Education in China: Underworked Teachers
Lots of stuff wrong with China’s education system
This is going to be the first of a series of posts about secondary education in China. Put simply, there are a number of things quite wrong with the Chinese education system.
Although there are many who are more qualified than I am to comment on this topic in terms of perspective or experience, and plenty of other China expats who have their own take on things, some of you outside of China or considering coming to China to teach may appreciate an honest perspective from an outsider (a China expat) looking in (to the China education system). Beyond this, it would be great if you would share your perspective or experience in the comments below.
15 hour work week in China
The first year I came to China, I taught 15 periods of English per week. It really wasn’t that much at all, and I was able to schedule things so that there was no class on Friday. There was also a total of one and a half months of paid holidays during the Chinese Lunar New Year and National Day. The pay was low, but the work was not time consuming.
Yet most of the Chinese teachers were shocked to hear that I had fifteen classes a week. Most of these Chinese teachers had six to ten classes a week, with very few reaching the upper end of this range. They also always complained about how tired and overworked they were. Granted, they had to stay on campus all day and attend slightly more meetings than their American counterparts, but 6-10 classes a week? That is a tiny, tiny amount of work. Many of the other English teaching expats in China I knew had teachers with similar schedules
Most of these Chinese teachers would endlessly complain about how there were too many students. Each class did have 64 students. Yet what if they just had twice as many (smaller) classrooms, and taught twice as many classes? This would mean each class would have 32 students, a reasonable size. And it would mean their workload would be twice as heavy in terms of class hours (but an equal amount of assignments to grade, etc), with 12-20 classes a week. Still less than a typical American teaching load.
How do Chinese teachers see their schedules as a crushing burden, when it is really so light? If you are an expat teaching English in China, or a Chinese teacher, it would be great to hear from you below.