Ten Facts about Chinese Education

It is not an article of introducing Chinese school system or its history. It is just slices of memory about my education back in China.

1 We learn mainly by repetition

We are required to memorize English textbooks, ancient poetry, and good articles. We are not allowed to ask questions until class ends. We sit in the classroom from 7 am to 10 pm and learn lots of material by heart. The teacher cares about our grades instead of caring about whether we understand the material. Our parents and educators told us the meaning of a book would become apparent if you read it many (hundreds of) times. The best and fastest way to learn is through verbatim. We don’t read many extracurricular reading materials. Instead, we spend most of our time on studying textbooks. I can still clearly remember what we learn when I was in primary school.

2 Body Warm-ups in the morning

We practice warm-ups every morning from 7:45 am to 8 am. When the music starts playing, thousands of students will pour out to the playground and do the morning exercises together. We raise our arms to the sides and up, hopping in place and twisting our bodies. On each Monday morning, we will do the lineup to see the national flag raised and one student representative will make a speech responding to the news happened that week or month. I was once the hostess of flag raising ceremony. Between 9:45 am and 10 am, we will do eye exercises —we press particular points on our faces accompanied by relaxing music and an instructor’s recorded voice in the broadcast

3 We read out loud together for an hour every morning.

Monday and Wednesday morning from 7 am to 8 am we read Chinese textbooks. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday morning we read English books. We started to learn English when we were seven years old. It is a compulsory course throughout our education in China.

4 Long study hour in both classroom and home

Our school schedule is from 7 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday. Class starts at 8 am and ends at 4 pm.From middle school, everyone is required to participate in self-study session at classroom from 7 pm to 9:30 pm, which a lot of students hatc.

5 Parental expectations on children’s academic performance

People in China like to compare everything. Chinese parents tend to push their kids a lot and have high expectation on their grades. Good exam results are associated with success, and entire families can pin all their hopes on the single child. If you are admitted to Tsinghua and Beida, the top two universities in China, your social status seems to be changed forever(especially for poor kids).

6 We wear ugly uniforms and the same hairstyle

For centuries in China, the high grade has been regarded as the only effective way for entering a prestigious university. Thereby, parents and schools are all unwilling to have us distracted by outfit and cosmetics, etc. So the most direct and efficient way to this end is uniform students into baggy & ugly school outfits.
Another strange thing is that only two hairstyles are allowed for the boys: ‘crew cuts’ or ‘flat tops.’ My husband is the victim of it. His hair was a little bit longer than flat tops. His teacher asked him not to get back to class until he had his hair cut. So far this rule still leaves a shadow in his life. There are barbers stationed at our school gates to ‘fix’ the haircuts of the students. The school said in this way, students can focus on their studies. As I grow up, I feel like they are treating us like prisoners.

7 Wear red-scarf every day in elementary school

We have to wear red-scarf every day when we were the first year in elementary school. If we forget to wear it, we cannot be allowed to enter the school. I remember I always forgot to wear it. So I bought lots of new red scarves at the grocery store outside of the school. Besides, every month every student should join in a general cleaning. I bet western schools never have this kind of cleaning.

8 Military Education and Training when the term starts

Military Training is mandatory when the middle school, high school, and college term start. During the 14-day training week, we are required to go to a certain place and practice Formation training including a stand at attention, stand at ease, footwork, salute, and review. We were trained physically, technically and psychologically. It is considered an opportunity for us to discipline our will, strengthen our bodies, as well as learn some basic military information. Thirty of us live in a single room while doing military training. We are allowed to take baths every three days.  The happiest time memory for me is I could take a shower. I am so glad that I am never going to have this kind of training again.

9 High rate of nearsightedness

I went to the best high school at my city. There are 50 students in my class and only me, and another guy is not myopic. 90% of students(450 million people) are nearsightedness in my country.

10 After school classes

Parents send students to after school classes: Maths Olympics, English, Chinese chess, art and martial arts. Piano levels are divided into 1 to 10. These courses are very popular, and some students even have to take several of them over the weekend. Why parents do this? The answer simply is to increase their children’s competitiveness. I remember I went to New Oriental (a provider of private educational services in China) taking English tutoring classes for many years, including German, GMAT, Tofel, etc.

In conclusion, strict disciplinarian schools do produce very smart and hard working adults. However, our individuality, being a unique individual, is robbed. As I grow up, I realize that rotate learning is not sustainable. People in the US never memorize. Instead, they challenge the material and make their judgment. We miss the education of social skills, critical thinking and being creative. Our opportunity of being a unique, the chance to blossom into the unique individuals, is robbed.


1 China education differs from the US


2 School life in China


4 thoughts on “Ten Facts about Chinese Education

  1. sophie5089 says:

    There are lot of things that we need to reflect on. If I were given another to be a parent again, I will not repeat the mistakes I have made. I hope more young parents will realize what is the best to their children, and help their children dig out their real interests and potentials. It’s never too late to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

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