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What Lessons Do Children's Books Teach?

China's education system is well known for instilling a respect for effort, determination, and perseverance. And according to a study published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, there may be a more surprising reason why Chinese students often score higher on academic tests than their American counterparts. The study found that children's books in China have a major focus on reaching goals and overcoming obstacles through hard work. On the other hand, American children's books primarily push the importance of happiness, with characters in the books typically smiling, laughing, and surrounding themselves with happy people. That kind of connection is also vital to a child's development, one of the researchers emphasized, adding that neither approach is necessarily "correct." Both have their upsides and downsides, so there might be a lesson in this research for both American and Chinese educators.

Getting educated about Chinese schooling:

  • Chinese students attend classes for at least eight hours a day, typically staying in school from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
  • Only 16 percent of Chinese children watch more than two hours of TV per day; in the United States, the figure is 84 percent.
  • Chinese students are not allowed to use calculators, since doing so could make higher-level math harder to learn.
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