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World Class

One Mother's Journey Halfway Around the Globe in Search of the Best Education for Her Children

Teru Clavel


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (10/6/2020)
Compact Disc (8/20/2019)


An eye-opening firsthand exploration of why Asian students are outpacing their American counterparts, and how to help our children excel in today’s competitive world.

When Teru Clavel had young children, the oldest barely two, she watched as her friends and fellow parents vied to secure a spot in the right New York City preschools. Following a gut feeling that a truly world-class education involves more than the privilege and ennui of elite private schools, Teru and her family moved to Asia, embarking on a ten-year-long journey through the public schools of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo.

During this time, Teru discovered firsthand why students in China and Japan are far outpacing their American counterparts. In Hong Kong, her children’s school was nicknamed The Prison for its foreboding, austere facilities, yet her three-year-old loved his teachers and his nightly homework. In Shanghai, in a school without flush toilets, the students were kept late not out of punishment but to master the day’s lesson. In Tokyo, her children and their classmates were responsible for school chores, like preparing and serving school lunches—lunches that featured grilled fish, stewed vegetables, and miso soup, not hot dogs and french fries.

These schools were low-tech and bare-bones, with teachers who demanded obedience and order. Yet Teru was shocked to discover that her children thrived in these foreign and academically competitive cultures; they learned to be independent, self-confident, and resilient, and, above all, they developed a deep and abiding love of learning. The true culture shock came when Teru returned to the States and found their top-rated California school woefully ill-prepared to challenge her children. Her kids were passing, but the schools were failing them.

In this revelatory book, Teru shares what she learned during her decade in Asia, providing practical tips and takeaways to bring the best of Asia’s education and parenting philosophies into American homes and schools. Written with warmth and humor, World Class is an insightful guide to set your children on a path towards lifelong learning and success.

Praise For World Class: One Mother's Journey Halfway Around the Globe in Search of the Best Education for Her Children

“Teru Clavel questions and challenges the educational system, and moves her family around the globe for over a decade to redefine and reassess what education means to them. This book changed me. It’s a must read.”
— Angela C. Santomero, author of Radical Kindness and creator of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

“Teru Clavel is the voice of twenty-first century education. She has lived the bigger picture and generously shares how her experiences match leading research. We should pay attention—and adjust.”
— Arne Duncan, former Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama

“Teru’s personal experiences abroad with her children breathe life into the data and research compiled over many years by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This is a wakeup call for families, policy-makers and educational institutions.”
— Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills at the OECD

“A thoughtful combination memoir and manual . . . [Clavel’s] personal narrative is studded with lists of useful tips about choosing schools and hiring tutors, for parents who must advocate for their children and supplement gaps in their educations.”
— Publishers Weekly

“An upbeat chronicle of [Clavel’s] children’s school experiences in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo and a harsh critique of American education . . . [offering] advice about vetting schools and enriching children’s education.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“An intriguing volume on the differences in global education.”
— Library Journal

Atria Books, 9781501192975, 352pp.

Publication Date: August 20, 2019

About the Author

Teru Clavel is a comparative education expert, author, and speaker who has shared her insights on education and globalization on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS, TodayCBS This Morning, CNBC’s Squawk Box, and Channel NewsAsia. She has written columns for and has been featured and cited in The Times (London), Chicago Tribune, The Japan Times, the Financial Times, The Washington Post, and numerous other publications. Teru holds degrees in Global and Comparative International Education as well as Asian Studies. She spent over a decade as an education journalist and college consultant while raising her three children in the public schools of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and California. Teru recently returned with her family to her hometown, New York City. She can be found on social media at @TeruClavel.