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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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Bring Snacks (or Else): Professor Who Canceled Class Might Be on the Right Track

Cal State Sacramento psychology professor George Parrott walked out of class after students didn't bring snacks.


Want to take psychology professor George Parrott's class at California State University at Sacramento? If so, you better be prepared to bring homemade snacks to class. Without them, Parrott will decline to teach the class, a policy he followed through on last week when the students who had signed up for snack duty didn’t bring the agreed-upon munchies to their three-hour lab. After Parrott walked out, a few students complained, and now the university administration is investigating.

At first glance, Parrott's snack rule seems like the quirk of a tenured professor—he’s been on the job since 1969 and started his snack rule shortly thereafter. But the professor—who rarely eats the snacks himself—told Inside Higher Education that his requirement is educational, not culinary. He says he's teaching students to "work together, to set a schedule, to work in teams to get something done, and to check up on one another, since everyone depends on whoever has the duty of bringing snacks on a given week." Parrott believes that his walkout taught students "an important lesson" that will serve them well throughout both their academic career and work experience: They need to be able to count on each other, and if someone doesn’t follow through with a task, it’s a big deal.

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Texas Gutting Education But Spending $4 Billion to Widen 28-Mile Highway

The Lone Star State: Still not convinced that schools need money.

If you have $4.4 billion to spend, what's more important, widening a 28-mile highway or stopping devastating school budget cuts? According to the State of Texas—the same state that's subsidizing Formula One racing while preparing to lay off 100,000 teachers—the highway is the priority.

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