After watching all 3 episodes of the BBC documentary, Are our kids tough enough, Chinese School, in my opinion, there is one aspect of British kids that really needs to improve: coping with competition and failure.
When British kids were in the PE class, they were very upset that they might fail. Philippa actually sobbed on not passing one item. And she said:
"I just don't think comparing yourself to others is a good, healthy life style."
Philippa is not alone. In the 1st episode, we saw another boy sobbed during PE class.
Well, I have to agree with Philippa that it is not a healthy life style. But competition is part of life. Ranking students all the time with different measures is of course too much, but exposing them to a certain dose of competition is essential to their development. To Philippa, I'd say it's equally not healthy if young people are so scared of competition that they sob on a failure in just one PE preparation. I don't want my daughter to be so fragile.
So this is the advantage of Chinese teaching. Put all the drawbacks aside, this is probably one thing Britain should learn from Chinese teaching: To get the kids used to competition.
It came to me as a complete surprise that the BBC documentary Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese Schoolgot so much attention, and the debate over which is better, the Chinese way or the British way, actually got so heated up.
So I just spent 2 hours watching it on Youtube and here's what I think.
First of all, I'd say the heated debate and all the furious comments on which way of teaching is better are mostly not based on the video itself. Because what the documentary shows is not a meaningful comparison. All the Chinese teachers simply failed miserably in managing their classes from the very beginning, due largely to, in my humble opinion, cultural conflict and language barrier. So I'll base my comment on the program and maybe comment on the debate over this program in a separate post.
I don't know who organized this. I think it's a fantastic idea in terms of cultural exchange. But if the goal is to compare the Chinese way of teaching to the British way of teaching, it cannot be taken seriously.
Teaching involves extensive interaction between the teachers and the students. Language barrier and cultural difference cannot be overlooked. Stories of foreign teachers got frustrated in Chinese classes because Chinese students were inactive have been around since 20+ years now. Why should we expect the Chinese teachers not to be shocked in a British school? This cultural shock should be expected and extra time should be planned for both the teachers and the students to adapt.
This talk is kind of special. The content has nothing really new to me, except the fact that Darwin had actually concluded that skin color has nothing to do with climate. However, Ms. Nina Jablonski delivered it in such passion and power that you feel the urge of immediate action.
You can tell from the fluent flow of long sentences that this is for sure a carefully prepared talk. But no passion was lost in the preparation. Outstanding!