Arianna Bush

Hello Thomas,

Please find below an article that we at Onlinecolleges.net think you and your readers would be interested in reading, the post “10 Educational Advances the U.S. Has Over China” (http://www.onlinecolleges.net/2012/09/18/10-educational-advances-the-u-s-has-over-china/).

We’d appreciate it if you would take a look at the article and consider sharing it with your readers.

Thanks so much for your time!

Arianna Bush


Hi Arianna,

The article is quite intriguing. You are right, it should prove to be thought provoking and interesting. Thank you for sharing with me.

Best regards,


In recent years there has been quite an uproar about education in America, much of it based on the seemingly inferior quality of the U.S. system when compared to education leaders like Finland, Singapore, and especially China. Yet not everything about America’s education system is bad. There are some advantages to the way we do things, even if American students aren’t scoring top marks on international tests.

While the Chinese government may spend less on education and get better returns in the form of test scores, recent changes to the Chinese system of education, inspired by nations like the U.S., are a strong indicator that not everything we’re doing is wrong.

In fact, there are a lot of things that America does right when it comes to education. Here we share some of the advancements, advantages, and characteristics that make American education strong, even if it does need some reform.

We still have the best universities in the world.

While China may have the upper hand in K-12 education, when it comes to higher ed, the United States is still the leading destination for college students from around the world. Even with all of the recent tumult that has shaken higher education, the U.S. has never been a more desirable location for students from China. The number of Chinese students in American universities has doubled since 2008 and seems poised to continue to rise over the next few years. While Americans may have serious concerns about higher education, top schools like Harvard, Yale, MIT, Princeton, and Stanford still stand out as some of the best in the world for nearly every major and especially as research institutions. While that may be slowly but steadily changing (professors and leading academics are being hired abroad at higher frequencies than ever before), right now, our higher education system is one solid advantage.

Online education is easier to come by.

Online education is becoming increasingly popular in China and throughout Asia, but the diversity of programs, number of schools, and overall offerings simply can’t match that of the U.S. In 2010, more than 6.1 million students took an online course and enrollments in programs in healthcare and computer information systems have skyrocketed in recent years.

Additionally, 65.5% of all chief academic officers at colleges believe that online education is a critical part of their long-term strategy. This dedication to and popularity of online education in the U.S. has resulted in hundreds of different majors and certification programs being available to students, even some at the master’s and doctoral level.

This means that more students can access a wider range of educational material at any time and from anywhere. That easy access to educational resources is a definite advantage over China, whose online education programs are still building up steam.

American education offers more freedom.

The booming economy and worldwide presence of Chinese culture sometimes makes it easy to forget that China is still an authoritarian regime that restricts freedom of information and free speech. Students are expected to toe the party line, become members of the Communist Youth League, and aren’t allowed to speak out against the government or do any research that might draw into question the decisions made by that government.

What’s more, the communist party also exerts quite a bit of control over both individual faculty members and academic departments, nipping any dissent in the bud early on. While some opinions may not be popular in the U.S. and thus draw less funding, students have the freedom to say, research, and learn about pretty much anything they want.

That’s something that certainly has appeal for Chinese students, as 40%-60% of those who study abroad in the U.S. do not return to China. While job opportunities undoubtedly play a role in shaping that statistic, freedom of expression probably doesn’t hurt either.

School isn’t just about academics.

While subjects like math and science are certainly important in American schools, what students learn isn’t just about those core subjects. Time is set aside for subjects like art and music and students get lessons in socialization, cooperation, creativity, and ethics, too. The same can’t always be said for Chinese students, which is often noted as one of the biggest shortfalls of their educational system.

The Chinese have a narrower concept of learning, one that doesn’t always involve building skills that are necessary to work in a team-focused environment. Professor Xiong Binqi, vice president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, has said he thinks that Chinese education especially lacks the cultivation for civic literacy, awareness of self-reliance, personality, mental health, and other aspects of literacy and that students are too focused on getting better lives for themselves to consider ways in which they can change the world.

Sadly, over the past decade this advantage has been declining in many American schools, as arts, music, after-school clubs, and even recess are chopped from the school day to streamline things, focus students on testable subjects, and ease budgetary concerns.

Standardized tests are important, but they’re not necessarily life altering.

Bombing the Gaokao, the most important test Chinese students take, can throw a serious wrench a student’s plans for life, as solid scores on the test are required for students to get into tertiary education. Even before that students may be wringing their hands, preparing for the Zhongkao, the test that determines whether they’ll be headed for senior high school or relegated to vocational school. While America does seem to have a growing infatuation with standardized tests, examinations are rarely that intense or that critical to a student’s success in academics or life in general.

If a student does poorly on the ACT or SAT and there’s a chance that they might not get into the top-tier school, but other factors may balance out poor scores and there are plenty of other options open to students who aren’t great test takers, especially if they have solid grades and strong initiative. While tests here can be stressful, they are rarely life altering, and students don’t have to spend years stressing over whether they’ll get the chance to perform well on one to make it into the next phase of their lives.

Creativity is valued.

One of the biggest criticisms of graduates from the Chinese educational system, from both Americans and Chinese education experts alike, is that the system doesn’t encourage them to build skills in flexibility, communication, and especially creativity. These are critical skills in the workplace and the lack of them is beginning to hold China’s economy back (just .03% of Chinese companies own the patents for the products they produce).

The ability to produce innovative minds is one of the key advantages of the American educational system and one that China is eager to emulate, which may mean that we won’t have the upper hand in that respect for much longer. New reforms in China are working to infuse traditionally rote classes with lessons that will promote increased creativity. The continued prosperity of the Chinese economy depends in many ways on how successful these initiatives are at producing more independent thinkers.

In recent years, China’s growth has been fueled by low-skilled cheap labor, but as the population ages and labor costs rise, China must create more high-value jobs, which are often connected with innovation, in order to remain a global competitor. At the same time as the Chinese are embracing creativity in schools, many school systems in the U.S. are cutting back on all but what they see as the essential subjects; the same ones that are so central to the current way of doing things in China, which could create a creativity crisis of our own.

There is less pressure on students.

The high-pressure environment that many students in China operate under produces great success but not without some casualties along the way. Suicide rates are a controversial subject in China, so much so that no statistics on it are ever released, by the government or any academic institution. Even in the U.S., Chinese students have significantly higher rates of suicide than their peers from other backgrounds.

This sort of high-pressure, make-it-or-break-it attitude is nothing new in China; the country has a long history of high-stakes testing including the keju, a test administered by the emperor himself to choose new government officials. For many today, just as in centuries past, scoring well on tests is the only way out of poverty and into the elite. While pushing students to succeed is good, it probably isn’t necessary in the extremes that it’s found in China.

Finnish schools have proven that students don’t need the “tiger mom” approach to be successful, getting top marks despite going to school for fewer years and doing less homework. Oddly enough, in a recent study by the Pew Research Center found that Americans want more pressure put on students (64% say not enough pressure is put on students) while the Chinese want less (68% of Chinese parents think too much pressure is put on students), indicating that things could be changing for students in both countries in the coming decades.

Students can take classes in line with their talents.

Students in American high schools often get a chance to seriously embrace courses that reflect their personal interests and career goals, often being able to take several art, music, or even philosophy courses before graduation. If Chinese students are offered some electives, they rarely have time to truly enjoy them as their real focus must always be honing their skills in Chinese, mathematics, English, physics, geography, chemistry, and political science so they can prepare for the Gaokao.

There is little variation by individual in how courses stack up, and most students end up taking pretty similar course loads. This does offer American students an advantage, as they’re not only less stressed but are able to pursue subjects that they’re passionate about. Those motivated by their own passion for a subject are likely to be more creative, driven, and innovative within that subject, whether its computer programming or painting, than someone working hard to make the grade and fulfill parental and societal expectations.

There are a lot of different kinds of schools.

Parents in America can choose just about any kind of education they’d like for their youngsters, from Montessori schools, to religious institutions, to programs that focus on math and science or the arts. There’s a school out there that matches up with the needs of every student, and if there’s not, parents can homeschool.

While some may argue that school choice isn’t a good thing (those with the most choices are often the most advantaged and those who are disadvantaged often get little choice), it’s hard to argue that having at least some measure of control over the type of education a child receives and the method of instruction it’s doled out in is a bad thing.

In China, there are few schools outside of the state-run ones, and private schools are generally international schools that cater to the needs of foreign businesspeople and diplomats. The lack of school choice has motivated many Chinese parents to choose to send their students abroad for education at America’s elite private schools.

A growing number (4,000 families so far) are also homeschooling their children to help alleviate some of the pressure put on them by traditional schools.

America values diversity.

While there are certainly classrooms and school districts in America that are seriously lacking in diversity (this remains a major issue in reforming schools) by and large, America is a fairly diverse place. More importantly, however, that diversity, whether it be in racial, religious, cultural, or ethnic backgrounds, is quite often embraced, though perhaps more so in cosmopolitan urban schools.

While China is one of the most diverse countries in East Asia, especially when you consider the demographics of its megacities, it doesn’t always match up with the U.S. in the way that diversity is valued. In fact, very often, diversity in China is downplayed.

Ninety percent of China’s population is Han, and while dialects and ethnic groups exist within that group, their differences aren’t really highlighted as a positive. When it comes to language, Mandarin is the language of choice, and things not in Mandarin are often marginalized or replaced with Mandarin versions.

In some cases, there has even been violence leveled against those in religious or ethnic minorities, especially if their beliefs don’t line up with those of the ruling party. While diversity in America is undoubtedly a controversial issue and will continue to be, the diverse atmosphere in which students can learn, grow, and become global citizens is an invaluable asset.

Source: http://www.onlinecolleges.net


La Desconferencia

La Desconferencia: EdCamp Santiago
(Spanish Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Soy un maestro. Soy el más afortunado de todos quienes trabajan. A un médico se le permite traer una vida en un momento mágico. A mí se me permite que esa vida renazca día a a día con nuevas preguntas, ideas y amistades.

EdCamp Santiago es la desconferencia. Entrada gratuita, desarrollo profesional, por profesores, para profesores. Compartir en vez de competir, aprendizaje entre pares. Participantes comparten y intercambian sus mejores prácticas pedagógicas: “Best Practices”.

Product Details
File Size: 676 KB
Print Length: 107 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: Spanish
ASIN: B008302H4G

La Desconferencia: EdCamp Santiago (Volume 2) [Paperback]

Product Details
Paperback: 138 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (May 14, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477467734
ISBN-13: 978-1477467732

Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces


Amazon Author Page: Thomas Jerome Baker


My Dear Friend: Welcome to Chile (Essays from a Teacher in Chile) [Kindle Edition]

Book Description
Publication Date: February 19, 2012
My Dear Friend, Welcome to Chile.

This book shares the personal sentiment of its author, an expat, after having lived the past ten years in Chile. He says:

“I live in Chile, the most beautiful country in the world.”

He continues: “As I say these words, I want you to know that I come from the United States of America, a country that stretches from sea to shining sea, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The USA is indeed a magnificent country, but it isn’t Chile…”



EdCamp Santiago: The First Seven Days [Kindle Edition]

Book Description
Publication Date: March 4, 2012
Dedicated to all the educators, world-wide, who have participated in an EdCamp. Go forth, spread the word to the far corners of the Earth, something is happening. There’s something going on, a R(E)volution in teacher professional development. It’s called EdCamp….

A conference, that’s not a conference. An “unconference” is a better term. A new paradigm in teacher professional development, a new, creative, innovative way of staying up to date on what matters most to teachers. As I said, it’s a paradigm shift in teacher professional development. Let me repeat: Paradigm Shift.


Being A Teacher in Chile [Kindle Edition]

Book Description
Publication Date: May 3, 2012
“How do you become a good teacher?” Those of you who know me from reading my writing already know my answer. The short answer, the simple answer, the easy to understand answer. It has two parts.
First, love what you do. Love being a teacher so much that if you had the power to be anything on Earth, pilot, astronaut, doctor, dentist, taxi-driver, singer, dancer, artist, musician, anything at all, you would still choose to be a teacher. Love being a teacher, that’s number one.


Soy Un Maestro: I Am A Teacher [Paperback]

I am a teacher, and I teach in Chile. This year a new Teacher Career Law, defining the teaching profession in terms of increased prestige, attracting more applicants from higher performing students, an obligatory enabling exam, higher salaries, fewer hours teaching in the classroom, and higher responsibilities wil be passed, hopefully. This book totally supports the idea that a good law is needed, and now is the time to pass one, even if that law is not yet perfect. We Teachers have such a long way to go, and this is clearly a tremendous step in the right direction. To celebrate, all of the funds received for the sale of this book will go to support the EdCamp Santiago free conference for teachers in Chile. Thank you, in advance, for buying this book. May God Bless You…

Soy el más afortunado de todos quienes trabajan. A un médico se le permite traer una vida en un momento mágico. A mí se me permite que esa vida renazca día a a día con nuevas preguntas, ideas y amistades. Un arquitecto sabe que si construye con cuidado, su estructura puede permanecer por siglos. Un maestro sabe que si construye con amor y verdad, lo que construya durará para siempre.

Book Details
Paperback: 170 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (July 3, 2012)
Language: English/Spanish
ISBN-10: 1478176520
ISBN-13: 978-1478176527

Soy Un Maestro: I Am A Teacher [Kindle Edition]

Soy Un Maestro: I Am A Teacher [Kindle Edition]


La Desconferencia: EdCamp Santiago (Spanish Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Book Description
Publication Date: May 12, 2012
Soy un maestro. Soy el más afortunado de todos quienes trabajan. A un médico se le permite traer una vida en un momento mágico. A mí se me permite que esa vida renazca día a a día con nuevas preguntas, ideas y amistades.

EdCamp Santiago es la desconferencia. Entrada gratuita, desarrollo profesional, por profesores, para profesores. Compartir en vez de competir, aprendizaje entre pares. Participantes comparten y intercambian sus mejores prácticas pedagógicas: “Best Practices”.



The Chilean National English Test [Kindle Edition]

Book Description

Publication Date: March 25, 2012

SIMCE Ingles 2010: The development of the national English test in Chile coincides with my story, which is woven autobiographically into the larger story, a test which apparently resulted in only 11% of students able to achieve a passing score.

This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will reveal secrets to you that you thought you already knew about tests, test-making, and test-reporting.

More importantly, if you are a teacher, you leave the reading of this book with a renewed sense of confidence in who you are, and what you do…


Celtic Warrior Queen Boudicca

Statue of Queen Boudicca on the Thames River in London

What is deemed as “history” is often determined by those who survived to write it. In other words, history is written by the victors. The Roman historian, Tacitus, left us an account of the Roman victory over Queen Boudicca in the year A.D. 60-61.

Prasutagus, the wealthy King of the Iceni tribe, had died. Upon his death, his wife, Queen Boudicca, became the new ruler of the Iceni tribe. She headed a rebellion against the occupying Romans in Britain in A.D. 60 in which more than seventy thousand Romans were killed. The rebellion was eventually crushed and Boudicca committed suicide. So, this is a neat, sweet his-story with a happy ending, if you were on the Roman side, that is.

Yet undeniably, every community has a memory of itself. Not a history, nor an archive, nor an authoritative record, but a living memory, an awareness of a collective identity woven of a thousand stories.

Now, with the help of the Roman historian Tacitus, I shall tell you Queen Boudicca’s story, her-story……


Boudicca: Her Story
[Kindle Edition]

What is deemed as “his-story” is often determined by those who survived to write it. In other words, history is written by the victors. The Roman historian, Tacitus, left us an account of the Roman victory over Queen Boudicca in the year A.D. 60-61.

Yet undeniably, every community has a memory of itself. Not a history, nor an archive, nor an authoritative record, but a living memory, an awareness of a collective identity woven of a thousand stories.

Now, with the help of the Roman historian Tacitus, I shall tell you Queen Boudicca’s story, her-story……

Boudicca: Her Story [Kindle Edition]


Pecha Kucha & ELT

I saw my first Pecha Kucha over three years ago. It was when I was working at Universidad Andrés Bello at Campus Casona in Santiago with the students in the English Pedagogy program. I admit I’ve been fascinated by “Pecha Kucha” ever since that first time. I remember being very impressed by the performance I watched. There were a number of reasons for this. For now, let me share with you why I find Pecha Kucha to be so impressive and fascinating as a presentation technique.
Firstly, when we speak of our first time doing something enjoyable, it’s always a good feeling. We like what we like, we know what we like, and because of that, we return often, to what we like.

As you can tell by now, I like Pecha Kucha.

Secondly, its principles are easy to understand and apply. It’s fast, it’s efficient, it’s effective, it’s collaborative, it’s visual, it’s easy to prepare, it’s fun. However, it does require practice, lots of it, to do this really well. Practice, oh what a sweet word in the ears of any EFL teacher. Students practicing what they are going to say, again and again, going over their own words, to speak about images they themselves have selected. Volumes of practice, huge quantities of practice, helping the students to achieve the eventual automaticity that is the hallmark of mastery.

Having said that, of all the principles of the Pecha Kucha, the most important principle is this: images are powerful.

Images convey meaning and emotions. In fact, the whole range of the human experience can be conveyed by images. For example, think of the images left on the walls of caves by cave men. No one needs a cave man to verbalize what you are seeing. You feel it – through your eyes – to your brain – to your emotions. It’s visual storytelling. That’s what the Pecha Kucha is, visual literacy in its purest form…

Pecha Kucha & ELT

The International Baccalaureate [Kindle Edition]

The International Baccalaureate [Paperback]

The global search for high-quality education, embedded in high-performing education systems, has taken on mythical proportions, almost resembling the alchemists’ quest to turn common metals into gold.

It is my hope that the present day search for global education, equitable and providing equality of opportunity for all, shall not cease until the “gold” we seek, has been found.

I therefore dedicate this book to all the educators, researchers, parents and students the world over, who strive to achieve this elusive goal,high-quality education for all the citizens of the world.

In this endeavour, it is my belief that the International Baccalaureate merits a closer look, based on their more than 40 year history of delivering consistently excellent results.

I add that all of the reflections and views in this book are mine alone, unless otherwise noted, and can not be attributed to my employer or any other organization I am affiliated with, past or present. For any errors or oversights, I bear the complete responsibility.


Amazon Author Page:

Thomas Jerome Baker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Head of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile.

He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago.

Edcamp Santiago 2013 is currently looking for volunteers to help organize the annual event. If you are interested, contact Edcamp Santiago! Your help will make all the difference!

Email: edcampstgo@gmail.com
Facebook: Edcamp Santiago
!Like our page on Facebook please!
Read our Blog!
Edcamp Santiago on LinkedIn
Edcamp Santiago on Slideshare
Twitter: @EdcampSantiago

Es una red que reúne a Profesionales de la Educación preocupados por desarrollar y fortalecer las capacidades de sus comunidades educativas, a través de la creatividad, la innovación y el emprendimiento.

Thomas was recently selected for membership in the Comunidad de Innovación Escolar of the Foundation Telefónica and Foundation Educación 2020. It is a network that brings together education professionals concerned with developing and strengthening the capacities of their educational communities through creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Thomas is also a past member (2011-2012) of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he also serves as a reviewer and as the HETL Ambassador for Chile.

Thomas enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. Thus far, he has written the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He has published a total of forty four (44) books overall.

The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.





About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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