This is the first in a series of articles I will be posting looking at how education differs in these countries.
“We are not as powerful as we used to be because over the past three decades, the Asian values of our parents’ generation — work hard, study, save, invest, live within your means — have given way to subprime values: “You can have the American dream — a house — with no money down and no payments for two years.” Thomas Friedman, 2010
For most of the twentieth century, the United States (US) and other Western countries dominated the world in academic achievement and economic power. In the last few decades, however, other countries, such as Japan, China and India, demonstrated an ability to compete with and even surpass the US in these arenas. For example the municipal of Shanghai, Hong-Kong China and Japan scored much higher than the US on the most recent Programme for International Student Assessment scores (PISA), an international test which measures cognitive abilities linked with educational outcomes. And while the US still has the most Global Fortune 500 Companies, Japan and China now rank number two and three (Fortune, 2011). A recent report by the Economist (2010) found that the emerging countries of China, India and Brazil are becoming more innovative and growing economically faster than Japan did after World War 2.
As a result of this kind of competition, U.S. policy makers and educators spent many years examining and comparing our education system to other countries. Today, government agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education offer millions in dollars to schools and students who can demonstrate excellence in Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics (STEM). Although an investment in education is essential and needed, other important ecological-cultural forces that inform how a nation raises its youth should also be considered (Weisner, 2002). Embedded in the socialization practices of these other countries is a focus on academics and achievement, as well as other differences in instructional and home environments.
This is the first in a series of articles where I will look at some facts about education and parenting in these countries, first India, then Japan and then China.