Greetings and welcome to the first television review since I have been sick and this week I have a new documentary from the BBC called ‘Are our kids tough enough?’ a show which documents a experiment in which Chinese teachers use the Chinese education methods to teach British students. An interesting premise given the relative state of both the Chinese and British education systems, essentially its a cultural clash of two very different approaches to education. Unlike the cut and paste documentaries on banks, bookies and post offices this show has a different feel to it, using fixed cameras in the classroom and following the teachers and students as they adapt or not to the new style of school. The first major change the kids face is the long days (12 hours) starting at 7am must be a wake up call for our babied kids. The cultural differences are apparent straight away in China respect for your elders and teachers means kids pay attention in class and wouldn’t dream of talking back to the teacher no such luck over here.
The teaching by rote method applied by the Chinese system is focused on giving the students the information which they are then expected to copy down and memorise, which is asking a lot of our limited attention span children. As it happens in secondary school I had a Chinese maths teacher who taught using the British method but was a strict disciplinarian much like Yang Jun and brought back some less than happy memories of my own school days. After finding that the British kids need constant supervision to stop them from being distracted the maths teacher Zou Hailian and the others get together to think of ways to fully immerse them in Chinese culture and give them the full experience. The morning exercise routine seems to be a hit with both the students and the head teacher who makes surprise visits to the Chinese school to see how things are going.
After much deliberation and talk the teachers decide to institute the class council system of students that operates in China hoping that this will bring some order to the classrooms and make students take some responsibility for there own education, This show is excellent providing a fascinating insight into the Chinese education system and answering many questions as to why British children are among the lowest achieving in educational terms in the developed world, possibly my favourite bit is when Yang Jun drops this bomb on the children much to there indignation despite it’s obvious truth. If you have ever wondered how tough life is for a Chinese child then this will go some way to explaining it or if you enjoy watching our feckless children fail miserably then you’ll enjoy this show, in conclusion this is exciting break from the seemingly endless banks, bookies, post office documentaries with characters whom it is easy to empathise with mainly the teachers in my view the kids get everything they deserve. Well that’s about it for this week I’m off to clean my office after a twelve hour day.