What Finland can teach China about education
May 1st, 2012
05:00 PM ET

What Finland can teach China about education

Editor's Note: Jiang Xueqin is a deputy principal at Peking University High School and the director of its International Division. The following post was originally published in The Diplomat, a stellar international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region. 

By Jiang Xueqin, The Diplomat

I’ve just finished a week visiting Finnish schools, and on my last day, while touring Finland’s best high school, I ran into China’s vice minister of education, who was spending the day in Helsinki looking at what China can learn from the world’s best K-12 school system.

If the vice minister were to ask me what parts of Finland’s education system I thought China could and should emulate (he didn’t) I’d tell him there were two things.

First is Finland’s pre-kindergarten system, in which children as young as nine months-old can attend until they are six. In each class, four university-educated teachers supervise about twenty children as they play sports, eat meals, and sleep together. This voluntary and pay-as-you-can daycare may seem costly, but it’s the best investment a society can make if it wants to ensure equality of opportunity for its children. FULL POST

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Topics: China • Education
February 14th, 2012
02:06 PM ET

Why Jeremy Lin matters

Editor's Note: Jiang Xueqin is a deputy principal at Peking University High School and the director of its International Division. He has previously worked as a journalist, a documentary film-maker, and a United Nations press officer.

By Jiang Xueqin, The Diplomat

One writer who must be excited right now about basketball team the New York Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin is Michael Lewis, America’s best writer of non-fiction. In his book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Lewis profiles the Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane, as he stole unseen stars from wealthier teams by exploiting baseball’s prejudices; unlike the rest of baseball, Beane wasn’t interested in good looking athletic players who either hit homeruns or struck out nobly, but in smart players who got on base. In The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Lewis uses the inspiring rags-to-riches story of a poor homeless African-American high school player to explain how football strategy and tactics have evolved over the years.

And at long last, with the arrival of Jeremy Lin onto the world stage, Michael Lewis can complete his sports trilogy. FULL POST

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Topics: Uncategorized
Tiger Mother, meet Wolf Father
(Getty Images)
November 28th, 2011
02:56 PM ET

Tiger Mother, meet Wolf Father

Editor's Note: The following post was originally published in The Diplomat, an international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region.

By Jiang Xueqin, The Diplomat

The Chinese-language website bbs.eduu.com is a popular platform for Beijing’s middle-class parents to discuss their one obsession: the education success of their only child. Most threads focus on securing a spot at a reputable junior high, a rite of passage of hostingguanxi (networking) dinners and customizing bribes so stressful that Chinese parents have likened it to their D-Day – the one battle that wins a war and defines a generation. Make no doubt about it: These Chinese parents, whose child is their full-time pre-occupation, are proud of their battle scars.

It’s common among Beijing’s middle-class for the mother to quit her job to focus on child-rearing full-time. These mothers rally around the flag not of Amy Chua, but of Lin Weihua who published the original battle hymn of the tiger mother, Harvard Girl.  Harvard Girl revolutionized parenting in China by bringing scientific management to child abuse: According to Lin Weihua, to increase your child’s patience and endurance, you should make her stand on one leg for half an hour, and clasp ice until her hand turns purple. FULL POST

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Topics: Culture • Odd
How Shanghai schools beat them all
A Chinese teacher asks a question to a student after they watched a video featuring Japan's wartime rise in a history lesson at a high school in Shanghai on 24 March 2005. (Getty Images)
August 1st, 2011
11:00 AM ET

How Shanghai schools beat them all

By Jiang Xueqin, The Diplomat

It appears that no one takes education quite as seriously as the Shanghainese.

Every three years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) administers its worldwide Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to measure how well a nation’s education system has been preparing its students for the global knowledge economy. Nations such as South Korea, Finland, and Singapore have traditionally topped the rankings, but, apparently, even they are no match for Shanghai, which shoved the others into lower positions in its very first year of participation in the programme, in 2009.

When I was in Paris last week, I decided to drop in on Andreas Schleicher, the programme’s architect, to get his views on PISA and Shanghai’s education system. Dr. Schleicher, who was recently profiled in the Atlantic Monthly, had some very interesting things to say about both. FULL POST

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Topics: East Asia • Education
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