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Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?: Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World Hardcover – September 15, 2014
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From the Inside Flap
Chinese students’ consistently stunning performance on the international PISA exams—where they outscore students of all other nations in math, reading, and science—has positioned China as a world education leader. American educators and pundits have declared this a “Sputnik Moment,” saying that we must learn from China’s education system in order to maintain our status as an education leader and global superpower.
Indeed, many of the reforms taking hold in United States schools, such as a greater emphasis on standardized testing and the increasing importance of core subjects like reading and math, echo the Chinese system. We’re following in China’s footsteps—but is this the direction we should take?
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? by award-winning writer Yong Zhao offers an entertaining, provocative insider’s account of the Chinese school system, revealing the secrets that make it both “the best and worst” in the world. Born and raised in China’s Sichuan province and a teacher in China for many years, Zhao has a unique perspective on Chinese culture and education. He explains in vivid detail how China turns out the world’s highest-achieving students in reading, math, and science—yet by all accounts Chinese educators, parents, and political leaders hate the system and long to send their kids to western schools. Filled with fascinating stories and compelling data, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? offers a nuanced and sobering tour of education in China.
From the Back Cover
PRAISE FOR Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
“This book unmasks the error of our policy makers’ obsession with test scores and their misguided determination to get higher scores than Shanghai. Yong Zhao explains why the pursuit of higher test scores is an unworthy goal, both for China and the United States, because it is essentially authoritarian and crushes creativity and fresh thinking.”
—DIANE RAVITCH, research professor of education, New York University; bestselling author, The Death and Life of the Great American School System and Reign of Error
“Zhao’s startling and masterful account is the best book ever written about China’s schools today. He exposes sloppy thinking on the part of people like me who thought the Confucian principles still at the core of Asian culture were all that were needed to push China and other East Asian countries far ahead of the rest of the world in school achievement. This is an irresistible story of both China’s weaknesses and ours, and how the two countries could make each other better if we conquered our mutual ignorance.”
—JAY MATHEWS, Washington Post education columnist; author, Work Hard. Be Nice: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America
“This book is an important message to shake up the illusions we have about schooling in the East and the West. It shows how obsession to top the international education league tables is leading both the United States. and China away from what they should do instead: to prepare all their students to find their talents and to live good lives. Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? is a masterpiece that only Yong Zhao could have written.”
—PASI SAHLBERG, visiting professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education; author, Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?
Top customer reviews
In addition, I believe that this book is even more helpful to the whole educational system in America now. I remember that Dr. Zhao once said that, "World Class Learner" is the book tells people what should be done, and this book tells people what should not be done. I believe this book has done the work successfully. "Practice is the only criterion for testing truth." Therefore, I believe that the best way to tell whether or not a practice or a policy works is to look around the world to see whether or not it worked out in those countries that tried it before. Many educational policies in today's America have already been practiced in China for hundreds of years, such as standardization and high-stake testing. If those policies do not work out in China, or the side effects are bigger than their benefits, why should people believe miracle would happen in America?
However, as a student who studies education in America, I sadly found that people do believe there would be a miracle, because very often when people discuss about a practice or a policy, they lack a global view and they have been restricted by thinking locally. Therefore, I believe the importance of Dr. Zhao's voice cannot be overstated in today's America.
Most recent customer reviews
Chinese, and no one here want to adopt anything from the Chinese!Read more