Quick Update: China and 2 million minutes
What is happening in China? and why I disagree with Bob Compton and his film 2 million minutes?
Just returned from a 10-day trip to China:
August 17, lecture at the training program for directors of Confucius Institutes in Beijing, flew to Kunming, Yunnan
18-19, meeting of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Chinese Language Teaching in Kunming, back to Beijing.
20, Presentation about Zon and trends of online language learning at Hanban, flew to Shanghai
21-22: Meetings with East China Normal University Press, Institute for Curriculum Research, Shanghai Municipal Education Commission’s Department of Teaching and Research, and Shanghai Distance Education Group, back to Beijing.
24-25: Meetings with Chinese Ministry of Education, China National Center of Educational Technology, Beijing Normal University’s newly established Faculty of Education, National Training Center for Primary School Principals, Beijing Institute of Education, and Beijing Institute for Educational Research.
Learned a lot:
- China is actively seeking effective ways to meet the needs of the growing population of Chinese language learners overseas. More qualified teachers, more effective methods, and more diverse materials have been identified as the areas that need most attention.
- China continues to battle its traditional “test-oriented education” that only focuses on producing good test scores in a number of limited academic subjects. The government is determined to move its education toward “quality-oriented education,” which essentially means focusing on the whole child and not judging students, teachers, and schools based on test scores or the rate of students admitted to colleges. Lots of initiatives are under way: de-link teacher performance pay with test scores, reform college admissions criteria and processes, devise authentic assessment tools, establish more comprehensive indicators of school effectiveness, forbid government schools from offering test-prep programs or extra tutoring sessions during the summer vacation, discontinue the use of scores in Math Olympiad for selecting students, etc..
While I was in China, I noticed that Mr. Robert Compton, producer of the documentary Two Million Minutes, was on two occasions associated with my recent discussions about education. First, Mr. Compton wrote a response to a blog post summarizing a video of me talking about education. Second, Mr. Compton was mentioned by Washington Post’s Jay Matthews, who wrote about my upcoming book: Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization.
Mr. Compton and I had exchanges about our different perspectives on education before and I present a very extensive discussion about my view of China and what kind of education we really need to be globally “competitive” in the new era in my book. I encourage you to explore the following links to understand why I disagree with what is presented in Two Million Minutes and Mr. Compton’s comments on the Ed Week blog post.
Public Debate with Mr. Compton at Indiana University:
- A summary of the debate: http://www.schoolvine.org/node/72
- Podcast of the debate: http://podcast.iu.edu/Portal/PodcastPage.aspx?podid=2a355ab0-40fe-4d4c-8e81-35429c9a36ae
Moderated discussion in the Journal of Comparative Education Review, which involved myself, Mr. Compton, and other scholars as well as one of the Indian students featured in the film:
A recent interview of me with Educational Leadership’s Lucy Robertson: