Grim Evidence of Teaching to Tests (not only in China)

5 July, 2012
Classroom of students hooked up to intravenous drips in Hubei Province (China)                   © Source:

The following text is an excerpt from one of the comments posted in The Wall Street Journal – China:

As an American English teacher at a university in Guangxi, China, it’s heartbreaking to see the effects of the gaokao. Critical thinking skills have been neutered, the ability to work well in groups has atrophied, and the problem-solving approaches that China’s next generation will need to solve its challenges are rejected in favor of lectures and drilling memorized textbook data into the heads of children who have lost the love of learning that is inherent in every child. My students universally hate the gaokao, not just because of its difficulty, but because everyone knows the negative influence it has on students’ minds …
It was not until I came to China that I truly appreciated the education, whatever its issues, I received in the US. I worry about recent trends toward test-based education in the States, championed by those who point at Chinese test scores in science and math and urge us to follow in their footsteps. Whatever reforms that the US educational system requires, it’s important to remember that for those high scores, there’s a heavy price paid.


As The New York Times explains in its article, an example of the “heavy price” mentioned by the teacher in the comment above is captured in the grim image above:

However, related practices are observed as well in the USA, where increasing numbers of students take stimulants (nicknamed as smart pills) in order to improve their performance during the long sessions of studying and preparation for tests. These are prescription-only drugs, but resourceful young people manage to get them anyway.


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