If your average picture is worth a thousand words, this one, which must include at least a million words is worth…I don’t know, maybe someone should write an essay on that. The above picture, published on the Chinese site, weibo.com and popularized for an English speaking audience on reddit, is of a Chinese girl sitting next to all of the exam papers she had to write in three years of high school. That means that each stack is roughly equal to all of the papers she had to write in one year of high school.
Imagine having to write that much on any subject. Seriously, what if your only job for the next year was to match the volume of one of those stacks. For most people that would be torture.
This picture shows what many many essays on education have failed to: that our test-heavy system trains kids to be machines. With soaring education costs, China, the U.S. and many others are searching for a more efficient education system, and to try and get some numbers on how well everything is working, there is one blanket answer: make them take tests. It’s a good way to get data, but it’s never clear how much that data means. This style of education rewards the good memorizers, but not necessarily anyone else. How would young Einstein, Shakespeare, Picasso or even Steve Jobs do in this system? Maybe great, maybe terrible. The scary thing is, after all these tests, we don’t really know.