section européenne Lycée VINCI à AMBOISE

section européenne Lycée VINCI à AMBOISE

education OCDE results : bad news for French education

OECD education report: the East is also looking west

Aspirational and highly motivated students are the key to a strong performance by Hong Kong schools

A three-year-old British boy has reportedly died after being struck by a screen in a Turkish restaurant in Shanghai.
A three-year-old British boy has reportedly died after being struck by a screen in a Turkish restaurant in Shanghai Photo: AFP/Getty Images

As the latest PISA results are published and the world looks to East Asia for the answers to the perceived educational problems the west faces, ( bad results in Maths ) let’s also think about the side effects of the system that produces such great results.

In Hong Kong students are well motivated, aspirational and very hard working. Schools demand excellence in a few core core subjects like Mathematics and parents invest heavily in private tutors and additional classes. Success is measured in test scores reflecting the factual recall of imparted knowledge.

Learning tends to be passive, formal and receptive in large classes with a teacher at the front dictating knowledge through a microphone. It is no wonder that the rather simplistic PISA methodology values the products of such a system. If we want our young adults to possess these skills then we should try to adopt the East Asian cultural pedagogy. Strangely, in Hong Kong they are frantically trying to alter their curriculum and teaching strategies to become more western. Why is this when they are “near the top”?

The answer is simple. The East Asian approach is not very good at producing creative students who are able to work collaboratively to solve problems and find innovative solutions.

In Hong Kong, there is a worry about where the next generation of entrepreneurs are going to come from if all their kids can do is pass tests. They look to British and American models of education where students are challenged to think for themselves and take more responsibility for their own learning.


We may not do well in the PISA tests but our schools produce independent students who are capable of being successful in the complex, dynamic world they must inhabit.

So as the west looks to the east for solutions, the east looks back. 

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