Published on 2012/02/02
I am Chinese, and when I came to the USA a year ago, I had been living in China for more than 26 years (19 years in the village, the last 8 years in the city) so I know clearly about China’s education. I have changed so much during my year in the USA, and the most important reason why I changed so much is I am urgent to learn from the American system so that I can be greatly beneficial to higher education and social development of China. I love China even if it is not as good as USA.

Enhance, Support, Innovate And Grow
Schools in rural China don't give students the base to succeed. Photo by Thomas Galvez

Because I have rich experience on education about China (village and city) and USA, I would like to tell my idea by comparing different education experiences in the USA, and the Chinese village and city. Through comparative analysis, I get several conclusions:

First, my rich experience tells me that a good teacher is very important to education. Why do I have this kind of idea? When I received education in village of China, my teachers had poor knowledge and taught us just as the reference book had showed. When I asked them “why?”, they always told that the only thing I need to do is to recite everything. If I asked them for the second time, they would be angry. When I got the chance to go to the city for my higher education, I was shocked, because the teachers taught me why things happened and told me how to think logically, but they were still limited. They just know old knowledge and could not teach me how to create something new, so I decided to go to USA and, now that I am here, I am lucky that my teachers told me how to find new important questions and how to overcome them while the teachers in city of China could not teach me (needless to say those village teachers also weren’t up to the task), so I get the conclusion that a good teacher is extremely important to education. We need to cultivate many good teachers in 21st century.

Another major thing is that every country needs to invest more money in education and it must be fair to poor regions. The American government invests more money  in education than China and we could see that the education is great even in the poor, western part of USA. This is a vital reason why the USA develops healthy, and every country needs to learn if they would like to develop well in 21st century. Since the education cost in Chinese cities is more than the cost in the village, we have much more students (nearly 3/4 more) in villages than students in city. In the USA, students in rich and poor areas have the same chance receiving good education and becoming successful, but it is unfair in China. Most students in the city have the chance going to university, but most students in villages have to go to the “social university” after high school. Some of them do not even have the chance of going to elementary school. I believe it leads to huge social problems. So I have the concept that we must devote more money in higher education and it is also needs to be fair to all students, no matter whether you come from rich region or poor district.

Third, a good environment is very important. Having a good environment means everyone in a group loves the work they do and they are glad to share their ideas and knowledge. All of them like to help each other at any time and any instance; at least one of them are the leading expert in a given domain, because the best expert knows which questions are important in the domain and whether we have a chance to overcome the problem, allowing us to get the result we want with less time and money. But the best experts in China do not like spending time on education, from which they get little benefit. They spend more time on acquiring money from the government because the best way to get money is establishing good relationships with those government officials who have power assigning research funds. A more normal, fair and reasonable system about research funds is urgently needs to emerge, and we have to find a way to let those top experts spend more time on teaching. Another problem in China is that the Chinese academic culture is to not share ideas or put forward good suggestions, because they enjoy the feeling they are better than people around them which is too bad a habit rooted in deep their heart. The education system in China has to face up this question. Knowledge is important, but a healthy soul is also as important as the knowledge. China’s rapid development would be affected because without sharing with each other, we would get less innovation (which is the bottleneck to development for every country).

I also have had many other important ideas since I came USA which are special important in the 21st century. For example, higher education must encourage innovation with more effort than ever, what we learned from school must converge with the needs of society to a certain degree, and so on.

This was Jianping Li’s response to the EvoLLLution panel question: What is one thing you would change about higher education? Check out more responses to this question here!

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Readers Comments

Juan Casimiro 2012/02/02 at 10:35 pm

Jianping Li, thank you so much for sharing this story. If there anything to help you make your dream a reality, let me know…

Reach out to me via my FB above.

Jianping Li 2012/02/06 at 2:19 pm

it is really a good article,I like it

Koteswara Rao Valasani 2012/02/06 at 2:25 pm

Good

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