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2018-02-09 | 分类:文化 | 评论:0人

What’s the difference between Chinese high school and American high school?



Younmin Bae
Updated Jun 29, 2016
I believe I am in a unique position to answer this question since I’ve attended both Chinese and American high schools (I am Korean by the way).
There are many differences between the two, but here are some that I think are most visible.



Curriculum (uniform vs individualized) – students in China all take the same courses (Same math courses, same history courses, etc.) whereas students in America are given a choice of classes they can take (Students can choose to take AP Calculus, music theory, or art). They are given a general criteria they must meet to graduate (4 math credits, 4 history credits, etc.), but other than that it is highly Individualized.


Classroom size – Classroom size is much bigger in China than in America. A typical classroom size in my Chinese high school was about 70, while in my American high school it never reached above 35. This is probably due to the difference in population.


How time is spent – Chinese students spend most of their time studying. In my Chinese high school a school day was divided into three “chunks”: 8 am – 12 pm, 1 pm – 5 pm, 6 pm – 10 pm (the hour between the chunks are spent eating and resting). The first two chunks are class time, but the last chunk (6pm – 10pm) was reserved for zixi, or self-study. You still went to class, but the teacher only supervised and not teach. This is the time for you to do homework, study for test, etc. In my American high school, school ended at 3:20 pm. The rest of the day was reserved for extracurricular activities such as sports, show choir, etc. There were many days I stayed till 10 pm for robotics and band.


Political socialization – Political socialization of students are done quite explicitly in China whereas in America it is done with more subtlety. For example, there was a mandatory class in China called “Morals” which talked about being loyal to the government. On the contrary, in my US Government class the teacher had a poster with the following quote:
“The duty of the patriot is to protect his country from its government.”
Imagine the public outrage here were there a class called “Morals.”





Sthitapragnya Deshpande, worked at China
Updated Jan 24
As a teacher who has taught in USA and China, I can answer this based on my observations –
1) Chinese schools are far more strenuous than American schools. the workload in the former is far more rigorous, work hours are longer, and there is always a sense of competition to do well. In that, I find Chinese schools very similar to schools in India.



2) Discipline – Chinese schools are far more formal. It is expected that the teacher will talk and students will listen. Children are not expected to think for themselves much as the teacher tells them facts. In American schools, there is more enquiry, kids are expected to question teachers and even disagree. How much of this actually translates into kids in American schools actually thinking (let alone thinking different) is an entirely different story!
The advantage is that kids go to school to study and behave far better than their counterparts in America.


3) Violence and guns – Guns in schools in China are naturally literally unheard of. In USA, many schools have guns. Ditto for drugs and violence and teenage pregnancies all of which affect students studies and lives adversely. Chinese schools literally have none of these as kids are too busy trying to study and prepare for the gaokao so that they will secure a “good job”, thence “a good spouse” and thus a “good life”!


4) Infrastructure – Both Chinese and American schools have equivalent excellent infrastructure. I wish I could upload a photo of the primary school next to my house but for some reason Quora in China does not seem to allow this. It is an excellent 5 story building with a large playing ground in front, a rack and 6 basketball courts, and 8 table tennis tables. And this is just a primary school.


5) Funding – Chinese schools are luckier here – the Chinese government has been consistently increasing funding to schools. Hence there are exceptionally few private schools (mostly foreigners send their kids to private schools as the medium of instruction in Chinese schools is mandarin). IN USA, funding of government schools has consistently been cut


6) Access – School education is exceptionally low cost for Chinese students. hence it is rare to find a Chinese boy / girl who has not been to 12 years of schooling. It is far more common to find this in USA sadly
7) Participation of parents – This seems roughly the same in USA and China. Additionally, in China, it is a treat to watch the way crowds are excellently managed when kids leave for the day.



8) Sports – American schools seem to pay more attention to sports vis a vis academics, especially as the kids age compared to Chinese schools. Chinese schools on the other hand are more focused – kids who excel at sports get exceptionally high class sports training (often by ex national and Olympian level Chinese and foreigner coaches) but for the others, it is accepted that the route to a better life passes through academics


9) Parents expectations – This indirectly dictates the reasons behind the above factors. Chinese parents have high expectations from their kid / s (34% of Chinese families have 1 kid, the rest have 2 kids) and expect them to excel in school and academics. American parents generally seem to have a more comparatively laissez faire attitude.
Any generalization is fraught with the danger of making assumptions – and exceptions to the above can occur. However this is the general trend that I have noticed based on my personal interactions with students, teachers and parents in China and USA.



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