Noticeable differences between Chinese and Western teaching concepts.

chinese vs western learning styles


As a director of a business it is important to monitor and assess other businesses from time to time that operate in a similar orbit as Can Cubs. If you’re business owner also, I’m sure you are aware of the SWAT analysis…


Many preschool businesses to ours do share some overlaps in operations. In other areas, particularly in teaching concepts and methods, they can be worlds apart. This isn’t always obvious however at first glance. it takes a little digging to get past the facade. 


Children have a desire for knowledge and play, and who’s to say they can’t interconnect at the same time? 

Actually, many ‘teachers’, especially here in China say they can’t coexist at the same time in a lesson. And most don’t incorporate any kind of play into their lessons. I have witnessed many dull and mind numbing lessons in my lifetime, both as an observer of other teachers and from my own childhood experiences.


Perhaps this is a mixture old fashioned Confucius  values and the Chinese language itself? Confucius is regarded as the Greatest Teacher by Chinese people and he promoted that every person is educable. Being influenced by Confucianism for a long time, Chinese parents believe that their child is like clay which is malleable and children need to be educated as early as possible. 


This is also why Chinese parents expect their child to work hard to learn rather than play. Didactic instruction and 3-R (reading-writing-arithmetic) approaches are still commonly used in Chinese education system (Chang, 2003).


In modern Western countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, play is considered as a cognitive process (Santrock, 2009) and “a vehicle for defining, producing and transforming knowledge” (White, O‟Malley, Toso, Rockel, Stover & Ellis, 2007, p. 100).


There is an historical basis to Chua‟s (2011) assertion that modern Chinese parents do not widely believe that learning occurs through play. “During the Sung dynasty (960–1279) play was depreciated in favour of a strict curriculum that valued a rigorous examination system”. That system unfortunately is still in place, and is often even applied to even preschools in many cases. (Our nearest geographical competitors in particular).  


Western societies place a high value on play and the role of play in learning.In some countries such as the United States and New Zealand, play is seen as the preferred way to promote competence and academic success. Teachers are encouraged to play with children and use play as a means of teaching (Smith, 2010).


Teachers in the United States, and indeed myself, believe that preschoolers should have fun and learn through play. Moreover, they should be encouraged to explore and discover their own environment and not be hurried to learn academic subjects. The results of Lee‟s (2006) study reflect what most mainstream early childhood teachers believe children should be doing at their early childhood centres.


Given that it is the Chinese New Year, many of our customers have returned to their hometowns to be with their families. And hopefully their family members are playing lots with the children! It’s just like the equivalent of Christmas for us westerners. 


Here at Can Cubs, Can Can bear has taken this chance for a short hibernation! Shush… We’ll be open again as soon as he wakes up (tomorrow)!



This holiday has given me time to reflect and analyse this topic, it has affirmed to me that Can Cubs is indeed sailing in the right direction. In this busy world reflections are becoming a rarity, as I’m sure you’d agree! 


different learning styles
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