventions that changed the world: paper, gun power, etc. I often think that it is just coincidence that you and I happen to live in a time of history that Chinese are in one of the weakest moments of their periods which started when Ching Dynasty began to run the country 300-400 years ago. Will Chinese stay like this, for how long?


The Qing were hardly a weak period in Chinese history for the first 150 years of their rule: 1644-1800.

During this period, the Qing conquered Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang. Don't forget that the Qing also brought Manchuria with them, which had never been part of 'China'. They also reduced numerous other border states like Nepal and Korea to tribute paying vassals.

The Qing conquered and left modern China with a multiethnic world empire that modern China has been trying to assimilate by force since. It was the zenith of Chinese power, not the nadir.
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Re: The education system, methods and results

Postby tsukinodeynatsu » 05 May 2012, 19:51

I set a 20-sentence story about looking for something (we just read a short story about looking for something, so there's lots of sentence structures and whatnot to steal there!) for my second and third grade anqinban kids the other day.

A few days later, the office lady/helper said 'I think it's too hard for them! They don't even know how to write a story in Chinese yet!' :eek:

I remember being encouraged to write and tell stories starting in kindergarten. Use your imagination, write out what you can; obviously the things had very poor structure but I don't think that was the point of the exercise. It floored me that second graders here can't write a story (and it's not that they haven't learn characters very well yet, because they're doing pretty well from what I can see. They've got more than enough to get by on, they can write all the everyday stuff no problem).
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Re: The education system, methods and results

Postby bumclouds » 06 May 2012, 03:29

touduke wrote:I remember that a lecturer from China sitting in in one of my classes had a conversation with me after class.
"You're a good teacher" she observed, "I think your students like you" (true for the most part) "but you can't just ask them questions! They don't know how to deal with such a situation."


How dare you ask them questions.
Your warning level: [4]
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Re: The education system, methods and results

Postby Petrichor » 06 May 2012, 06:58

tsukinodeynatsu wrote:I set a 20-sentence story about looking for something (we just read a short story about looking for something, so there's lots of sentence structures and whatnot to steal there!) for my second and third grade anqinban kids the other day.

A few days later, the office lady/helper said 'I think it's too hard for them! They don't even know how to write a story in Chinese yet!' :eek:

I remember being encouraged to write and tell stories starting in kindergarten. Use your imagination, write out what you can; obviously the things had very poor structure but I don't think that was the point of the exercise. It floored me that second graders here can't write a story (and it's not that they haven't learn characters very well yet, because they're doing pretty well from what I can see. They've got more than enough to get by on, they can write all the everyday stuff no problem).


I think they spend so much time just learning new characters they don't get time to focus on different forms of writing, either reading or writing them. They learn new characters through reading stories, though, so it isn't as though they're unfamiliar with the form. Maybe writing them comes later on. My son writes 'stories' in the sense that he writes what he's done in his communication book diary. Maybe instead of asking them to make something up, you could ask them to write about something they've done? It might be less challenging for them and more along the lines of something they do in Chinese.
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Re: The education system, methods and results

Postby kelake » 06 May 2012, 08:37

In my experience it’s common for kids to start writing stories in grade one - my daughter certainly has. Both my kids actually started creating stories long before they learned to write using whatever means they had at their disposal. We have had problems, one teacher rejected a story as being too ‘imaginative’ - she wanted something factual I guess - but she left the next year and we haven’t experienced such nonsense since.

Interestingly, most of the problems with Taiwan’s education system are the exact same as what is being discussed in some circles with regards to Canada’s education system. Perhaps Taiwan doesn’t have a monopoly on these problems.
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Re: The education system, methods and results

Postby bismarck » 06 May 2012, 10:56

kelake wrote:Perhaps Taiwan doesn’t have a monopoly on these problems.

Bingo. Just don't Say that too loud here!
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Re: The education system, methods and results

Postby Petrichor » 06 May 2012, 11:11

kelake wrote:In my experience it’s common for kids to start writing stories in grade one - my daughter certainly has. Both my kids actually started creating stories long before they learned to write using whatever means they had at their disposal. We have had problems, one teacher rejected a story as being too ‘imaginative’ - she wanted something factual I guess - but she left the next year and we haven’t experienced such nonsense since.

Interestingly, most of the problems with Taiwan’s education system are the exact same as what is being discussed in some circles with regards to Canada’s education system. Perhaps Taiwan doesn’t have a monopoly on these problems.


I think another part of the problem is that people generalise about Taiwan's education system whereas in fact it can differ quite a lot between one school and the next. In my experience teachers are given quite a lot of freedom about what they teach and when, unlike in the UK where the national curriculum is highly prescriptive, and at some times of the day all the children across the country will be doing roughly the same thing.
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