China is not that far off when it comes to education

China is not that far off when it comes to education

When it comes to students’ performance, particularly in maths, China is far outstripping most of the world.

And I think we can learn a lot from them – both the good and the not so good.

It came as no surprise to me when five teachers from China, who attempted an ultra-strict 12-hour teaching day at a UK school, came away shocked at the behaviour and standards displayed by the pupils.

Our culture is very different from theirs but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn a thing or two from them.

I believe we are fundamentally letting our children down by not instilling systems and methods for their learning at primary school.

Yes, children can and should learn from play, but what very young children also need are more techniques and a solid, easy to understand system in their learning – particularly in maths and English.

If a child leaves primary school unable to understand and grasp the basics of these core subjects then they are simply going to flounder at secondary school and may never catch up.

This is what the Chinese and other Far Eastern cultures are excellent at – giving children the grounding in the techniques of learning from an early age, so students are well equipped to tackle subjects as they get more complicated.

It’s not the fault of our primary school teachers – they are very hard-working, dedicated individuals.

The fault lies in the progressive teaching methodologies, in a culture where learning isn’t valued.

I really don’t want us to go too far the other way and create a generation of automatons. I passionately believe in learning from play and creative thinking. We do, after all, need to nurture children into becoming well-rounded grown-ups.

But before we give children at school a ‘free-for-all’, let’s take at least one leaf from the Chinese book of learning – and that is to make sure children have a basic grasp of fundamental skills. That can only be achieved by teaching the basics in a traditional way so children are prepared for a more exploratory approach as they develop.