Since a pivotal trip to China in 1990, I have had an enduring interest in contemporary China, in Chinese and American relations, and in the similarities and differences of Chinese and U.S. education. My recent book, Educating Young Giants: What Kids Learn (And Don’t Learn) in China and America, transports you into the classrooms in both countries, highlighting essential differences and striking similarities between the two systems. Based on my extensive experience teaching U.S. elementary students and teachers and more than 30 research trips to China, it is the first book to provide an in-depth view of how Chinese and American parents and teachers educate their children.
In the midst of my investigations into contemporary China, I met An Wei, a 70-year-old interpreter bent on helping others, and became fascinated with the opportunity to show modern China’s history through his dynamic struggle to survive an ever-changing country. Currently, I am writing a book that traces his determination to leave his impoverished village, survive the Cultural Revolution and become the interpreter for presidents. The book will highlight his mission to bring change to China, most recently through developing democracy in his village.
At Mount Saint Mary’s University in the heart of Los Angeles, I have directed the Elementary Education Program for 10 years and founded and directed the Bridging Cultures: U.S./China Program. Prior to that, I taught in public elementary and high schools for 14 years and coordinated an innovative educational research project at the Claremont Graduate University that drew national recognition. I publish academically in education and cross-cultural research, give talks nationally and internationally, and have won numerous awards including a City of Los Angeles honor for my cross-cultural expertise.
My latest project is a collaboration with the Museum of Teaching and Learning (MOTAL) which is mounting an exhibition based on my book, Educating Young Giants. Through the eyes of a fourth-grader from each country, visitors will explore a day in their vastly different classrooms. The exhibition, Two Roads, One Journey, will begin its national tour September 2016.