Facts about Education — China and the world versus America – Part 2/3

Myth: “The United States Used to Have the World’s Smartest Schoolchildren.”

ANSWER: Ben Wildavsky says, “No, it didn’t. Even at the height of U.S. geopolitical dominance and economic strength, American students were never anywhere near the head of the class … the results from the first major international math test came out in 1967 … Japan took first place out of 12 countries, while the United States finished near the bottom …

If American’s ahistorical [unconcerned with or unrelated to history or to historical development or to tradition] sense of their global decline prompts educators to come up with innovative new ideas, that’s all to the good.  But don’t expect any of them to bring the country back to its educational golden age—there wasn’t one.”

Myth: “Chinese Students Are Eating America’s Lunch.”

ANSWER: “Only Partly True … China’s educational prowess is real. Tiger moms (such as Amy Chua, who wrote Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) are no myth—Chinese students focus intensely on their schoolwork, with strong family support, but these results don’t necessarily provide compelling evidence of U.S. inferiority.”

Wildavsky then says that many of the students in rural China outside Shanghai (the only Chinese city where the PISA international test was conducted) are poorer and less educated than ‘China’s’ coastal cities …

(American) alarmist comparisons with other countries, Waldavksy says, whose challenges are quite different from those of the United States, don’t help.

He says, “Americans should be less worried about how their own kids compare with kids in Helsinki (Finland) than how students in the Bronx measure up to their peers in Westchester Country.”

Myth: “The U.S. No Longer Attracts the Best and the Brightest.


While Wildavsky mentions that the U.S. should be concerned about the future, the U.S. college education system was (and still is) second to none since the United States has long been the world’s largest magnet for international students.

In fact, he says there are more foreign students in the United States now than there were a decade ago—149,999 more in 2008 than in 2000.

For international graduate study, Wildavsky says, American universities are a particularly powerful draw in fields that may directly affect the future competitiveness of a country’s economy: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Continued on July 29, 2011 in Facts about Education – Part 3 or return to Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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3 Responses to Facts about Education — China and the world versus America – Part 2/3

  1. Merlin says:

    Anime/Manga is a slowly growing trend. The reason being is, it’s like our American cartoons, but without the slapstick comedy. Instead, it has a philosophical theme underlying it. The easiest way to explain it, it’s like the Japanese version of American comics except it focuses more on the REAL person or a futuristic world rather than people that in a random act of luck get super powers.

  2. Merlin says:

    Starting from the bottom.

    First, American Universities do have many qualified professionals, but at the same time I feel that a degree (that is practically required in today’s society for a job) is a little overpriced. Before, people rarely got degrees because to hold a simple job and live a simple life it was never required. Today you have kids going into the workforce with BA degrees and replacing workers that have no degree but have 20+ years of service for the company. It begs the question, what’s better? Knowledge from a book or many years of hands-on experience at a company?

    Second, the Chinese parents do good to get their kid to focus on studies. Moreover what I really see as an improvement over American students is how Chinese parents also try to get their kid to learn a skill. This can be anything from helping out on the farm, to sitting in front of a piano in the city. With the growing middle class you’re finding more of the American style growing in Chinese. What I mean by that is, the family doesnt have a farm/shop. And they’re not rich enough to afford lessons to help their kids learn a skill. So you’re finding more girls going out shopping or KTV and more guys filling in the chairs in Net Bars with friends playing CS or other online games.

    Third point. My personal opinion, there is a reason Japan ranks so high on testing scores above even China. Japan is a different society from the rest of the world. While the world lives in reality, japan seems to live in an alternate world of kids. A brief history of Japan: They were an imperial country with an emperor and warlords (equal to China except given different titles such as Samurai and Daimyo). Western powers entered the picture and created a new country modeled on Western society. This was destroyed in WWII. Japan was rebuilt by the next generation, or kids. Their foreign policy focuses on peace and denuclearization. Their lifestyle is kid focused. The government pays people to have kids to support their growing elderly population. When you go shopping, there are clowns and other entertaining things. Their media entertainment industry is so big it is leaking into the US and spreading it’s influence around the world. I’m talking about the computer game and anime world. Final Fantasy is a world famous game. I can even come to China and while nobody knows much about what I call the “halo revolution of America”, everyone can still relate to Final Fantasy X. As for Anime/Manga, walk inside any Barnes&Nobles and you will find a shelf for this genre. On American kids shows, Japan has influenced many. What began as the world Pokemon craze has broken up into many different divisions. DragonballZ, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Yugi-oh, Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop, and the list goes ever on. Dragonballz was a hit, and anywhere you wear a t-shirt your bound to find somebody at the shopping mall chasing you down screaming “Kamehameha!” Naruto has such a huge fanbase that even adults and women are sucked into the world of fandom. Ghost in the Shell and Cowboy Bebop create wonderful eye candy for single bachelors (or for married men dreaming they could be with something better).

    Another point I want to make is something I saw watching ICS one day. A man created this fun park like a miniature real world for kids. The kids can be cooks, bankers, doctors, cashiers in a supermarket, etc. Even though it’s a kid friendly place, the hamburgers are NOT play dough, and yes it is edible beef and ketchup!

    So, the points for Japan add up. Living in a kid friendly society, I cant speak for others, but I understand how their kids can test higher on education scores than others that take diving lessons into books. I think books were made more as a way to communicate with the past and as a TOOL, rather than as the teacher we make them out to be. Philosophy is an example I’d like to use because what is written in the book opens the mind and the learner is pushed to create their own answers to the questions of the universe.

    • I don’t know much about Anime/Manga but I shop regulalry at a local Half Price Book Store (used book store chain in the US that does very well — I usually haunt the bargain carts where the prices are $2 to $3). Anyway, there is a HUGE section for Anime/Manga right by one of the main entrances and there is also a bargain cart for Anime/Manga next to the half price section. I haven’t stopped to look but now maybe I’ll pick one up and see what it’s about. I’ve seen some of the Anime/Manga DVDs in the used DVD section too.

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