American Creativity vs. Chinese Skills

April 23, 2007 1 min read

Peng Guohui, principal of Jindao Middle School in Guangzhou, China, recently discussed his views on the differences between the Chinese and American education systems with Education Week Staff Writer Sean Cavanagh. Mr. Guohui said he was impressed by American teachers’ use of “real life” examples in class—for example, biology teachers’ incorporation of plants and simple organisms in science lessons—on a trip to the United States last year. At the same time, he was surprised to see middle-school American students lacking in basic computation skills that their Chinese peers would have mastered years earlier.

“Knowledge acquisition is the basis for creativity,” he argues.

What do you think? Do American schools focus too much on problem-solving at the expense of basic, foundational skills? Do Chinese schools focus too much on math and science at the expense of creativity? Is there a happy medium?

A version of this news article first appeared in the TalkBack blog.