Is American education system better or Asian?

My friends and relatives back home in India often ask me, how is the education system in America? They also ask how American and Indian education systems are different from each other and which one is better?

This article is for all my friends who are curious to find the answer. My friend Nudrat Shahnila from Pakistan also contributed to this article and has added many interesting points.  Thanks Nudrat.

First, I go into shock because I really don’t know how to answer this question.  I haven’t been to elementary, middle and high school here. I did my Masters at the University and it is so different. I have to answer anyways so I start by giving examples of how my daughter is studying and what sort of things are emphasized in schools in US. Gradually I started to clearly understand the differences. Finally, I came to the conclusion that comparing these two education systems would be as if I am comparing apples with oranges. If I cannot compare then naturally I cannot draw a conclusion and rate one against another.
Answer: They are different and they have unique characteristics. Both are good as long as the kid is inclined to learn. 

I have seen from my experience from Indian schools:

Asian Education system:
American education system:

There is a set syllabus with heavier content that students are responsible to learn and remember

Syllabus is set but the teacher  has some liberty to decide the pace at which the schedule goes

Exams  questions are mostly short and long essays

Exams are mostly multiple choice and short response

Memorization is mandatory. When I went to school, back in 1900s, because Math was so hard for me, regurgitation helped me majorly to pass till 9th grade ;) Things might have changed now, I am not sure.

Hands-on activities and kinesthetic learning, gain priority over memorization. Education is made interesting and fun, not a responsibility. Emphasis is on application of concepts not on ability to remember theories and repeat it without looking at the text book

Competition is heavy. It acts as a motivating factor. So, parents get fewer chances to worry that kid is not studying efficiently.
Self-motivated students read more and choose the topics of their interest.  There is nothing like competition because grades are confidential

Solving math problems in a given time is part of preparation for the tests

Math is not the major part of the school curriculum but reading, comprehension, analysis, critical reasoning are broadly covered. Development of cognitive skills is the major goal of the system.

Writing comes naturally because the system is designed such. Even a 3rd grader has the ability to write a long response of 2 pages

Writing a long response is a task for my daughter.  She saves one or two lines in homework, what a saver right?
Parents start to stress out when a second grade son and 4th grade daughter have quarterly exams. Poor kid, he is not even asked how he is feeling because parent can see only the enormous syllabus that she needs to get her son prepared for the exam

The least stress for the kid and parent till 5th grade.

Creativity is encouraged
Creativity is part and parcel of every class and subject.

Nudrat Shahnila has seen from her experience from Pakistani schools:

Asian Education System
American Education System
A lot of emphasis is on strict discipline and behavioral aspect. Students are criticized for their weaknesses
Students are relatively relaxed and provided a lot of encouragement and positive feedback  for their achievement
Teacher is the authority and must be respected

Students do challenge the teacher and the teachers are very open to new ideas and ways of looking things differently
Too much emphasis on learning what is written in the text book. Students are mostly graded on the basis of how well they memorize and perform in exams
Curiosity and creativity is encouraged from the very beginning.  Students are graded on their daily performance and approach

Separate schools /classes for boys and girls. The students have very close friendship/ share activities with the same gender
Coeducation at all levels. Interest in opposite gender develops at a tender age, may lead to lowered interest in studies
Competition is higher because education is the way to get access to necessities of life and grow as a nation. Professional and white collared jobs are aspired by all for a decent living

No need of fierce competition as lot of support from the state is provided.   Dignity of labor is seen everywhere so students are not pressurized to do exceptionally well in studies in order to live a decent life
Religious education given in schools to develop moral values

Religious education cannot be given because multiple religions are equally respected without any differentiation
Less emphasis on Music/Physical education (PE)
Music/PE are given importance
There are different medium of instruction such as local Urdu medium or Hindi medium,  and there is a stark contrast between the quality of education given at public and a expensive private schools 
Medium of education is the same so the students are almost at the same level.  The private schools are not very common and not much striking difference between the education systems


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