China made a choice about teacher time. In China, teachers have about 12-15 hours of instruction time with students each week, compared to U.S. teachers with 24-30 hours. The Chinese teachers utilize between 15-18 hours each week for preparation, improving instruction, collaborative learning with other teachers and support services like grading papers, as compared to U.S. teachers with 0-6 hours. The choice made by China is class size. The average class size in China could be between 40-50 students per class as compared to the average U.S. class size of 16-25.Check it out.
Another choice the Chinese have made is teacher specialization. In elementary/middle grades, teachers have specialization in Chinese, English, math, science and other subjects. In the U.S., our teachers -- especially in elementary school -- are asked to be ALL things to students and teach ALL subjects. Quite often, our elementary and even middle school teachers lack the math and science content knowledge that these specialized teachers in China have.
The other thing we are seeing from China, is that while they are building a new college per month, the Chinese are not happy with the overall performance of their schools. It's because the highly routinized and test-driven method, while producing solid test scores, is not producing creative thinking to any satisfactory degree. To develop the creative thinking necessary to produce innovation, they send their students to American colleges.
Still, if they continue to support the success of their teachers to a high degree, while shifting their curriculum toward more openness and creativity, it could be a whole new ballgame within a couple of decades.