I asked a wise friend in China:
In USA charter era, from 1993 to now, there were lots of diff school types or models developed.
So 8,000+ charter schools, with perhaps 12+ very different models, and lots of small variation on top of that.
But in the China private school explosion which started a few years ago, it seems like roughly 1 or 2 models (to me). Lots of copying. Little variation.
Same governance, same teaching style, same assessment, same facility type, same price, same school culture, same schedules, same mission, same teacher recruiting, same pedagogy.
Some differences, for sure. But a kid could transfer from school A to B without any big changes.
And even the “features” seem common across these new schools…lots of “today’s fad” (let’s say “Design Thinking”). I suspect in 5 years that will all be changed to tomorrow’s fad.
Finally my question:
Is my perception correct – are these new Chinese schools 95% same in design/assumptions?
My Chinese friend says:
Yes, you are right. The education market revolves around what the parents want. (But you therefore have to appreciate how China is a low trust society, and that affects what parents want).
So you get “faddish” things that are in vogue.
In order to truly revolutionize education in China, you are going to have to sell the teachers.
Once they have “drunk from your kool-aid,” they can, in turn, change the minds of the parents.
Anyways, that is what I believe and that is what my wife and I have tried to do.
Whenever you try to educate the parents, they just fall for the latest sales pitch. And, of course, there is always another huckster with a better sales pitch around the corner.
When the teachers buy into your paradigm shift, they end up not only using what you taught them, but they are able to convince the parents in a way that salespeople never can.
* * *
I generally like the idea of winning over parents through teachers, who earn parent trust.
I wrote before about Parents In China.
Here in USA, there’s question: should schools be more what about what parents want, or what teachers want, or what education officials want?
Chinese parents increasingly seem to want a more Western pedagogy.
But only if that doesn’t cost them any chance of university admissions at prestigious places.
In China and many other countries (like Kenya), parents care more about test scores than American parents do.
But Chinese parents care more about test scores in part because officials who control higher education base admission solely on test scores.
This “test only” policy then affects the culture of “caring about tests,” so it’s hard to separate chicken and egg.
By contrast in USA, assuming you’re not super rich where your parents will donate a building or something, then college admission is perhaps
– 40% grades/class rank (within your school) – based on teacher-created exams, not standardized ones.
– 40% SAT/ACT/AP/IB nationally standardized exams
– 20% your story and interests and if you’re really good at something
So it’s easier for American parents to care less about standardized test scores.