Educational differences between China and Canada
By Pan Deng, Contributor
Thirty years ago, Chinese politician and reformist leader, Chairman Deng Xiaoping quoted the Chinese motto, “Education changes one’s destiny.” This inspired a nation to learn. Local universities began to catch up with western education; Chinese high school students were accepted into universities at home and in the West.
Chinese university education has grown a lot since those days and continues to make progress. However, after experiencing two semesters at Douglas College, I feel that the Chinese university education scripture still has room to improve when compared to Canadian education.
The first area to note is the cultural difference. Chinese education teaches students obligation, while Canadian education teaches responsibility. As a subject of teaching, teachers should think about the objective of their lessons: is it to educate the students, or simply to get through the curriculum and textbook? If teachers take it as textbook, then students must pay attention to the information in the textbook and lectures—it’s the students’ responsibility to learn. And as long as the information has been introduced by the teachers then the teachers’ job is done. This is how the Chinese handle education, through students’ obligation. Most of Chinese local universities, if not all, just care about how much is taught, not how much the students learn.
On the other hand, Canadian education, especially in the business program, treats learning not only as an obligation, but as a responsibility. They take care of students’ futures. Even though students just open a tiny window in their hearts to learn from the teachers, teachers will always welcome them and try to feed their needs. Students get real experience from teachers and a combination of theory and practice.
Teachers ask that students not only know, but also participate. If you don’t participate, then what’s the point of attendance? Chinese teachers always have big hearts as long as everybody shows up. But attendance does not always mean the students have a positive attitude toward their studies. Sometimes they can be reluctant. So only paying attention to attendance is not enough to understand the effectiveness of the lesson.
In my first class at Douglas, an instructor told us that if you don’t care then you don’t have to show up. Don’t waste your time, and go do something you want to instead.
This is a very mature point. Canadian teachers care more about students’ growth. Normally, no one likes people who go against their opinion, Chinese teachers especially. In China, a good student means one who obeys their teachers commands. In Canada, teachers teach students to think critically for themselves. And that’s more than writing down notes.