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

Leonora Chu. Harper, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-236785-3
An American journalist living in Shanghai, Chu enrolls her toddler son in a local school and comes face-to-face with the methods used to achieve the famed excellence of Chinese students: strict discipline including coercion and threats, relentless study, high parental involvement, and a classroom structure that operates on military precision, extras and gifts, Chinese Communist indoctrination, and high-stakes pressure. Concerned about the system to which she has committed her son, Chu begins a personal investigation and confronts, in discussions with Chinese teachers, students, and parents, and with foreigners, the central paradoxes facing China’s traditional culture and booming economy. Attempts by the school’s administrator at integrating a kinder, gentler Western approach to education collide with the Chinese emphasis on test taking and competitiveness, just as the Communist ideal of collectivity confronts the market impulses driving a still-developing country. The lively anecdotes, scenes, and conversations that Chu relates while describing her encounters with the Chinese education system will amuse or appall Western readers, and she outlines a system that, despite its high ideals, creates broad gaps in income and achievement. By the end, the successes of Chu’s son, who demonstrates mathematical ability and self-discipline along with buoyancy, curiosity, and leadership skills, persuade her that, going forward, the global ideal is a blend of Chinese rigor and Western individuality, whatever that might look like. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/24/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-5384-9938-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-9939-9
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-236787-7
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-256488-7
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