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The author is born in Philadelphia and raised in Houston. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in journalism. Her grandparents fled China during the Cultural Revolution and immigrated to the United States. Chu notes the irony that 50 years ago Mao conducted his anti-intellectual purge and now Shanghai schools top the world in math, reading, and science and the USA is only in the middle of the pack.
Chu and her husband live in Shanghai for his work at a news agency. They have a young son who goes to the local school. His skills in math and Chinese language excelled but Chu noted behavioral changes that lead her to examine the educational system in China and the USA.
The book is well written and researched. It is written in the journalistic style. The author noted that the Chinese schools give less attention to the poor students and spend time and resources on the high achievers. She stated the U.S. system is “No Child Left Behind”. She noted the Chinese schools are rote memorization then they allow them to explore more complex applications after they have achieved a certain level of understanding. The Chinese schools also taught obedience and self-discipline and squelched individualism and creativity from the beginning of school. I found the differences in educational techniques interesting and was wondering if there was a way to combine the best of the two systems to create a better school system. The conformity and lack of individualism and creativity really bothers me about the Chinese system. According to the author, China is in the process of changing its methods to allow for more creativity in the students.
The book is eleven and a half hours long. Emily Woo Zeller does an excellent job narrating the book. Zeller is a voice over artist and an Audie nominated audiobook narrator. She has also won numerous Earphone and SOVAS awards plus was voted Best Voice in 2013 and 2015 by Audiobook Magazine.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
A wonderful insight into the Chinese education system....worth listening to...well read and a good story