An eye-opening firsthand exploration of why Asian students are outpacing their American counterparts, and how to help our children excel in today’s competitive world.
When Teru Clavel had young children, the oldest barely two, she watched as her friends and fellow parents vied to secure a spot in the right New York City preschools. Following a gut feeling that a truly world-class education involves more than the privilege and ennui of elite private schools, Teru and her family moved to Asia, embarking on a ten-year-long journey through the public schools of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo.
During this time, Teru discovered firsthand why students in China and Japan are far outpacing their American counterparts. In Hong Kong, her children’s school was nicknamed The Prison for its foreboding, austere facilities, yet her three-year-old loved his teachers and his nightly homework. In Shanghai, in a school without flush toilets, the students were kept late not out of punishment but to master the day’s lesson. In Tokyo, her children and their classmates were responsible for school chores, like preparing and serving school lunches—lunches that featured grilled fish, stewed vegetables, and miso soup, not hot dogs and french fries.
These schools were low-tech and bare-bones, with teachers who demanded obedience and order. Yet Teru was shocked to discover that her children thrived in these foreign and academically competitive cultures; they learned to be independent, self-confident, and resilient, and, above all, they developed a deep and abiding love of learning. The true culture shock came when Teru returned to the States and found their top-rated California school woefully ill-prepared to challenge her children. Her kids were passing, but the schools were failing them.
In this revelatory book, Teru shares what she learned during her decade in Asia, providing practical tips and takeaways to bring the best of Asia’s education and parenting philosophies into American homes and schools. Written with warmth and humor, World Class is an insightful guide to set your children on a path towards lifelong learning and success.