The five Chinese teachers featured in the BBC program.[Photo/China Daily]
The BBC program Chinese School: Are Our Kids Tough Enough? shows how China and Britain can learn from each other to improve their education systems, according to feedback from viewers, netizens and industry insiders.
In the three-part series, five Chinese teachers educated 50 students for four weeks at Bohunt School in Hampshire, southern England. Learning together in one classroom, the students, of mixed abilities, were put through a Chinese-style education system.
In tests at the end of the period, the students studying with the Chinese method achieved marks approximately 10 percent higher in math and science compared with the rest of their group, who continued to be taught by their regular teachers in the English manner. Many Chinese netizens commented on Sina Weibo that China’s basic education is strong and has improved in recent years.
“Now the Chinese approach to education is not confined to strict and absolute obedience, because teachers also encourage different student’s potential,” said Zhang Qi, a Chinese student who has studied in China and Britain.
“China has been learning from the West through various reforms, and now a majority of its well-funded schools are adopting their ideas,” said Sun Jin, an associate professor of international and comparative education at Beijing Normal University, who is now a visiting scholar in Germany.
While some British viewers said that the Chinese school doubled the time spent in class for only a 10 percent increase in results, many British also said that the discipline and some of the Chinese methods were present in the British education system decades ago.
“That’s not the ‘traditional Chinese method’, it’s the ‘traditional method’, period. It’s how I learned decades ago, and guess what? It worked. ‘Discovery learning’ or whatever you want to call it, hasn’t reinvented the wheel, it’s banned it from the classroom,” one netizen named Alfred Greengrass wrote in an online debate, which won him 1,198 “likes”.
“The UK needs to promote the authority of teachers to make teaching more efficient and better exploit the potential of teachers,” Sun said, adding that China can also learn from the UK.
Kathryn James, deputy general secretary of the British school leaders’ union National Association of Head Teachers, said: “It is always helpful for school leaders to learn from different systems, and the best teachers are continually questioning how best to teach their pupils.”