Educational Systems

mathboyAs a former student in America, China and Taiwan"Taiwan" is also commonly used to refer to the area under the jurisdiction of the Republic of China (ROC) government, not to be confused with the People's Republic of China government. Following World War II, the ROC gained control of Taiwan from the Japanese in 1945, but lost control of mainland China to the Chinese Communist Party four years later in 1949 as a result of the Chinese Civil War. The Kuomintang (KMT) government then retreated to the island and moved the capital to Taipei. While the People's Republic of China (PRC) claims Taiwan as its province, the PRC has never controlled Taiwan. The main island of Taiwan, also known as Formosa (from Portuguese (Ilha) Formosa, meaning "beautiful (island)"), is located in East Asia off the coast of China, southwest of the main islands of Japan but directly west of the end of Japan's Ryukyu Islands, and north-northwest of the Philippines. It is bound to the east by the Pacific Ocean, to the south by the South China Sea and the Luzon Strait, to the west by the Taiwan Strait and to the north by the East China Sea. The island is 394 kilometers (245 miles) long and 144 kilometers (89 miles) wide and consists of steep mountains covered by tropical and subtropical vegetation. Though for decades following the Chinese Civil War, the ROC was politically a single-party authoritarian state, the ROC has since evolved into a democracy in Asia. Its rapid economic growth in the decades after World War II and the government's relocation to Taiwan has brought it to an advanced economy status as one of the Four Asian Tigers. This economic rise is known as the Taiwan Miracle. It is categorized as an advanced economy by the IMF and high-income economy by the world bank. Its technology industry plays a key role in the global economy. Taiwanese companies manufacture a giant portion of the world's consumer electronics., I have been asked many times what my opinions are concerning their educational systems. There have been a few discussions comparing the American, Chinese and Taiwanese educational systems in the Forums.


Today, it appears that the educational system in the US is more concerned about real-work skills needed to function at, or above, certain levels. But, on the other hand, it appears that the educational formats in China and Taiwan are designed around set standards that require the ability to quickly memorize large amounts of data and hard-wired formulas to solve problems.


With these known facts, does it prove that one educational system is necessarily better than the other? It’s just too easy to criticize either system without acknowledging the good points of the other.


The need to acquire total academic excellence and develop personal creativity is viewed differently under these systems. For example, particularly in China, without obtaining high academic scores the future for most students is indeed bleak. Without entrance into a good school, Chinese students can become locked in a negative social classification. Under such an academic environment, rivalry is high and in some cases downright cut-throat.


Students in the US are given a lot more chances to develop the needed academic skills without a very strict time limit. This can easily be observed in the wide letter grading system. This may, in turn, influence the amount of calculated results a student in the US educational system can give immediately without error. This is further complicated by the fact that different academic disciplines can employ their own teaching standards and grading systems.


It’s true that innovation is needed in order to train students how to face and solve the unique problems they’ll encounter in the future. Equally, without a solid base of core subjects, no innovation can be realized after conception.


This brings up a few questions. Is being creative the main or only key to becoming an innovator? Is having memorized core knowledge the only way to solve problems? I think both educational systems have a few things they can learn from each other. Based on my own experiences, I clearly see that a fusing of both systems may be beneficial.


Today both educational systems are undergoing vast reforms. A system that promotes proper core learning and understanding is a lot more practical than memorizing without knowing the reasons why a conclusion was made. Sounds easy? Is it possible to create an educational system that can develop both core knowledge and creativity equally? This may depend on the level of study a student is currently at. Like running a long distance race, learning should be properly paced. Everyone can’t run at the same pace just like everyone can’t learn at the same rate. Could the understanding and application of both academic systems, at some levels, promote personal educational responsibility?  This may help students develop a good learning core while, at the same time, develop creativity that is supported by the acquired core of learning. Is this a suggestion that nations promoting “free thinking” can accept? Can this style of learning take effect in nations where public opinion is strictly controlled?


Food for thought:

After a nation acquires economic solvency will the people of that nation begin to develop more interest in things like creativity and art?


What do you think?