The New York Times seems to have jumped on board my bandwagon about kids in China spending too much time in structured, rote education and not enough time playing. There is a great article here about how in a few schools here they are realizing that there are gaps in a kid's development when you force him or her to spend all of their waking hours in high pressure, competitive, schooling.
It's interesting how contrasting the American and Chinese education systems are, and are a great reflection of our two cultures. There are so many things that we can teach each other, things that could greatly improve our societies. Many of the issues facing our two countries are based on cultural roots. Americans have grown very self indulgent. They declare wars, but don't share in the sacrifice. They want government services, but fail to recognize that those services need to be funded. The want things, but are unwilling to save for them. They seem unable to plan for the future. They have apathetically allowed our democracy to be hijacked by the wealthy and special interests.
Chinese people are very competitive. Winning and face are everything. They push their kids to the point of suicide. They neglect their kids' emotional well being at times in their quest to be the best. Appearances are a priority and often hide deeper problems. They don't have enough fun and creativity is often stifled.
I have felt that the more interactions our two countries have, with student exchanges, travel, and working in each others' countries would greatly benefit both places. Americans could use a good injection of Confucianism and Chinese could use a good injection of American creativity.