Neil Macknish, Ruozi Li and Daniel Hayes shared information with Eastern Michigan University faculty and students about education in South Korea, Singapore and China at the International Scholars Panel Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.
Macknish is a visiting scholar from England who had the opportunity to teach English language and literature in Singapore. He discussed classroom conditions, discipline and educational funding.
According to Macknish, female students who have long hair are required to keep their hair in neat ponytails. Male students cannot allow hair to hang below their eyebrows. Students who disobey these rules have their hair cut off by teachers.
“There is a deliberate suppression of individuality,” Macknish said.
Macknish said over $150 million has been spent on educational research within 10 years in Singapore. Although PISA test scores are high in math and science, entrepreneurial and creative success rates are lower than desired.
“Just because you produce a nation of good test takers doesn’t mean you’re also producing students who will contribute creatively to the economy,” Macknish said.
Kristen Kulseth, a senior education major, believes students and families living in South Korea, China and Singapore have a financial advantage when it comes to education.
“The way Americans pay for education is a burden on families,” Kulseth said. “It contributes to a lot of stress and discouragement so I think it’s beneficial that the government in Korea, Singapore and
China looks at education as an investment rather than an expense.”
Li has been a college level English teacher in China for 20 years. She said the competition for academic success is intensified by China’s population, which is triple the population of the U.S.
“English isn’t an issue pertaining to education,” Li said. “It’s more so an issue that pertains to modernization. English is viewed as a tool to facilitate scientific and technological advancement in China.”
According to Li, there are over 300 million people studying English in China. Despite their efforts to learn the language, China doesn’t provide a good environment for students to practice. Regardless, students are required to take college level English courses in order to graduate.
Hayes taught English as a second language for two years in South Korea.
“Once I began teaching, I was shocked to learn about how hard students work,” he said.
Hayes said a typical Korean student’s day starts at 6 a.m. They attend school until 5 p.m. and then have a small break to eat dinner and relax their brains. After dinner, students go back to studying either at private institutions called “Hogwans” or at home for three to five hours. They conclude their days with homework and they make it to bed around 1 or 2 a.m.
Due to rigorous study schedules and pressure to succeed academically, the suicide rate is lofty for high school and college students.
“Parents typically are the competitive ones when it comes to academics,” Hayes said. “I’ve had students tell me they don’t have time to do homework so while they’re studying their parents are doing their homework for them.”
EMU student Darius Mcfadden said he likes the way families in Korea, Singapore and China view education.
“They’re not an individualistic culture like America is when it comes to learning,” Mcfadden said.
“They’re collectivist – they believe in supporting everyone academically to progress their country.”
For more information about international education, visit the Office of Urban, Community, & International Outreach located in Porter.