China tops 2012 PISA test rankings, so why aren't they celebrating?
PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment, a branch of the OEDC) tests students around the world every 3 years. Canada's decline in mathematics on the latest PISA Test (2012) has caused educators here in Canada to sound the alarm bells. And with China's stellar performance, one would think that they would be celebrating. But, they're not. Instead, they are looking to the West to inspire their own education reforms (in particular the American Advance Placement model).
North American private schools, such as Hamilton's Columbia International College, offer Chinese students skills that are currently not nurtured back in China. Two of the central difference between the two systems, is that in the West we stress critical and creative thinking, whereas Chinese schools stress fundamentals and memorization. This approach, along with 18 hour days, allow Chinese students to be strong test takers, but unable to think outside the box and to innovate.
The difference in these approaches has implications for future economic growth. As labour becomes more expensive in China, it will need to create higher value products in order to maintain its high rate of economic growth, and that will require China to innovate. Just copying products that others invent will not suffice. It will require China's future thinkers to abandon their conformist mindset and begin to think more creatively and really invent NEW products. The United States has produced many creative innovators over the years, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs being two the more recognizable. In the decades to come, we wonder if the world's next great innovator will be Chinese, or if he will be yet another American. The Government of China hope that he (or she) will be Chinese.