photo by WVJazzman
The OECD Report on Education released Tuesday has received a fair bit of media attention with good reason. The study, conducted by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), measures academic capabilities of 15-year-olds in math, science, and reading among 65 countries.
China was involved for the first time and Shanghai ranked first in all three categories while Hong Kong ranked second (there was no evaluation of China nationally. Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Macao were all scored separately.) This left parents and teachers around the world thinking “what are they doing differently?”
Well, it turns out that two of the major factors are very simple and very powerful. Experts report that Shanghai’s success has a great deal to do with hard work and dedication. Students work hard and feel the most important factor is studying hard. The children believe that learning is the basis of success. This attitude is encouraged and supported by parents with emphasis on long hours of studying so they can improve their attention span as well as knowledge. "Non-attentive" students are not tolerated and are thus not able to interupt or slow down the class. Many children are also tutored in addition to their extensive home studying. Exercise is also considered important and occurs three times during the day.
Although I am simplifying a very detailed report and there are a vast number of factors at work in each countries education system, it appears to me that the Chinese tradition of valuing education is having an effect on their children’s scores. It makes me immediately think about how much screen time many North American children are exposed to, some stats say upwards of five hours a day. For me, the results of this report were a good reason to sit back and reassess how we spend our time and what is truly important.