Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?: Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World
August 2014, Jossey-Bass
Chinese students' consistently stunning performance on the international PISA exams— where they outscore students of all other nations in math, reading, and science—have 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.
- Learn how China is able to turn out the world's highest achieving students in math, science, and reading
- Discover why, despite these amazing test scores, Chinese parents, teachers, and political leaders are desperate to leave behind their educational system
- Discover how current reforms in the U.S. parallel the classic Chinese system, and how this could help (or hurt) our students' prospects
About the Author xi
Introduction: Fatal Attraction—America’s Suicidal Quest for Educational Excellence 1
1 Fooling China, Fooling the World: Illusions of Excellence 13
2 The Emperors’ Game: A Perfect Machine for Homogenization 29
3 Governance without Governing: The Retreat of Authoritarianism and China’s Economic Boom 49
4 Hesitant Learner: The Struggle of Halfway Westernization 71
5 Fooling the Emperor: The Truth about China’s Capacity for Innovation 93
6 Hell to Heaven: The Making of the World’s Best and Worst Education 119
7 The Witch That Cannot Be Killed: Educational Reforms and Setbacks 141
8 The Naked Emperor: Chinese Lessons for What Not to Do 165
YONG ZHAO holds the first presidential chair at the University of Oregon, where he also serves as associate dean for global education and professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership. Zhao is a popular keynote presenter and has been featured in media ranging from the New York Times and USA Today to NPR and ABC. The winner of numerous awards in research, leadership, and innovation, Zhao is the author of more than 100 articles and 20 books. To learn more, go to www.zhaolearning.com.