I knew from some newspapers that Taiwanese education system prefers rote memorization over creativity. This culture was imported from Japan. This problem is also present in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea.

Although late, China seems to be the only country which is reforming its rote learning culture.

  • How can rote learning, in the universities of those countries, affect someone who is not used to with rote learning?
  • How do they maintain their quality of higher education with rote learning (apparently, a lot of universities from South East Asian countries are sitting in the top 50 positions)?

Note. I am talking about computer science.

  • 1
    Are you sure the pressure comes from the culture of preferring rote memorization over creativity? The way I read your source, the pressure comes from society + family.
    – Allure
    Apr 11, 2018 at 2:56
  • 2
    I was born and educated in Taiwan. I went to US when I was 24. I came back to Taiwan when I was retired. I took a look at the first link you provided. Honestly, I was LOL. This is one of the reasons I am always against studying East Asian Studies in the countries other than East Asia, like US, in English. I don't think "Taiwan favors rote memorization over developing creativity." is true unless memorizing multiplication table is considered unnecessary. (Yes, you must memorize the table so you can pass the 3rd grade math). There is no reference a the end of the article.
    – Nobody
    Apr 11, 2018 at 3:34
  • So, I don't know how to find out why the author said it. I don't even know how to answer the question, it's very broad and opinion-based. I could write an article about it. But, I won't vote to close this question with the hope that somebody can provide a shorter version of the answer.
    – Nobody
    Apr 11, 2018 at 3:51
  • I'm considering writing an answer, but am stymied by what exactly you mean by "rote learning". Googling for it yields rote learning as memorization based on repetition, which doesn't seem related to creativity at all. There are some things that have to be attacked by rote learning, e.g. the multiplication tables. What exactly are you referring to?
    – Allure
    Apr 11, 2018 at 3:59
  • Do you know the Chinese name of the college mentioned in the report you link about the reform in China?. I could not find the college by baidu. It looks like it's a small college and probably does not exist anymore.
    – Nobody
    Apr 11, 2018 at 4:08

2 Answers 2


As a European doing a PhD in Hong Kong, I've had the occasion to TA a few CS undergrad classes as well as take my own higher-level courses. I honestly can't say that I noticed much difference in class structures beyond the fact that people are much more shy about talking in class.

So, how will it affect someone not used to it? You will stand out a bit if you ask questions in class, or if you are the type to yell out answers immediately when the lecturer poses one to the class (this is usually met with resounding silence). If you are someone affected by peer pressure, you may end up asking less questions during lectures. Join the trove of students surrounding the lecturer after class for answers.

How do they maintain their educational standards? As far as I can tell, "rote learning" mostly is code for "exercises out the wazoo" here (newspaper articles abound about kids having 30 minutes a day of play time, the rest being occupied by school and homework), and there's nothing better for learning to do a thing than doing it over and over.

TL;DR I'm sure people here had a radically different experience in primary school, but by the time they reach university it seems to all come out in a wash.

  • Thanks for giving us the observation from a Westerner's point of view.
    – Nobody
    Apr 11, 2018 at 5:13
  • which country r u from?
    – user84565
    Apr 11, 2018 at 5:29
  • 1
    @why: Germany, but starting from middle school I was educated in the French education system.
    – nengel
    Apr 11, 2018 at 5:59
  • @nengel, do HK or Germany's universities use curved grading system?
    – user84565
    Apr 11, 2018 at 6:02
  • @why, grading is at the discretion of the professor. AFAIK they could choose to grade on a curve if they wanted to, but I haven't seen it happen in either place (but my most extensive experience with grades is from France).
    – nengel
    Apr 11, 2018 at 6:06

This problem is not specific to these countries mentioned, or merely computer science.

I am from Turkey and 16' Chemistry graduate from Middle East Technical University, and currently M.Sc. student in Earth System Science in METU as well.

Two-fold issue.

If one is not disciplined to do otherwise, he/she will always choose the shorter path (in)/conciously to overcome struggles. Same with learning; understanding the issue, "analyzing its components and connecting these pieces of information with other information and synthesizing a bigger part of knowledge to comprehend the real picture more" etc. takes time, effort, besides no one will give you any credit for doing all these more than they give to the ones who does rote learning.

The other, also most problematic part is creativity is , by its nature, unpredictable. Not only it cannot be controlled but also it can very well outshine "rote" ideas, may very well be one's advisor's ideas, and again no one will get over it. Current academic institution favors extremely ambitious people over anyone and this is impeding creativity, and of course the pace of the science

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