‘Culture, not just curriculum’, determines east Asian school success

Oct 9, 2014 by

A new study has cast doubt on the current enthusiasm in the west for copying teaching methods in China and South Korea, where children score highly in international tests, suggesting that cultural factors beyond school also play a part in their success.

Politicians and policymakers from the west, where children gain lower marks, are avidly studying the education systems of those countries that regularly top the Pisa international league tables in the hope of emulating their achievement.

But a new study from the Institute of Education (IoE) at the University of London concludes that the children of immigrants from these countries when educated elsewhere continue to score just as highly within no-better-than-average school systems.

The study, by Dr John Jerrim, reader in education and social statistics at the IoE, found that children of immigrants from high-achieving east Asian countries are still two-and-a-half years ahead of their western peers by the time they are 15, even when they are educated alongside them in western-style schools.

Jerrim studied the performance of more than 14,000 Australian schoolchildren who took the 2012 Pisa maths test, set by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and found that second-generation immigrants from east Asia, who were mostly of Chinese origin, scored on average 605 points – 102 points more than Australian-born citizens.

Their results were only beaten by the Shanghai region of China, which came out top in the Pisa rankings. By contrast, second-generation immigrants in Australia from the UK scored 512 in the Pisa maths test. In England, children of Chinese origin have the highest GCSE scores of any ethnic group – last year, 78% gained at least five A*-C GCSEs, compared with a national average of 60%.

The UK, in common with other countries, has been keen to learn from the success of Asian education systems. In July, the Department for Education (DfE) announced an £11m initiative to bring 50 Shanghai maths teachers to England this year to help raise standards. The Chinese teachers will provide masterclasses in 32 “maths hubs”, which will form a network of centres of excellence across England.

via ‘Culture, not just curriculum’, determines east Asian school success | World news | The Guardian.

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