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Copy Cat Education

A recent article1 in the BBC highlighted that the UK government are considering doing an exchange programme for maths teachers in the UK with maths teachers in China. The aim is to increase standards and learn from a teachers in Shanghai, a city which has one of the best academic records in the world.

I think the UK government are missing something here and not considering the culture and desire of people within the east. China has a population over one billion and so getting a school place is a competition and sets the competitive mindset in parents from birth.

Other things to consider:

  • The poorest and richest people in the world live in China, with very little government handouts. This has added an increased pressure on students to succeed. The need to do well becomes a survival instinct rather than a nice to have.
    In China education is part of the culture, not something that can just be picked up and copied or borrowed.
  • Culture brings expectations. Similar to other Asian societies, China still has an embedded cast system, resulting in some families worrying about their standing within society. Concerns over jobs associated to their background, education for their children, the background of the future partners for their kids and even the car they drive.

I just do not think this type of solution really works. Governments need to really think about the cause and effect connectives.


  1. BBC 
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