Wednesday, April 25, 2007

News: Global Education - A Counter-Intuitive Lesson


There's a BBC blurb out about the standards of higher education in the UK and China. They even include a sample question from both countries; China's entrance exam question is far more complex than the UK's first-year undergrad question.

At first glance, you might think the deadly Chinese brain trust is going to wipe out Western civilization. How powerful must Chinese universities be, if they expect incoming students to reason like that!

Looking at the issue closer, I think there's a deeper message present. China, for all its massive development, has to give fairly difficult problems in its entrance exam because the competition for entrance into universities is a bloodbath - there simply aren't enough colleges in China to service its population of 1.3 billion. The Chinese problem, while certainly requiring greater reasoning and knowledge, doesn't seem to apply to anyone working in the real world (my Dad's been a structural engineer for thirty years and all the math he uses in his daily job is basic algebra and trig).

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