Monday, August 6, 2007
Korean teenagers vs. Chinese teenagers
My experience in Korea is much more limited than that In China, but it seems that Chinese students are much more diligent, and respectful. A recent experience comes to mind. My experience so far, when giving middle school students when given assignments, they outright refuse to do the assignments. Literally standing over them they will write something, but the work will be very poor.
It has nothing to do with capability. The most capable students will sit and do nothing, acting as if they have no ability.
These students exist in every country. China had these students as well, but it was usually limited to a row or two of students who hid out in the back of the class room. College students in China had a similar quality, a few students in the back of the room not wanting to participate. However, a strange phenomena occurred in China. Hiding in the back row was a small number of students who had high ability, but limited their class participation because of shyness, or perhaps just simply because it didn't suit their learning style.
High school students in China seem very willing to put in the hours studying. I've always thought that the amount of studying that some Chinese students do was self-defeating. Pouring over books for hours on end must have its limits. On the flip side, students who do nothing when give instruction to do something, certainly fall short.
So what is the difference. I've had a theory developing for sometime now. In China the one child policy has been in effect for a number of years, something like 20 or so. The result is that many family's children are put high on a pedestal. This only compounds the reality that children in Asia were already long ago placed on a pedestal. I am not staying this is necessarily wrong, except in cases where the children are so shielded from life that they grow up a little too spoiled and somewhat incapable of caring for themselves. This does not explain Chinese students study habits except to suggest that the parents really light a fire under their kids in order to see them succeed.
A second their economic opportunities. The number and quality of jobs available to Chinese graduates is far less than in more developed countries. While this has been changing in recent years of double-digit growth for China, the lesson was long ago learned. If you don't give yourself every opportunity to be successful, there is no chance of being chosen ahead of over-qualified people all vying for the same position. Korean students just have to many opportunities to really care enough to try hard. A similar observation might be made about American students.
Whatever the cause...whatever the question...this question might might be considered differently with more experience in Korea. However, that will need some time.