In a recent article, educators from the United Kingdom reported that the reason Chinese children perform so well is that Chinese teachers use a direct instructional method instead of a inquiry learning model. Chinese children are known to have great success of international test. The Chinese teachers have an advantage because of the positive relationship that exist between teachers and students.

The international test that the Chinese perform so well on are the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).

The PISA is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students’ reading, mathematics, and science literacy. In the US it is more than likely that 8th grade students take this assessment. PISA also measures problem solving while emphasizing functional skills. One of the China, Shanghai, was the top performer in reading, mathematics, and science. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) provides reliable and timely data on the mathematics and science achievement of U.S. TIMSS is used to compare over time the mathematics and science knowledge and skills of fourth- and eighth-graders. East Asian countries which include Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Chinese Taipei and Japan, lead the world at 4th and 8th grade mathematics. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international comparative study of the reading literacy of young students. PIRLS studies the reading achievement and reading behaviors and attitudes of 4th-grade students in the United States and students in the equivalent of 4th grade in other participating countries.

Even though the Chinese are outperforming American children in reading and mathematics there are circumstances that are not explained. For example, teachers in China are given more respect than teachers in the U.S. Teachers in China do not pay taxes on their salary, and they receive their own national holiday, which is September 29th. Teachers in China are compared with doctors while teachers in the United States are compared with librarians.

In order to get respect, teachers in the US use an assortment of classroom management strategies which are based on individual preferences. Teachers in China have the backing of their society so they do not have to rely on classroom management as much. In the United States, teachers will have to resort to additional strategies if they want to be deemed effective.

There in lies the secret that the Chinese teachers are not telling. The main reason that they are effective with their students is because of the predetermined relationship between the teacher and their students.

In the United States it is a very different story. Teachers in the US not have to contend wit their students but they must also contend with administrators, parents, and other staff members. Recently, US teachers now content with teaching standards and contract agreements.

The new teaching standard is Common Core Standards. The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. Forty-three states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have voluntarily adopted and are moving forward with the Common Core.

Unlike Chinese teachers, US teachers are involved in a revamping of how teachers are evaluated. The revamping of the teacher evaluation system is a direct result of the schools inability to remove teachers who are not effective.

Chinese teachers seem to be effective and the major reason is because of the classroom relationships that they have with their students. Chinese students come to the classroom with the utmost respect which is reinforced by the Chinese society. Teachers in the US will have to find better and more creative ways to establish positive relationships with their students. One way to off set the advantage that Chinese teachers have is to promote positive teacher student classroom relationships.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships


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