The Difference Between Chinese and American Education Systems

By Tianjing Gu

The education system in China is very different from America. In China, education is centered around following what teachers say and getting good grades on exams. Students focus more on studying but less on critical thinking, and they pay little attention to practice and application.

In China, from primary school to high school, almost all students are not encouraged to play. Parents want their children to study all the time, to get good grades, to enter a good school, and, finally, to get a good job. Students try to memorize almost all of the information in their required textbooks in order to prove themselves. They do not have any free time to have fun—with all of their time being spent working on homework, which will never really be completed. This can have bad influences on those students. For example, they often follow the directions of their teachers and parents, rather than forming their own thoughts about what they would like to do in the future. In addition, it is very difficult for students to change their specialty while attending a university once they have decided on a career path. This causes many students to lose interest in their studies and future career.

However, in America, the education system is based on encouraging students to be more creative and have more thoughts. Students always have free time to have fun, especially when they are young. Students are encouraged to get involved with sports and other activities, which can also improve their intelligence. For example, their judgment, reasoning, and communication skills can be improved during these activities. In class, students are more focused on developing the ability to analyze problems and provide solutions. The classes are more open-minded, and students can discuss and absorb different ideas. In college, even though students have already chosen their specialty, they can easily change paths if they discover they no longer enjoy what they’re studying. Therefore, in their future careers, they will be more likely to enjoy their position and make more contributions.

I have been studying in the United States for five years. When I first came to the US, I felt very nervous and helpless due to the language barrier and differences in the education system. For example, I could not reply to American’s greetings at first, because what I learned in China was different from what I heard being spoken in the US. In class, I felt uncomfortable because I really needed to join in on class discussions. However, there are many study resources here. For example, I always went to the campus writing center to get help with correcting my grammar on papers. Over time, I overcame many problems through hard work.


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