Is China's Education System Keeping Up With Growing Superpower?


Landman said that the traditional teaching style in China also hampers creativity.

"It's very rigid, the teacher speaks, the student regurgitates," she said.

The emphasis on lecturing and memorization is rooted less in Communism and more in China's link to Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher.

"It goes back to Confucius and the definition of an educated gentlemen as being able to recite the classics, being able to write a poem based on the standard structure of a poem....copying the master's way," she said.

Landman said that classrooms are evolving and that some circles of teachers encourage students to ask questions and have classroom discussion, a key to fostering students' creativity.

What might hinder young, Chinese educated professionals from making big waves for their country's economic progress could be self confidence, Landman argued.

"It's really deeply ingrained in Chinese culture to fit in, to not be the nail that sticks up and gets hammered down and there's also a very deeply ingrained sense of shame and being afraid to make mistakes and I don't think you make discoveries...without lots of failures," Landman said. "That's changing, but it's a gradual process."

Fierce Competition in Chinese School System

ABC News spoke with a Chinese student attending a top liberal arts school in the United States. He felt uncomfortable giving his name, but said that his parents could afford a top notch private high school in a major city.

He said that "students come out [of China's education system] having the mentality that they are constantly competing with their peers."

China has scarce resources for education opportunities, meaning not every kid can go to school, he aded.

Indeed, Landman said that there is a shortage of English teachers and that the classroom size is often 50 to 60 students per teacher.

The Chinese student ABC News spoke to stressed how much Chinese families are committed to their children's educations. For three decades, the Chinese government has imposed a one child rule on the population and that one child becomes the family's full hope and treasure.

"Parents are willing to send kids to college even if that means they can't live in their house," he said. "If I have to choose where to send my kids to precollege education, I'd send them back to China."

Boom of Chinese Studying At U.S. Colleges

The male student is part of a growing boom of Chinese students studying in U.S. universities. A new study by the Institute of International Education found that nearly 128,000 Chinese students studied in America last year, a 30 percent increase over the previous academic year.

Chinese students now comprise the highest percentage of international students in the United States at 19 percent.

Chinese mom Jane Feng sent her 16-year-old son to live in California because he was an average student in China and needed a jump start on getting into an American college. She says among American students, her average son was a math superstar.

"American universities have better education...I thought, if I'm going to send my child to the US for education, I should send him over earlier so he could have a chance to get used to life in the US," Feng said.

Landman from the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations said that what's different now about Chinese students studying abroad is that many want to go back to China after a few years.

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