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The Western educational philosophy is different from the Chinese all the time. Educational philosophy can affect the cognitive development of children. The purpose of this paper is to outline what we know about the impact of different educational philosophies to children.
Table of content
Jean Piaget was one of the most famous scholars in the developmental psychology during the 20th century and he is the major force in the building the field - theory of cognitive development (Huitt, W. and Hummel, J, 2003). His theory deals with the nature of knowledge and how people start gradually to acquire it, absorb it, and use it. Knowledge arises in an individual mind when that person gets in touch with an idea and experience. Education is the most general way which can bring knowledge to people. The nature and function of education can affect the cognitive development of children. Many theories have been proposed over the years to reveal the cognitive development changes that children undergo over the process of education. The central purpose of education should be to teach a child to grow up by developing his independent opinion and training him to deal with reality. In china, the educational ideas concentrate on acquiring knowledge. The Western educational ideas refer more to make use of knowledge. The cognitive development of children can be changes by different educational philosophies.
This paper is divided into three sections to analyze impact of different educational philosophies to children. In the first section, the educational philosophies in the West and china are introduced and compared in two aspects. Section two focuses on the effect of educational philosophies to the cognitive development of children. The last section relates to the conclusion of the whole paper.
2.0 Different Educational Philosophies in the West and China
2.1 School Education
Though the policy and practice of school education of china have changed in response to the political and economic reformations (Wai-Chung, 2006), the traditional Chinese culture and values affect the educational philosophy to a large extend as before. The Western education ideas are uncontrolled and creative, while the Chinese ideas are rigid and conservative. In the West, the education system uses student-centered classes. While the Chinese use teacher-centered classes. Teacher is the only authority in class. Students are required to button up their mouths and not expected to question what the teacher said. Thus, the students lack the enthusiasm to be active and inquisitive. Students in the West, on the contrary, take part more in class compared to the Chinese students. There are groups for students to discuss and they are encouraged to express ideas, which are meaningful and resultful. Under this circumstance, students give their ears to other's opinions, which make them not only get knowledge from the teacher, but also their partners.
Chinese teachers focus mainly on book learning and mechanical memorizing. Test score is the only pointer of the mastery of knowledge. Teachers often ask the students to rush through the textbooks to accomplish the every examination. Hence, students learn knowledge by memorizing cultural course on the textbooks, which are always forgotten just after the exam. Due to the lack of understanding the knowledge results in the demand of cram schools. As a result, many students put too much time on the cram schools rather than make effective use of time in class. The Western students have a slower speed of learning. Teachers hope they can understand the content in books better and deeper by discussion and group work. Students are often given assignments in the format of a project or paper and must have to do research by their own.
Besides, students are forced to be coincident. There are lots of school rules to follow, for example, no makeup and nail polish on school days and wear the school uniform every day. Teachers think students should adopt correct attitude towards study in order to learn a course well. Any action which is out of conformity is regarded as rebellion and will be criticized and prohibited. Unlike the Chinese education system, individuality is esteemed. .
2.2 Family Education
The contents of Western family education are pretty colorful. Western parents pay more attention to their children's all-round study, which includes physical strength, social ability, emotion, intelligence and cognition. In China, intelligence is the most important content of family education. The contents of education in Chinese family are lack of balance. Before school education, parents make children to learn reading, writing and counting. When the children start their school education, parents supervise the children's study, and check their homework. Chinese parents also think highly of art education. So they ask their children to learning drawing, piano, dancing regardless of whether their children are interest in them. The Western parents often encourage their children to learn what they want to learn, no matter what profit can be brought to their children.
The target of Western family education is to train their children into a social man, who can deal with all kinds of trouble by themselves. So the Western parents have a light attitude to the performance of their children in school. Children in the West learn to earn money when they are young. For example, they can do house cleaning and send newspaper. It is very common for children to earn money by doing part-time job when they go to senior high school or university. Chinese family just concern about the study of children because they hope the children can become a talent or have a bright future. Their claim to the children is just to put all their attention to study. Although Chinese children study very hard and can get good achievements, they lack of abilities to suit to the society.
Effect of Different Educational Philosophies to Children
Cognition development works on how children learn and deal with information. It should be said that cognition is the process of how the thinking and organizing systems form in children's mind. It involves thinking, reasoning, mental growth, and memorizing. Children can actively construct their cognitive world by the information from education. In return, education to children can affect the cognition development. In education process, there should not be collecting information and knowledge which are piled up in the head of children. Education should make people have the ability to think, create and innovate on account of the perspective of the knowledge. John Dewey (1897) said that education was the elementary way of social progress and reform. The ultimate aim of education should be the force which can help a child be a social man.
3.1 Effect to Thinking
Western education emphasizes more on the thinking skills than Chinese. Due to the different school education in the West and China, the Western students are good at learning individually by thinking while the Chinese students are clever at learning books. In the view of Piaget (1983), knowing more information is not able to advance the child's thinking. How to reflect on learning is the first skill for children to handle when they begin school education. It is necessary for them to connect new knowledge to old knowledge, to distinguish what is true and real, and to question what is inaccurate and fake by thinking. Researchers (Bransford et al., 2000) find that children develop their meta-cognition very early by own the ability to think how to plan and monitor their success. Children' focus on questions gives them the ability to think, explain and eventually even to solve events within their every life. They are energetically getting involved in understanding their world. So the Western students can think on their own and the intelligence is at their best to solve problems and puzzles presented to them in society. Then they have the attitude that they should not follow the other's methods and learn from them, as thinking is the best way to solve questions. Lipman (2003) suggests that school education without thinking restrains the natural curiosity and enthusiasm of children. That is what happens on the Chinese student. They take all the knowledge from school or family without question because the teacher-centered system makes them lose the ability of thinking on their own. The stress from adults lead to impaired cognition of them and the fear of exam brings about the physical deterioration of memorizing. They mechanically finish homework instead of keep curious to knowledge.
3.2 Effect to Reasoning
Reasoning is thought to be one of the highest forms mental activities. Reasoning is a semantic process of envisaging possibilities which is consistent with the meanings of knowledge (Johnson-Laird, P.N, 2006). The ability of reasoning has an important impact on the children's ability to learn knowledge because reasoning skills determine the way how people understand, appraise and take in different ideas and contentions. Guiding is the main concept of education wildly used in western countries, which is called student-centered classes. In the student-centered classes, students are free to speak up or respond to the questions that asked by the teacher. This system makes the student have the motivation to question and then reasoning their ideas from doubts. But the Chinese lack the ability of reasoning because their just have the ability to read textbooks and finish the exams. Teachers in china have tried to train students to analyze and organize knowledge they receive recently, the pressure of exams still forces them to ignore this, since memorizing knowledge is the only way to win in exam.
In the research of Ates S and Cataloglu E (2007), there are 165 freshmen are selected to find the effects of students' reasoning abilities on conceptual understandings and problem-solving skills in introductory mechanics. Data was collected during the fall semesters in two successive years. At the beginning of each semester, the force concept inventory (FCI) and the classroom test of scientific reasoning (CTSR) were carried out to test students' initial understanding of basic concepts in mechanics and reasoning levels. After completing the course, the researchers administered the FCI and the mechanics baseline test (MBT). The results showed that there was no significant difference in conceptual understanding in mean scores between students. While the problem-solving skills tested by MBT are showing significant difference. That is to say, good reasoning can improve the problem-solving skills of children. That wat is scarce among Chinese students.
People do not think in the same way, and personality may affect the way people reasoning. On the contrary, good reasoning can affect personality. A person who is good at reasoning could be calm and steady when he comes across emergency. By reasoning, he can think back the experience of the others and decide how to figure out troubles according to his own ability. So western children can keep clam when they run into troubles. However, the Chinese are weak at reasoning and lack the ability to handle infrequent events. They are unable to connect the knowledge on textbooks to reality and out of the society because the "diploma-education".
3.3 Effect to Mental Growth
Locke thinks that school education should be able to take into consideration of the children's age group and their natural interest (Locke, 1994). The Chinese parents lay emphasis on social enlightenment, ignore the growth of children. On the development of cognition, the western parents practice children's sense organs develop the culture view and hobby of children. They teach the children to enjoy music and art for the development of emotion, while the Chinese parents request their children to learn drawing, dancing and singing for they think these professional skills maybe bring profit to the future of children. It is a blind action which can kill the talent and bring in mental stress to children. By comparison, the western education is more scientific to the development of mentality to children.
Chinese parents always think physical is less important than intelligence. In physical, they do not focus on the outdoor exercise but on the nutrition. They do their best to prevent their children from diseases and ignore the truth that play and exercise can train a child strong. Health body can promote the development of intelligence. Researchers said that physical activity could profit cognitive functions and balance and reduce the risk of mental mistakes as an important non-pharmacological approach (Salma, 2010). Due to the distance from outside, Chinese children also lost the opportunity to communicate with other children in society. So many Chinese children are mentally reluctant to make new friends with strangers for the lack of communicative skill. Even though, the close psychology can lead to unsocial character. The western education's aim is to train the children to be the member of society. So the western children are more optimistic and confident in spirit.
The requirement from parents to children is study in china. Hence, parents would like to satisfy all the demands from children as long as they woke hard on study. It is the reason why there are so indulgent children in china. These children can not take care of themselves but also indulge in emotions. Narita (2010) of Gunma University found that overprotective parents can slow the mental growth of kids. The research was conducted during fifty people in their 20s and asked them to fill out a survey about the relationship of their parents. The result shows that kids with overprotective parents had less grey matter in a particular area of the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex develops during childhood and the deformity of it can result in schizophrenia and other mental illness.
3.4 Effect to Memorizing
The truth of memory is practicing and understanding. Hermann (2003) found that reading literature was an effective means of helping adult learners learn English as a second language. This research indicates that, "although rote memorization is more effective for developing a short-term word stock (as might be needed for an upcoming test), reading literature is at least as effective as--and perhaps is more effective than--rote memorization for the purpose of promoting longer-term lexical retention. " The reason of this result is that reading literature deepened the practicing of using language and the understanding of words and phrases in books. Chinese students are good at memorizing which is temporary. They are just memorizing by reading words on books over and over again. Hence, students learn by memorizing knowledge, which is forgotten quickly after the exam passed, rather than understanding the knowledge and using it. But the western education ideas take a much more relaxed way of memorizing knowledge. This promotes students to understand the contents which they learn better and deeper. And then they can proficiently take hold of the knowledge and use it to create anything they are interesting in. that is why there are so more people win the Nobel Prize in the western countries than in china.
Children's character and destiny are strongly connected to the education. This paper is comparing the different education philosophies between China and the West. Chinese education and Western education have their own characteristics. Chinese emphasizes foundational knowledge whereas Western thinks highly of creativeness. Furthermore, Western education has its disadvantage either. For example, because of light control, children may refuse to comply with their so that a lot of social problems occur. Due to the relaxed attitude to learning, the children in the west pay too much attention on happy learning. But the truth is that happy learning is just workable when the children are young. The redundant happiness can just lower the ability of learning to teen-agers.
All in all, there are many different between Chinese and Western education philosophies and each has its strengths and weaknesses. The Western education ideas are much more suitable for a child to integrate into the quickly changing society.