Chinese students live (and sometimes die) for their test scores.
Here is a portrayal of the “insanely stressful” examination system that rules the lives of all Chinese students.
This is the system that American policymakers like Arne Duncan hope to import to the United States.
This is the dream of “tiger moms” like Amy Chua and Michelle Rhee, to subject children to higher and higher stakes until they think of nothing other than their test scores.
Sorry, guys, but your dream is not the American dream. The American dream is one where everyone has a fair chance to realize their ambitions, whatever they may be–not just test scores, but in sports, music, or some other endeavor. The American dream celebrates those who tinker, who create, who improvise, who invent new ideas while “messing around” with stuff that interests them. This is the dream that made this country great, not a one-size-fits=all examination hell that ranks kids according to the whims of the testing industry.
This is what happens when your life depends on one test on one day:
Nearly 9.8 million Chinese high school students took the National College Entrance Exam, called gaokao, on June 7 and 8.
The emphasis on a two-day test has sparked criticism from some educators because of the incredible amount of pressure it places on students leading up to just one test. Gaokao has also been linked to China’s rising suicide rate because of mounted pressure and poor test results.
Hengshui High School, the highest achieving secondary school in gaokao over the last 14 years, has these as its two mottos: “Life is not a rehearsal, because you won’t have the chance to live it all over again,” and “If you haven’t died from hard work, just work harder.” At Hengshui, students study from 5:30 a.m. to 9:50 p.m., cannot have cell phones and are allowed just one day of vacation every month. Cameras are placed in each classroom to monitor students for laziness. These types of tactics are increasingly common at what many are calling gaokao-sweatshops — schools that exclusively prepare students for gaokao.