If China's Education Policies Create Depressed Students, Why Are We Copying Them?

Chinese students are the best in the world on standardized tests, but the methods they're using are causing a slew of societal problems.

When students in Shanghai scored in first place in reading, math, and science on the 2010 Programme for International Student Assessment test, educators and politicians around the world started looking into how they could model their education system's on China's. But there are major downsides to the Chinese approach: A Pew survey earlier this year revealed that the test-obsessed culture and competitive nature of Chinese schools has created a generation of depressed and suicidal students. Now, concerned parents and teachers are speaking out about what is happening in schools to cause the crisis.

According to Channel News Asia, Chinese parents blame much of the pressure their children feel on the practice of linking teacher pay with student performance. Beijing parent Li Yinhe, the mother of a 9-year-old who struggles in school, says the teachers find ways to “not have poor performing students in their classes, because one performer would drag down the overall average.” Teachers berate students in front of their classmates for low performance, which causes shame to the entire family. The parents, in turn, feel they have no choice but to put pressure on their children.

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