Understanding the Rise of China

Anyone who read my blog in 2010 would know how a trip to Shanghai opened my eyes to what we have all been reading about over the last few years, the rise of China.

The 2009 PISA results and commentaries seemed to quantify the obvious investment, vision and an absolute respect for the importance of education that I saw in Shanghai.

My reading about China has slowed to a standstill in recent months, unfortunately. However, I am keen again after watching economist Martin Jacques ask and attempt to answer the question: how do we in the West make sense of China and its phenomenal rise in this recent TED talk? Jacques makes some sage points and you really should watch ’til the end, if at all interested in the future.

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4 Comments

  1. Glenda Gregory:

    Very interesting talk and agree that the West’s ignorance and arrogance towards East Asia is disturbing . Despite the PISA results Mr Jiang, the deputy principal of Peking University high school, stated that China’s …’most promising students still must go abroad to develop their managerial drive and creativity, and they have to unlearn the test-centric approach to knowledge that was drilled into them.’ Having said that I was wondering if the team that is developing the mega-bus studied abroad. Love the idea of the mega-bus!
    Mr Jiang’s full comment is titled: The Test Chinese Schools Still Fail, available at
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703766704576008692493038646.html?mod=wsj_share_twitter

  2. Darcy Moore:

    Hi Glenda,

    Thanks for the link to Mr Jiang comments, very interesting indeed.

    I heard several times the same sentiment, from high-ranking educrats in Shanghai, something along the line of ‘we need to produce more creative, very innovative students’. I myself saw very traditional classrooms that had students in straight rows working silently. So, Mr Jiang’s comments do make sense to me. They are striving, like we are, to get it right and there are big question marks.

    However, what I perceived in Shanghai, was massive public focus and investment in education and the highest possible cultural expectation that placed education very much at the centre of life. Jacques briefly touces on the long march of Chinese culture/history and the formation of a civilization which is part of their strength. Shanghai was just so impressive as a city and evidence of a highly function people/system.

    On leaving China, one of my travelling colleagues said, we really do not have a clue, in our country, about the level of cultural commitment, public and personal, that is needed for education to flourish. I am not sure that is true but certainly, it felt very different being in Shanghai and my eyes were opened, very wide. The point made in the video above, that the paradigm has changed, struck me hard. I am still trying to work out exactly what it means, especially when I hear Australia described as, “China’s quarry” or sit on a dirty, late-running train.

  3. I live in Malaysia right now and teach at a local school for students with disabilities. Next year my partner and I are moving to Tanzania to teach, but were also offered a job in Shanghai. With this being our first experience at a capital city international school, we were a little reluctant to start off with a school in Shanghai. During the interview they mentioned to us that 100% of the graduating class go to college, they average in the 97th percentile in math and reading and students coming from the US often have trouble passing the entrance exam. It has broadened my interest in the area of education in China. This past weekend I read an article in Time magazine that was interesting, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2043313,00.html. Being outside of the US for 2 years, I was just introduced to this so called “Tiger Mom” but I guess her and her book have been getting quite a lot of press. The topic of education systems in the US vs. China is definitely something for further research. Thanks for your info.

    • Darcy Moore:

      Hi Rorey,

      Sounds like you are gaining some very interesting experiences teaching. I am in Denmark for a term this year myself.

      Thanks for commenting :O)

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