Influence of Asian Concepts on American Education

Alan Dyer
November 20, 2007

Students in East Asian countries are expected to take multiple courses in mathematics and sciences each year. Lots of pressure, including longer hours and often school on Saturday, is put on students to excel. Despite these higher pressures, contrary to popular belief, suicide rates are higher for U.S. school age youth than in their East Asian counterparts.


Influence of Asian Concepts on American Education

This report will focus on the influence of Asian concepts on American education. It is important to investigate Asian education concepts because Asian countries have consistently out preformed U.S. students international test results. U.S. eighth-graders were outperformed b y students in nine countries including five Asian countries - Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Korea, and Singapore (National Center for Education Statistics, n.d.). When researching how to best revise math curriculum in Georgia state educators looked to Japan for direction because Japanese students scored high in international testing (Galley, 2004). What they discovered and decided to implement is what they call an integrated approach. As explained by Carolyn Baldree:

Georgia educators found the Japanese curriculum model appealing for its coherence, said Carolyn Baldree, a mathematics education program specialist with the state education department. Instead of separating algebra from chemistry and so forth, Japanese teachers introduce concepts in the same class. As students progress through the grades, their math lessons build on what they have previously learned, she explained. (Galley, 2004)

In the article titled American High Schools can be World Class the authors point to high expectations for students and hard work in studies as cultural ethics that lead to student success in education in East Asian countries. Students in East Asian countries are expected to take multiple courses in mathematics and sciences each year. Lots of pressure, including longer hours and often school on Saturday, is put on students to excel. Despite these higher pressures, contrary to popular belief, suicide rates are higher for U.S. school age youth than in their East Asian counterparts (Chalker, Haynes & Smith, 1999). Exact figures are shocking, America has the highest childhood suicide rate of any developed nation. In a study of 26 countries the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports “The suicide rate for children in the United States was two times higher than that in the other 25 countries combined.” (CDC, 1997).

In terms of educational dollars South Korea has taken over as the world leader in educational spending and as a consequence has reaped huge educational rewards. Andrew Trotter reports, “South Korea leads the world in investment in education as a percentage of gross domestic product, and it appears to have overtaken the United States and many other wealthy nations in key measures of educational quality” (Trotter, 2003).

The Center for the Study of Mathematics Curriculum, based at the University of Missouri-Columbia, held a conference to study international math issues that included representatives from China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. Although these countries often have dissimilar approaches to the subject they all have made high international gains in student achievement. Among finds are that Singapore and South Korean students send extra time studying outside of everyday lessons and school curriculum (Cavanagh, 2005).

The constantly high test scores in international testing by Asian students in mathematics and science have caught the attention of American educators. It is evident that there is not a single technique or extraordinary intelligence that helps to produce these results but rather a high value placed on education by society, parents and students themselves that motivate students to excel in their studies. If American students are too keep up we must create a cultural change in America to place a higher value on academic achievement and hold up high standards. All that is required is the will to succeed. Where there is a will and desire results will follow.

References

Cavanagh. (2005). International forum examines Asian nations' math strategies. Education Week, 25(14), Retrieved November 4, 2007, from EBSCO database.

CDC. (1997). Rates of homicide, suicide, and firearm-related death among children -- 26 industrialized countries. Retrieved February 29, 2008 from http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/preview/mmwrhtml/00046149.htm

Chalker, Haynes & Smith. (1999). American high schools can be world class. Clearing House, 72(3), Retrieved November 4, 2007, from EBSCO database.

Galley. (2004). Georgia reaches out to japan for math-curriculum model. Education Week, 23(27), Retrieved November 3, 2007, from EBSCO database.

National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). Highlights From the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2003. Retrieved November 3, 2007 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/timss03/math1.asp

Trotter. (2003). S. Korea tops U.S. in key education ratings. Education Week, 23(4), Retrieved November 4, 2007, from EBSCO database.