It made for some very uncomfortable viewing.
I switched on to BBC2’s new three-part series Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School and it made me sad, ashamed even, to be British.
It was painful watching as several Chinese teachers tried their hardest to teach in a secondary school in Hampshire, with little success and with scant appreciation.
Their expectations of finding eager-to-learn and well-behaved students were shattered, their formal, disciplined style of teaching mocked by those they were trying to advance.
Pupils were openly rude, challenging, and disrespectful, provoking their Chinese teachers to raise their voices and lose their cool – something that is regarded as shameful and weak in Asian culture – and even reducing one to tears.
These teachers were not sent to work in a failing school – although that still shouldn’t make any difference – but to one of the UK’s top comprehensive schools, in a prosperous commuter village.
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It is part of an experiment to test how British students would fare under the rigour, long hours and rigid discipline of the Chinese education system, given they are lagging around three years behind their Asian counterparts when it comes to education.
In China it is a given that there is respect for your elders and authority. Education is valued and knowledge prized. With no welfare state to fall back on, gaining a good education is seen as the way to get on in life, the only way to make money to provide for a future.
How different it is here in the UK.
What I found sad watching the programme was the lack of ambition and motivation of a large percentage of the children.
Learning just didn’t seem to be that high on the pupils’ agenda which made for awkward watching when most of them couldn’t keep up in the maths lessons and even struggled to grasp the concepts of English grammar.
Working Mum, fearing how pupils from the UK will compete, let alone, survive in the demanding global jobs market.