Here's a dissenting view.
A major reason why certain students do poorly in China is that their skills are ignored. Creativity and critical thinking are seen as objects of western frivolousness. Although Chinese students analyze literature, they never write essays and instead they simply memorize the texts. I have never memorized so much in my life as I did in Shanghai. The ideal Shanghainese student is like a sea sponge blindly absorbing any and all information and spewing it all out during the tests.
Don't get me started on the absence of explanation of mathematical answers Chinese schools enable.

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