Another Take on Differences of Education between China and U.S.

My former 38 Chinese students continue to amaze me.  One was recently having trouble with Amazon.com, she claimed she HATED it. What she thought she ordered was a brand new book but it had a broken spine and obviously used.  She ranted to me by instant messaging, “I’m not blind, I can tell this is not a new book.”  I advised her to write to the seller at Amazon and register her complaint.  She should get her money back but I told her she has to be assertive and proactive.  This happened within two months of their arrival to the U.S., she will learn she has to take action.

Here is another student’s thoughts on the differences between education in China and the U.S. Read yesterday’s blog that is similar:

Professor-Student Relationships

“Becoming an International students in US university,I am really concerned about how to have good performance in my academic career. It seems like there are many things I should pay attention to, and one of the most important point is the Professor-Student relationships in an American university.

As my small research through my high school classmates who study abroad, many of them are confused about how to have good relationships with their professors. Gary Althen(2011) answered the question that why this relationship complicated with the following analysis, “Differing ideas about formality and respect frequently complicate relationships between American professors and students from abroad, especially Asian students (and most especially female Asian students).” International students’ confusion can focus on one behavior, that is, showing respect.

My Chinese friend, April, a student in College of William and Mary, made a “joke” these days. She contacted with her professor through E-mail and one day her professor told her that she can be more relaxed in communication with him. She felt perplexed. After showing me the E-mails, I found that she wrote “Thank you very much, professor” eleven times in just one E-mail! April said she really want to show her respect and thankfulness to the professor, but maybe professor thought it could be a little strange.

Actually, according to my 2-week-experience in my Communication, Media, and Rhetoric class, it could be quite different of relationship of professors and students between China and America. I think this may result from learning styles and teaching styles which was explained by Martin(2011) that,” The culture clash over learning styles (the different ways that students learn in different cultures) and teaching styles (the styles that instructors use to teach) is common as students increasingly travel to study in other cultures.” In China, learning and teaching style is more inflexible that students often need to sit quietly and receive knowledge which instructors give without asking or challenging the material and professor may become uncomfortable because of students’ interruption so the relationship between professor and students is likely to be unequal in class. That means, a professor gets power and a student should have high regard for professor. But in America, as I know, there is a style that students and professor can be put at the same position to have a discussion in every class about the topic. It is welcome for students to have objections and other opinions and this style leads to a more friendly relationship in which professors can be regarded as an old and intelligent friend.

Many Chinese students are afraid of being impolite and disrespectful maybe because of the relationship they have experienced in China. But, their behavior is not a good way to improve the relationship between them and their American professor. They feel odd to call professor’s first name instead of Doctor and his or her last name (Some professors may not want their students to do that, it depends on the American.) or to raise your hand to show your different view in class, and even to shout out the answer the professor needs. Effectively, these are behaviors many professors are glad to see their students show.

Finally, I would like to point out that I did surveys of my friends who are older than me and have been studying for several years in American universities. I appreciated seeing that most of them can adapt to their new environment, be confident and active in classes, and keep a good relationship of their professors.”

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