Education in the Real World – Part 2/2

September 6, 2011

Compulsory education in China for primary education is from ages 6 to 12, and in 2001, there were 121 million students enrolled in this system.

Unlike the United States, almost half of those 121 million students dropped out of school at age 12 or entered vocational training, while the other half went on to the junior secondary education system, which educates ages 12 to 15.

Another 54.8 million children drop out of China’s education system at the end of the junior secondary system at age 15.

China’s senior education system educates about 12 million students ages 15 to 18, which means China’s top 10% of all students, while in America, the public schools are still struggling to teach 90% of the children that started school at age 6, and about a third are not interested for a variety of reasons such as the self-esteem parenting movement, hunger or safety.

In China, to be accepted into the senior education system, students must take an entrance test called the ‘Zhongkao’, which is the Senior Secondary Education Entrance Examination held annually in China to distinguish junior graduates.

While exams in China compare students so only the best move on, exams in America do not do this. Instead, exams in the US are used to measure the success of schools and teachers, and students are not treated as failures no matter what their score.

When a student fails in the US, the teacher is often blamed—not students or parents.

However, China’s school system operates mostly on meritocracy so only the best students move on, while the US keeps every student until age 18 no matter what their academic performance, attitude toward education or classroom behavior is.

The reason so many students are kept in the American education system is that there is no competition among students to succeed since the system is designed to make it look as if all students are equal.  Often, one student graduates at age 18 reading at a 4th grade level, while another from the same class graduates reading at the university level and these two students may have been taught in the same classrooms by the same teachers.

America does this so students will not be embarrassed or feel bad about themselves. Instead of failing the student, the US fails the teacher for what the student did not learn even if the student did not study.

In China, if a student stays in school and makes it into college, he or she can be assured to be ready for university work but in the United States over half of high school graduates cannot do university work and must take remedial classes before enrolling in university courses.  This creates a huge economic burden on America’s economy due to a majority of Americans refusing to accept reality that countries such as China accepted long ago.

Return to Education in the Real World – Part 1


This edited and revised post originally appeared on August 8, 2011, at Crazy Normal as Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 4


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Life of Confucius – Part 5/5

May 5, 2010

In 484 BC, a former student convinced the rulers of Lu to call Confucius home.  He returned to Chufu still believing he would find a ruler who would listen to him.  The ruling warlords asked him how to find honest officials.

Confucius replied, “Be honest yourself.”

He was ignored and retired to edit the poetry and books he loved. From his study, he watched the powerful leaders fight horrible wars among themselves and witnessed the Chinese people suffering. His daughter was married. His son, who died young, was lazy and hated learning.

In his old age, his students were his family. Claims say that he had about three thousand followers but only seventy-two were devoted to him. One student was his favorite.  Yen Hui reminded Confucius of his own youth. He believed that Yen Hui would carry on his work but at forty-one, Yen Hui died. Confucius wept saying, “Heaven has turned against me.”

Confucious grave for tourists

Depressed, Confucius thought, “Now I know that heaven has a will of its own.” In 479 BC, Confucius died. His last words were bitter. “Will no ruler come forward and take me as his master.”  He saw himself as a failure. He had no idea that his thoughts would become the dominate philosophy of China for centuries.

Today, billions work hard, value an education and believe that every person has a chance at success.

Return to Part 4 of “The Life of Confucius” or go here to learn more about The influence of Confucius.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The First of all Virtues – Part 9/9

February 1, 2010

There are always exceptions when it comes to practicing piety. Even in China, there will be the occasional rude individual. The thing is, I haven’t seen or heard one yet, and I have visited China many times since 1999.

I did have a disrespectful, American born Asian student (once) during the thirty years I was a teacher.

I also had a small number of hard-working, respectful students from all ethnic groups—even those that were American born, but those types seem to be a dying breed in Western culture.

My best students were usually immigrants that came to the United States after living in their birth country for several years.

In addition, I had one American born student enter high school as a freshman after being home taught for eight years by his Caucasian, conservative Christian parents. He was a great person—polite and he worked hard.

He never said, “Hey, old man.”

Visit this site and you will quickly discover that someone does not agree with me about China. China, rude, dirty and annoying.  Maybe this person has a Chinese face.

The Chinese can be very abrupt and rude with each other but usually treat foreign faces with respect.

Return to The First of All Virtues Part 1 or return to Part 8


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Spoiled and Confused — China’s new urban generation (Viewed as Single Page)

January 28, 2010

This guest post by Chris “Foreign Monkey” Bewley first appeared as a four-part series, which started on May 25, 2011 as Spoiled and Confused — China’s new urban generation – Part 1

Chris Bewley has taught English as a foreign language for the past 10 years all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Mexico and Brazil.


When I first arrived in China as an English teacher, I had lofty scholastic goals: I wanted to try a creative variety of class activities and apply a broad spectrum of teaching methods that my students could benefit from to make them competitive in academia and, later, the international job market.

Almost 1 year later, my primary responsibility as a “Foreign Expert English Instructor” has been distilled down to little more than babysitting a bunch of spoiled, undisciplined children who for the most part want nothing to do with English.

At my crowded primary school in a small, semi-urban city in East China, there exists what I have coined the “20/20/20” split in each of my classes (60 kids per class): 20 eager/20 indifferent/20 bad. Basically, I’m teaching 20 while trying to control 40.

To make it fair for everyone, I have to dumb-it-down/ fun-it-up every class. Instead of actually teaching, I find myself playing games with them and jumping around for them like a monkey, which is the only way to retain their attention.

On the positive side, of the eager 20, there are several extremely smart students who I expect one day to be quite successful in what ever they do. Unfortunately, whenever those eager 20 are trying to learn, the other naughty 40 will try just as hard to spoil it for them.

In the past year, I’ve had only a handful of students ever raise their hand and ask ME a question about the English language. That’s 1,200 students/week x 30 weeks, which equals 36,000 (thirty-six thousand) chances for a student to raise a question, but only five ever have. On the rare occasion that my students do ask me questions, it’s usually regarding the price of my clothes or how much I get paid.

Criticism about my lessons that I have received from students, parents and Chinese teachers alike includes “it’s too difficult”, “it’s not fun enough”, “there’s not enough participation/activity,” but never have I ever heard that my classes are too easy, which in my opinion they most certainly are.

By now, I have figured out that English lessons in (urban) China are just a show; a clown show; a monkey show – starring myself as the foreign monkey.

For parents’ week last month, whilst dozens of “concerned” parents and school administrators observed my classes for 5 days in a row, rather than actually teach their children, I just played a bunch of silly games and sang some songs with them, and, guess what? That made all the parents really, really happy!

Most recently, I found myself having to literally, physically, throw out my Chinese teaching assistant (a recent college graduate with no classroom experience hired right off the street for a minimal salary) to avoid a mutiny from within.

You see, she absolutely refused to discipline the rowdiest students, and did nothing to help control their deafening volume when I was trying to teach.

A quarter of China’s rural youth overweight!

When I approached her about this, her response was: “you are not a real teacher!” I imagine that this assistant was once (11 years ago, to be precise) a spoiled, indifferent primary school student herself; how sadly ironic that at age 21 she still indentified with the students rather than with me, the teacher.

China’s universities are being touted with utilitarian promise, a promise that trickles down all the way to the elementary school level. The Chinese’s fear of poverty has undermined intellectual diversity; plagiarism and cheating are rampant and go unpunished, reading books is not encouraged, greater importance has been placed on math than any other subject starting in the earliest years of child development, and there are no other languages other than English offered until university.

English “industry” in China is what I call “C.O.O.C”: completely out of control! There is literally a new, privately run children’s English “school” popping up on every other corner every other week. Nor is it an industry that has grown in a healthy, steady way from its infantile beginning; it is a product for infants in hyper-drive.

A perfect parallel to this is the car situation in China, which is also out of control.

I hate to say it because it has become an international cliché, but, truly, nobody in China knows how to drive or even park properly. Automobile ownership in China has, along with its economy, bloomed at an alarming rate in the past 5 years, resulting in massive congestion everywhere from the smallest towns to the largest cities.

It’s obvious that the people who own these cars use them primarily as status symbols rather than for necessity; it rarely rains in my city and there are no hills, yet every single day, 6 times a day, hundreds of parents dropping off/picking up their children in new, black Audis will cause an hour-long gridlock directly
in front of my school rather than be seen walking or riding a bicycle.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not a “China-hater.”

Colorful street life, extremely friendly people, great food, affordable massage parlors, a handful of good friends both Chinese and foreign, and a decent income have been sufficient to keep me reasonably comfortable.

But in the end, I have to ask myself: what am I here for? Because it’s obvious that China doesn’t want me to actually teach anybody anything.


Chris Bewley has taught English as a foreign language for the past 10 years all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Mexico and Brazil.

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