Pupils face TV challenge of Chinese-style classes

The Chinese teachers were less than impressed by the attitude and behaviour of the UK pupils. Picture: BBC
The Chinese teachers were less than impressed by the attitude and behaviour of the UK pupils. Picture: BBC
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A GROUP of Chinese teachers brought in to the British school system for a reality TV show found pupils to be disruptive, rude and idle.

The instructors took part in the experiment to see if pupils could deal with harsher teaching methods used in China.

We have one standard; you survive or you die

Teacher Yang Jun

Fifty children aged 13 to 14 from Bohunt School in Liphook, Hampshire, were taught by five Chinese teachers. The rest continued with their normal programme and usual teachers for four weeks.

Results at the end, from tests in maths, science and Mandarin, will be revealed on the BBC2 documentary Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School, which begins tomorrow.

Statistics from the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (OEDC) and scores in 2012 found Shanghai mathematics results to be three years ahead of those in the UK.

But one pupil was thrown out of class after she claimed the teacher was rude for suggesting British pupils were behind those in China.

Yang Jun, a UK-based but China-qualified science teacher who took part in the show, was also stunned when a girl fled class weeping after finding out Zayn Malik had quit the band One Direction. Another pupil brought cups of tea to lessons.

He said: “We are learning classroom management skills. In China, we don’t need classroom management skills because everyone is disciplined by nature, by families, by… society. Whereas here that is the most challenging part of teaching.

“You have different sylabbuses to suit different students’ ability. We don’t. We have one syllabus, one standard; you survive or you die. It’s up to you.”

Chinese teaching involves 12-hour school days and is mostly teacher-led, with Shanghai’s Pisa scores top in the world. The UK is at 26th, 20th and 23rd place in maths, science and reading.

Another teacher, Li Aiyun, who teaches at Nanjing Foreign Language School in China, said pupils would not pay attention.

She said: “Some students were chatting, some students were eating, somebody was even putting make-up on her face. I had to control myself, or I would be crazy. About half of them tried their best to follow me. And the other half? Who knows what they were doing.”

Chinese PE drove two pupils to tears with its competitive nature and Mandarin teacher Wei Zhao, who taught for 14 years in Communist China, claimed the benefits system contributed to the problem.

He said: “Even if [English pupils] din’t work, they can get money, they don’t worry about it. But in China they can’t get these things so they know, ‘I need to study hard, I need to work hard to get money to support my family’.

“If they [the British government] really cut benefit down [to] force people to go to work, they might see things in a different way.”

The BBC admitted the programme does not claim to be scientific and there may have been a “difference of opinion” on the final test results.