Writes Nicholas Kristof (NYT):
I’ve met the future, and it is the [Chinese] kids. Americans who come to China tend to be most dazzled by glittering new skyscrapers like the 1,380-foot Jin Mao Tower, but the most awesome aspect of China’s modernization is the education that children are getting in the big cities. And the long-run competitive challenge we Americans face from China will have less to do with its skylines, army or industry than with its Super Kids, like Tony Xu.
Tony’s real name is Xu Jun, but all the children entering the New Century Kindergarten that he attends get English names as well. Six-year-old Tony’s first languages are Mandarin Chinese and Shanghainese, but even in English he rattled off answers to equations faster than I could.
China’s great strength is that in the cities, it increasingly is not a Communist country or a socialist country, but simply an education country.
One reason for Chinese educational success emerges from cross-cultural surveys. Americans say that good pupils do well because they’re smarter. Chinese say that good students do well because they work harder.