World Class: Our Mother’s Journey Halfway Around the Globe in Search of the Best Education for Her Children

Atria. Sept. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9781501192975. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781501192999. CHILD REARING
When education expert Clavel’s son was two years old, she began the competitive search for preschools in New York City (reputedly harder to get into than Stanford, with a four percent acceptance rate). Thousands of parents (some willing to hire expensive counselors to guide them through the application process) compete over fewer than 30 slots, many of which are reserved for legacy kids. At the end of the preschool experience, private preschools in the city have an “exmissions” staff to help parents write “first-choice” letters for admittance to primary schools. Socioeconomic status is the most important factor in a child’s education in the United States, contends Clavel. Her philosophy motivated her family’s decade-long journey through Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo, where she learned why students in these countries are outpacing those in the States. For example, in Shanghai, her children’s school lacked a working toilet, yet her son developed a love of learning and recognized staying after school wasn’t a punishment but an opportunity. In Japan, parents were forbidden to bring the materials their child had forgotten and were expected to help prepare and serve school lunches, all of which led to a sense of personal responsibility. When Clavel returns home after a decade in Asia, she finds the top-rated schools in California a disappointment.
VERDICT An intriguing volume on the differences in global education; however, some of the author’s suggestions to help further your child’s education, such as hiring a babysitter who speaks another language, take classes at the local community center, etc., may not be accessible or realistic for many readers.

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