(submitted to Beijing Kids website)
Recently, on a LinkedIn thread, I read a post by an American teacher-trainer who claimed US kids are the "brightest, most capable, most creative in the world". Another stated that, since there are so many ethnic groups in America, there is no need to look beyond its own borders for innovative ideas...
I wonder if this over-confidence isn't at the root of major weaknesses in the American system. If you think you're already perfect, there is no need to learn anything new. (And I thought we Canadians had a monopoly on being perfectly smug!)
China seems to be recognizing that an influx of Western educational philosophy might be of benefit (perhaps - just perhaps - in more than financial terms). In return, is America recognizing that a little of East-to-West influence might also be in order?
One memory from working in an English-speaking accredited International School in Finland, is a discussion I had with the Maths teacher there. A group of five Grade 8 boys from Japan had arrived and were so bored with the curriculum that this good man was forced to advance his group to covering three-dimensional trigonometry. He needed my help (as Learning Support Teacher) to help the Western students cope with the challenges. While the Japanese boys easily completed trig problems, our Canadian/American students were fishing for calculators trying to determine whether 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 constituted a 3/4/5 ratio - an exercise in futility.
Anyone who has worked with both Eastern and Western students knows that Asian students will be far more advanced in Math.
Perhaps Western educationists, who are currently putting so much emphasis on collaboration in learning, could benefit from doing a little collaboration of their own...