I was very impressed by both documentaries China Prep and 2 Million Minutes. Witnessing the rigorous curriculum and expectations that Chinese high school students must face their senior year was shocking. Being intelligent is a necessity for these students since their livelihoods depend heavily on their results from the “gaokao” test. The level of pressure and stress that Chinese students must deal with is incomparable to American teenagers. 2 Million Minutes also compared high school students from all over the world in their final year. Both videos made it quite obvious that education is much more competitive and appreciated by the youth in foreign countries. It is crucial that we as a nation make raise our education standards and make it a priority on a national level.
Standardized tests receive a lot of negative criticism as being an inefficient or outdated method of testing knowledge. The argument is that too much pressure is put on students to do well on a single test, rather than illustrating their knowledge of a subject through essays, projects, etc. The films viewed in class proved this theory by illustrating the hostile conditions some Chinese students had to deal with on a daily busy. Lack of sleep, social time with friends/family, exercise and insufficient heating is not a healthy lifestyle for any seventeen year old individual. Unfortunately, standardized tests are a necessary method for entrance into universities world-wide. Our educational systems must put more of an emphasis on preparing students to be successful and efficient test takers.
A majority of the students in the China Prep film were very bright and had positive attitude toward school, however, they lacked any extracurricular skills or activities. They do not gain any communication or creative abilities while preparing for the “gaokao” since it is all based on rote memorization. This can be detrimental to a student’s development to be successful in the future. Most of the students taking this exam will not be admitted into the universities of their choice, and many are forced to choose a completely new field of work. Overall, Chinese students enrolled in this type of rigorous academic environment benefit greatly from the dedicated teachers, constant studying, and internal motivation to succeed on the “gaokao” test. That being said, they are restricted in other areas of development which may be harder to master as they get mature
American students have a very different view of their senior year of high school. In fact, junior year is commonly regarded as the most demanding since that is when most students take the ACT/SAT. The students from Carmel High in Indiana barely spent any time studying or doing homework. Both Brittany and Neil were at the top of their class respectively, it took little effort on their behalf. Many American students view school as a purely social environment in which “learning” is not the top priority. Sports, student government, and other extracurricular activities take precedent over many American students education. I’m not saying that we should get rid of these programs from our school systems, but students must be held more accountable for their actions in order to develop a postive academic and self identity.
I believe that our nation’s teachers are just as dedicated in comparison to educators from India and China. The main difference is our nation’s mentality and outlook on education. Many parents are either over involved or completely unaware of their child’s activity at school. A plethora of parents have demanding jobs and are physically unable to spend hours helping a student study. That being said, they can still make academic success a priority and expectation in their households.
American students need to must learn how to become internally motivated and willing to absorb any and all information during their time in high school. I believe one way to achieve this is by making academics more competitive. Many of the students in China were excelling in their academics because they were in an environment where everyone was actively engaged and trying to increase their knowledge. The students living in India had no problem being motivated since their livelihood and survival depended on being accepted to a top university. They embrace their studies and know that they will benefit in the future if they work hard in high school. A societal change must occur in which education is viewed as the ideal method of obtaining a successful career and fully developing as an individual and global citizen.