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Little Soldiers

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Little Soldiers

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


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

China’s educational system vests in the raw power of memorization and discipline.

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  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


China is a leader in developing academic superstars, especially in math and science. Many educators regard these students as programmed to excel at memorization, but unable to think independently. Chinese teachers often use a rigid approach that they base on ancient and, some say, outdated Confucian principles. Journalist Lenora Chu, an American of Chinese heritage, and her husband sent their five-year-old son to Shanghai’s most prestigious kindergarten. She investigated and analyzed China’s educational system and details what makes it great while identifying its deficiencies.


China is an economic superstar.

China is one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries. It also is an economic powerhouse that is extending its commercial reach and influence, pushing other nations aside.

Knowledgeable observers predict that China will surpass the United States to become the world’s mightiest economic power by 2030.

China is creating the world’s biggest higher education system, with hopes of rivaling Western universities.

China’s renowned school system is setting a breakneck pace. 

In 2010, two journalists, Lenora Chu and her husband, Rob, moved themselves and their infant son, Rainey, from Los Angeles to Shanghai – a city of 26 million people. They chose China because of the opportunities it offered. 

American-born and -educated, Chu is the daughter of Chinese immigrants and a “direct descendant of the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty.” She grew up in Houston, Texas, and says that, as a child, her Texas accent inflected her Mandarin pronunciation.

Soong Qing Ling is Shanghai’s preferred kindergarten...

About the Author

Lenora Chu is an American author, journalist and public speaker with experience in the US, China, and Europe. She’s an international correspondent with the nonprofit Christian Science Monitor. She is an internationally recognized education expert who has given speeches about comparative education on four continents. Her articles and op-eds have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Science, and New York Magazine, among others. 

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