Eastern & western differences in educational methods- I
Different educational systems exist around the world with emphasis placed in different areas. Asians are typically seen as hardworking and studious while Westerners are more relaxed and are more focused on extracurricular activities. Also, generally, Asian parents tend to put much more pressure on their children while Western parents usually let their kids pursue their passion or interests. Through two different stories, I would like to show that there are in fact many exceptions.
There was once an Asian family with two sons. The older one was very ordinary, earning mediocre marks at school. His parents invested a lot in him without seeing many results, leading to major disappointment. On the other hand, the younger one was extremely smart. He received top honours in all aspects of school and excelled in extracurricular activities such as music, chess and arts.
Of course, the younger son’s excellence made the parents feel proud and honoured and he became the topic of conversations during family gatherings. Eventually, the parents gave up on the older son, investing more time and money to train the younger one. The plan was to send him to well-renowned schools and to learn as many diverse skills as possible from professionals.
The younger one, who had high expectations and pressure placed on him, admired the freedom that the older brother had. However, he was still considered rather obedient and always worked hard in school. He was always the top student up until high school and entered into the prestigious Harvard University. After graduating, he suddenly didn’t want to do anything anymore. He told his parents, ”I have already done my part in pleasing you. You can finally tell your friends that have a son that graduated from Harvard. That alone should be enough for you to brag about. But, ever since I was young, I have lived under the pressure of your expectations and have given my all to try to fulfill them. Now, it’s time for me to relax and to live the way that I want to.” For many years after, this Harvard graduate spent his life wandering without much purpose.
As for the older son, his parents never really put much pressure on him, giving him more time and freedom to attend fun, extracurricular activities. He wasn’t forced to get extra private courses outside of class but managed to be a part of boy scouts for many years. He came into contact with various organizations and gained comprehensive knowledge and skills. He also found his passion and area of expertise while gaining self-confidence and knowing that hard work leads to results.
Contrary to above story there was a true story happened in the States reflected the different value system.
A reporter once went to visit the mother of the President of United States. The reporter asked, “you must be very proud of your son, right?” “Yes”, the mother answered plainly, "I have two sons. The older one is a farmer. Which son you are talking about?” This mother is proud of both of her two sons because despite their differences in status and position, they both display honesty, a hardworking attitude and kindness to everyone.
I had an Asian friend that worked in a Canadian Federal Government Institution as manager. One of his tasks was to recruit new staff members. I was extremely surprised when he told me that every year he recruited very few Asians especially the Chinese. I asked him why. He responded that even when many Asians immigrate to another country, they still hold very strongly to their culture. Their mentality makes it more difficult to integrate into a team-first environment and affect the working efficiency. Furthermore, despite being an Asian born in the States, the overall quality (leadership abilities, social skills, communication skills, creativity) still is quite lacking and requires refining.
In the next several articles, I would like to use many stories to illustrate the differences that result from different educational systems as well as the effect culture has on them.
Which of the two do you think is better?
Does the two different educational system contradict each other? Can they work together?