Differences in Education

Posted by Alex Kelsey-Ramos on 5/16/2018


            As my American classmates and I approach our final weeks as students at the Jingshan School, the weather is now consistently warmer and everybody is spending more time outdoors. Recently, what students seem to be most excited about is the upcoming basketball tournament. Although, the Jingshan students always seemed excited to play basketball during our hour and a half lunch break, I now notice that everybody is more competitive and serious when playing than before. Unlike Newton North, where students can enjoy an endless amount of different sports and activities, The Jingshan School seems to be obsessed with basketball. It’s the main activity that brings (mainly middle and high school) students together; and is enjoyed to varying degrees by almost everybody at the school.

            A pattern that I have noticed from Jingshan students is a kinship that they all feel towards each other. This is probably due to students staying in the same class throughout the entire day, while their teachers are the ones who rotate between classes. Although, some students may jump or fall in the level of their class when advancing to the next grade, and others may transfer into the Jingshan School from other schools and vice versa, the makeup of each class seems to stay relatively consistent through kindergarten to twelfth grade. The Jingshan school also utilizes other strategies to bring students together. One way that they do this is by mandating students to wear a school uniform. This helps students feel more equal and comfortable with their classmates. Students all wearing the same uniform do not have to worry about issues such as income inequality and other social divisions affecting their clothing and how they’re treated by their peers. This all encourages students to feel more safe and comfortable at school, so they can focus more on academics.

            This attitude of unity that is encouraged by the Jingshan School seems to be more heavily emphasized than at Newton North. Back in Newton, students are encouraged to be more individualistic and school life is less regulated. This allows students to take more classes about the particular things that interests them such as art, music, cooking...etc. They can also participate in a larger array of clubs and sports that a more conformist school might not offer. However, it can leave students overwhelmed without the feeling of structure and order that the Jingshan School offers. This overwhelming feeling could negatively affect students who are not encouraged to work hard academically outside of school the most. Since, without being pushed by the school and their classmates to follow a certain path, these students could continue to fall behind their classmates until they cannot even understand the subject that they are learning about. However, having a less structures environment can lead to students who are individually motivated and goal orientated to succeed and prosper.

            This difference in the attitude of the Jingshan School and that of Newton North displays a difference in what each culture values. The Jingshan School encourages students to conform to certain behavioral and academic expectations. While, Newton North allows students to create their own path. Directing and controlling the path and behavior of students may lead to those who feel that they are the odd one out having a much harder time getting along with their peers. However, too much freedom may lead to a feeling of overwhelmingness and allow some students to fall behind their peers. Both of these systems have their advantages and disadvantages, but mainly draw attention to the differences in what Chinese and American culture value.