Little Soldiers
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Little Soldiers : An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve

4.11 (137 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice; Real Simple Best of the Month; Library Journal Editors' Pick In the spirit of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Bringing up Bebe, and The Smartest Kids in the World, a hard-hitting exploration of China's widely acclaimed yet insular education system--held up as a model of academic and behavioral excellence--that raises important questions for the future of American parenting and education. When students in Shanghai rose to the top of international rankings in 2009, Americans feared that they were being "out-educated" by the rising super power. An American journalist of Chinese descent raising a young family in Shanghai, Lenora Chu noticed how well-behaved Chinese children were compared to her boisterous toddler. How did the Chinese create their academic super-achievers? Would their little boy benefit from Chinese school? Chu and her husband decided to enroll three-year-old Rainer in China's state-run public school system. The results were positive--her son quickly settled down, became fluent in Mandarin, and enjoyed his friends--but she also began to notice troubling new behaviors. Wondering what was happening behind closed classroom doors, she embarked on an exploratory journey, interviewing Chinese parents, teachers and education professors, and following students at all stages of their education. What she discovered is a military-like education system driven by high-stakes testing, with teachers posting rankings in public, using bribes to reward students who comply, and shaming to isolate those who do not. At the same time, she uncovered a years-long desire by government to alleviate its students' crushing academic burden and make education friendlier for all. The more she learns, the more she wonders: Are Chinese children--and her son--paying too high a price for their obedience and the promise of future academic prowess? Is there a way to appropriate the excellence of the system but dispense with the bad? What, if anything, could Westerners learn from China's education journey? Chu's eye-opening investigation challenges our assumptions and asks us to consider the true value and purpose of education.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 347 pages
  • 160 x 234 x 30mm | 544g
  • Harper
  • English
  • 0062367854
  • 9780062367853
  • 32,293

Review quote

"Mixing personal anecdotes, observations of Chinese classrooms, interviews with parents and students and thought-provoking facts about Chinese education, the author reveals how yingshi jiaoyu--high-stakes testing--has created a culture of stress and conformity.... Chu lets readers consider what skills a 21st century student needs and offers insight on the future of global education."--BookPageshow more

Back cover copy

When American journalist Lenora Chu moved to Shanghai with her little boy, Rainey, just down the street from the state-run school--the best, as far as elite Chinese were concerned--she faced an important decision: Should she entrust her rambunctious young son to the Chinese public schools? It seemed like a good idea at the time, and so began Rainey's immersion in one of the most radical school systems on the planet. Almost immediately, the three-year-old began to develop surprising powers of concentration and became proficient in early math. Yet Chu also noticed disturbing new behaviors: Whereas he used to scribble and explore, Rainey was now obsessed with staying inside the lines. He became fearful of authority figures. "If you want me to do it, I'll do it," he told a stranger who had asked whether he liked to sing. Driven by parental concern, Chu embarked on an investigative mission: What price do the Chinese pay to produce their "smart" kids, and what lessons might Western parents and educators learn from this system? In her search for answers, Chu followed Chinese students, teachers, and experts, pulling back the curtain on a military-style education system in which even the youngest kids submit to high-stakes tests and parents are crippled by the pressure to compete. Yet as Chu delved deeper, she discovered surprising upsides, such as the benefits of memorization, competition as a motivator, and the Chinese cultural belief in hard work over innate talent. Lively and intimate, beautifully written and reported, Little Soldiers asks us to reconsider the true value and purpose of education, as China and the West compete for the political and economic dominance of a new generation.show more

Rating details

137 ratings
4.11 out of 5 stars
5 34% (46)
4 48% (66)
3 15% (21)
2 2% (3)
1 1% (1)
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