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Little Soldiers: What U.S. public schools can learn from the Chinese education system

This photo taken on November 7, 2016 shows students studying in their classroom at the Yang Dezhi
This photo taken on November 7, 2016 shows students studying in their classroom at the Yang Dezhi "Red Army" elementary school in Wenshui, Xishui country in Guizhou province.

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Lenora Chu is an American journalist who moved to Shanghai with her then-3-year-old son.

When she put him in a state-run school there, she noticed major changes in his learning.

Her son became intensely focused and excelled at math, but was also afraid to color outside the lines, both literally and figuratively. He was more obedient, but became fearful of authority figures. This led Chu to dive deeper into the Chinese public school system.

In her book, “Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve,” Chu explores the strict style of Chinese public schools, following teachers, students and experts to learn more about the pressure to compete. Emphasis on hard work over innate talent and benefits of memorization are also explored by Chu in her book.

Today, she speaks to Larry Mantle about American and Chinese teaching styles, and gives her perspective about the good and bad of both educational systems.

Lenora Chu will be discussing her new book, “Little Soldiers” today, October 4 at USC at 4:00pm. The event is presented by the USC US-China Institute.

She’ll also be at Barnes & Noble in Huntington Beach tomorrow, Thursday, October 5 at 7:00pm for a discussion of the book.


Lenora Chu, journalist living in Shanghai, China; author of the new book, “Little Soldiers: An American Boy, A Chinese School and the Global Race to Achieve” (HarperCollins, 2017)

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