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Quick Chat: Academic Competition amongst friends and classmates in China

February 11,2016

In new book, postdoctoral scholar discusses the toll of academic competition

In this Quick Chat, Xu Zhao also offers some thoughts about the lessons Canada can learn from China, in how its attitudes towards competition have shaped the emotional well-being of its young adults. 

February 11, 2016 - Every three years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) releases the results of its Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam, a test given to half a million 15 year olds around the world with a  focus on reading, science and mathematics.

In recent years, the test results have shown Chinese student scores leaping over those of students from other parts of the world, including Canada.  

Xu Zhao says this is due, in part, to a drive by the Chinese government to develop policies that encouraged competition in its students—against friends and classmates—and often to the detriment of social values and sound mental health.     

Zhao, a Werklund School of Education postdoctoral scholar, has just published a new book that looks at this phenomenon and the emotional costs of academic competition. 

In this Quick Chat, she also offers some thoughts about the lessons Canada can learn from China, in how its attitudes towards competition have shaped the emotional well-being of its young adults.