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Chinese vs US education system

China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-04 10:11

The argument that the Chinese education system places too much emphasis on memory may be true and I can see why.

I spent the first 15 years of my life in China and had the opportunity to wrestle with Chinese characters and knew several hundred of them but I could hardly say I could read Chinese.

After that I attended schools in the United States, and from 1940 to 1980, I had no contact with China and very little opportunity to use my Chinese. When I returned to China, I found I could speak Chinese and be understood but I could recognize only a few Chinese characters. That's when I realized the important role rote learning plays in Chinese people's lives.

Watching my Chinese family push my grandchildren to study hard, I believe the Chinese middle class, which makes up a much higher proportion of the total than ever before, has realized that education is the only way to improve one's standard of living. Of my three Chinese grandchildren, two are college graduates. But the third, who is just 11 years old, is the smartest.

I cannot criticize the Chinese education system because after teaching Chinese students for more than 30 years, I know they are smart and hardworking. Perhaps their only drawback is that their technical English is not what it should be.

J.M. Trimmer, on China Daily blog

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