I recently gave a talk at the Yale China Association in which I learned some interesting things from a couple of Chinese nationals about elementary ed in China. I write about these in my most recent Out in Left Field post, in which I talk about the stereotype of rote learning in East Asian schools.
However, there was one interesting observation that I wanted to highlight here for people's opinions: apparently, in elementary school, mainland Chinese students only have two subjects: math and Chinese, with three hours of math per day.
This got me wondering about the value of early training in history/social studies and science. Are the Chinese losing anything important by delaying these subjects until later? Or is it perhaps a good thing to wait until students are older for these subjects--as opposed to highly cumulative ones like reading/writing and math?
On the other hand, is it perhaps a good idea to give students some variety of subject matter, and a break from all that math and literacy? But even if this is the case, are science and social studies the best candidates for this, or would it be better to instead have more time for art and music?