Is it a coicidence that Asian countries (like Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan) get top math and science scores in TIMISS and the top education systems in the world were all in Asian regions like Hong Kong, South Korea, Shanghai and Singapore? Is there a reason for Asians very high SAT scores or why the top five nations by IQ just happens to be Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore? Does learning to read and write 400,000 pictoral symbols as a young child ( as the Chinese do) affect math reasoning and IQ?
"American 15 -year olds ranked 25th in math and 21st in science when compared to nations around the world" Obama
"Chinese parents will sacrifice almost anything for their child's
education. They realize firsthand, "History is a race between education
and catastrophe," as H.G. Wells put it. In China, the disposable income
of middle-class families is more likely to be spent on education than
leisure or entertainment." William Bennet
According to TIMSS report ( the gold standard comparing countries education) American students are very low in 4th grade, by 8th grade, USA students are in the bottom third, and at the finish line, the U.S. is near dead last. Is it the "Tiger Mother" approach that makes a difference ( made famous by a Yale Law professor)? I think most Chinese attribute their success on tests like SAT's etc., more based on cultural values where hard work, sacrifice, good work habits and education are stressed.
My child's Mandarin school in Malaysia is on a totally different schedule than the USA, ( doing a January to November school year), so this week she has finals and the school year is about to end. We are particularly thrilled about how well she is doing in Algebra considering she is the youngest in the class by years, it is taught only in advanced Mandarin and she is the only Caucasian in this gifted class. She has been doing Algebra for a while, but this is at a more advanced level and the physics is fun for her ( supplemented at home in English)
She enjoys math and science and they have always been easy for her ( thankfully Dad teachers that one since he is a math whiz too and we've always taught it in an Asian manner using Singpore math. It was my research that found the Singapore option when she was 3 and it suits her learning style of not needing lots of repetition and easy to travel with).
We've always done private tuturing to some extent with her for things like mulitlingual language learning and music instruments, but the private tutoring in Asia is very different. Almost all the kids do them regularly starting from first grade or earlier. Tutors can come to your home, or do it with teachers after school or go to a "tuition" school after school or on weekends. We've done all three options here ( almost all just for Mandarin as it is a tough language to master the writing well). The prices here are excellent for tutoring and most of the teachers are quite good.
Last semester we gave her extra tutoring in all subjects lke physics, biology, Algebra etc, just to keep up with the advanced Mandarin, but we soon found that just too much for our family. This semester we went back to just Mandarin tutoring 2 times a week after school and Saturday music classes in piano, violin, voice and digital composing ( subjects she enjoys).
I don't always agree with the ways the Chinese educate, but I do like the Asian focus about valuing education so much. I am glad Mozart has been able to experience the pros and cons of this system as that alone, teaches one much about the culture. It reminds me of the sign at her Mandarin school that she sees every day " Be the best, beat the rest". We often have great discussions about the cultural differences and comparing the pros and cons of different ways of thinking and educating.
In his book, Gladwell had some interesting theories about why Asians do so well in math and part of it seems to be connected to the language. One interesting study showed that perhaps learning Mandarin writing affected IQ as Chinese students had a 5 to 7 point advantage over western kids that seems to come from superior visual/spatial skills that comes with learning to read and write Chinese.
"Our findings support the assumption that reading and writing systems are powerful methods for influencing the developent of mental abilities, and perhaps brain growth, in individuals and in cultures. " Demetriou
I am not sure if I believe any of these theories, but they are thought-provoking and lead me to think there might be some credance to more benefits of language learning that goes beyond just learning the language and the culture. I am not sure I would want her in this system as a young child, or her whole life, but it's been very interesting for her to experience it at this age and I think also good for an unschooled free spirit to learn and get a taste of the "game of school'", competition, grades, testing etc. before college.
Mozart, like her father ( and the engineers and architects on both sides of our family) has always had exceptional spatial skills ( remember that exceptional puzzle mastery before two) so perhaps that is why math and Mandarin writing are fairly easy for her. Both she and her father can do so much more complicated math in their heads that I can, partly because of those spatial skills.
What do you think about tutors? Have you used tutors before or do you privately tutor your child during some homeschooling or afterschooling? What do you see as the weaknesses in an Asian education? What can we all learn from Asian education? What would the ideal look like? How much parental and cultural influence is in play?