Let me set up my own criterions in dividing the world into two; culture, position, race at a time– how? ‘The East’ and ‘The West’.
Can you guess what caused the cultural differences between the East and the West? T oday, I’d like to reveal the answers of how these ‘two zones’ took opposite cultural roads by comparing world’s educational culture.
First, let’s take a look at the Eastern countries. In Japan, the Tokyo University is referred to as a prestigious institution of higher learning. Though the reasons they strive for the admission might root in the desire to earn money or employment in respectable workforces, the major purpose is because of fearfulness not to deviate the “standard” of life. That’s why taking notes is active in Japan, which formed “otaku” and “mania” tradition. India shows a similar route with Japan. In a historical view, the Braham, high-educated social class, desired to block the outflow of Hinduism scripture, “Vedas”. As a result, recitation was devised to preserve knowledge instead of leaving records. Even today, math is educated in rote and recitation, which led India to powerful IT nation.
Then, how about the Western countries? France can be a great sample to show the universal flow of educational culture in the West. Baccalaureate, a college entrance exam in France, consists of subjective questions only and uniquely includes ‘philosophy’. Since the philosophy test doesn’t request only one standardized answer but admits diversified ideas, thinking abilities became the most essential skill in France. Even the questions like “Is it possible to deny an obvious thesis?” treat abstract and ideological concepts, so it is virtually meaningless to memorize massive knowledge to achieve substantial results in the test. As a result, students in a trial period come together and repeat constant debates, exchanging thoughts and rebutting each other.
To organize, the East showed the educational pattern of rote learning, while the West pursued debate and collaborative work. Today, what I want to focus on is not the culture itself, but the factors that caused the antithetic distinctions between the East and the West. First, it may origin from different ‘values’. The East emphasizes community and oneness influenced by traditional agriculture society: that’s why Japan people were reluctant to lag behind, to feel a sense of belonging with others. On the other hand, the West put emphasis on individual itself. They prefer to be special with their own marked individualities that express themselves. Second, another factor might come from different religions. Confucianism taught the East that the ultimate purpose of studying is to perceive outside the world and master what teacher says, but considered questioning as an inappropriate behavior. In contrast, arguing and disputing abilities were defined as a symbol of one’s capability in the West, influenced by Aristoteles- “Know yourself.” Finally, the East’s world view of circulation and the linear world view of the West has also influenced the cultural gap between two zones.
To sum up, culture is not made accidentally. Even trivial culture reflects interaction of thoughts, history, religion, and so many other elements that consist our world. Educational culture is not the exception. They are formed differently in different environment settled over countless centuries. However, world is changing so dramatically with the flow of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Therefore, embracing different educational cultures ‘partly’ might help us develop further in order to work toward our common goal, humanity progress.
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