One by one, a series of students at this medium-size public school raised their hands. When Ms. Li called on them, they each stood politely by their desks and usually answered correctly. They returned to their seats only when she told them to sit down.
Successful or not in China, this is not the kind of classroom I want to have, and this is not what our kids want. This doesn’t sound like fun for the teacher or students. Sure, discipline problems aren’t fun either… but this is just too boring to think about. If I wanted a boring job, I wouldn’t be going back to school to be a teacher - I’d just stay with what I’ve got.
The Shanghai students performed well, experts say, for the same reason students from other parts of Asia — including South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong — do: Their education systems are steeped in discipline, rote learning and obsessive test preparation.
Public school students in Shanghai often remain at school until 4 p.m., watch very little television and are restricted by Chinese law from working before the age of 16.
In an interview, Mr. Jiang said Chinese schools emphasized testing too much, and produced students who lacked curiosity and the ability to think critically or independently.
“It creates very narrow-minded students,” he said. “But what China needs now is entrepreneurs and innovators.”
This is a common complaint in China. Educators say an emphasis on standardized tests is partly to blame for the shortage of innovative start-ups in China. And executives at global companies operating here say they have difficulty finding middle managers who can think creatively and solve problems.