Western Education System vs. Asian Education System

Education is a part of human society. It has always been. Generations after generations have taken up the task of educating their young, be it in formal or informal settings. Given this, one thing stands true for all forms of education – the culture of the educator influences education significantly.

Have you ever wondered why your friend who attends one of the IP schools in Singapore seems to ace every math and science test? On the other hand, your American classmate next door prefers debating philosophy. 

Well, the answer might lie in the vastly different education systems of the East and West. The Western and Asian education systems adopt different approaches with varying outcomes, all sharing the common goal of imparting knowledge. In this article, you’ll explore the distinctions between these systems.

The Asian Advantage: Sharpening the Fundamentals

Imagine classrooms buzzing with focused students diligently solving equations. That’s a common sight in many Asian countries. The teaching style is teacher-centered as the authority of the teacher is a major highlight of this approach. Teachers provide learning resources and assignments. They determine how interactive lesson periods can be. 

The students learn by rote memorization and repetition, while performance is determined through standardized tests. It then creates a competitive atmosphere that keeps every student on their toes. The Asian education system emphasizes discipline on the part of the student, with the responsibility of facilitating their own learning placed on them.

There is also uniformity in curriculum for all students, regardless of capacity or interest. The end goal is to get students grounded in as many subjects as possible. Building a strong foundation in core subjects like math and science important, and it’s no surprise that Asian students often excel in these areas. 

The Western Way: Creativity and Independence

Western classrooms tend to be more interactive. Discussions and presentations are all part of the learning experience. The Western education system encourages critical thinking, freedom of expression, and the ability to solve problems creatively. 

Students are always supported in exploring their interests, with teachers serving merely as instruments of guidance and correction. This can be a great way to nurture well-rounded individuals who are passionate about their chosen fields.

Rather than attribute a student’s failure in standardized tests to their own limitations and/or indiscipline, the training institution assumes the responsibility. It acknowledges a failure to create a conducive learning condition that will facilitate the student’s learning. 


  Western Education System Asian Education System
Goal Critical thinking and individualism STEM subjects, rote learning, and discipline
Curriculum Broad-range of subjects Language- and STEM-focused
Teaching style Student-centered Teacher-centered
Assessment Varied Standardized tests
Outcome Well-rounded and critical thinkers Highly skilled, knowledgeable, and disciplined individuals

Bottom Line – Beyond the Stereotypes

It’s important to remember that these are broad strokes. Not all Asian schools are rigid in their delivery of learning objectives. In the same way, some Western classrooms incorporate elements of memorization. 

So, which system reigns supreme? Both have their merits. The Asian approach in core subjects is valuable in building resilience and a strong foundation in these subjects. The Western method is great for raising critical thinkers and preparing students for a world that demands innovation.


Haps Staff
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