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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  51 reviews
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
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 20th 2019 by Atria Books
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Teru Clavel is a mom of young children with the oldest being only two when she fights to get her children into one of the top New York City preschools. Something told her that the position of privilege was not all her children needed to receive a world-class education, so she and her family moved to Asia for ten years.

In that time, her children attend public schools in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Each setting has features that maximize potential. In Shanghai, for example, students stay late
Kaethe Douglas
Edited to add 06/02/19

Part of my wants to just delete all of the following, but I'll leave it for now. If anyone noticed that my review didn't actually include a review of the book, they were to kind to mention it.

Anyway, here's the thing: Clavel gives the reader a little bit of memoir of her own education, a bit of how she came to educate her own children as she did in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Palo Alto and New York.. There is quite a bit about the educational ideologies of different
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Finally finished this book. The title is not accurate. Unless “World Class” is a step above First Class and those of us in economy class didn’t even know it was an option. Much like most of this book.
The author and her family have an enormous amount of privilege. She kind of seems aware of this, but not to the extent that she should.
A more accurate title would relate more that this is simply one woman’s memoir of world schooling her kids, who of course are all healthy, abled, and bright.
Mark Renton
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Teru's journey combines insights not only into Asian education systems and the stark contrast with the United States, but is part travel journal, part parenting manual, and perhaps most importantly, a commentary for our time on the cultural attributes of three modern societies. At a time when political winds have come to question globalism, Teru casts light on two countries which have benefitted most from global integration, while steadfastly maintaining their traditions and heritage.

The iPhone
Renae Lucas-Hall
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t have children but I was keen to read this book because I attended a prestigious private school in Melbourne, I studied the Japanese language and culture as well as French and Italian at university, I taught English to Japanese adults and children for many years, I’ve lived in Australia, Japan and the UK for extended periods and I graduated from two top universities in Australia. Teru Clavel’s candid approach combined with her thoroughly researched suggestions and ideas as well as her ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Full disclosure, I only made it through about three dozen pages before I found the author’s voice so insufferable that I had to give up. I’m a college professor and deeply interested in the theory and practice of education, so the subject matter was what drew me to this book. Little did I know that the author approached this subject from a position of extraordinary privilege. Manhattan apartments, Hong Kong apartments, banking executive husband, live-in servants, a driver, designer clothing, ...more
Kriti | Armed with A Book
I wanted to read this book because it talks about topics close to my heart. All my school education was in India and I moved to Canada for graduate studies. My passions led me to pursue a teaching degree and I recently spent an amazing time with junior high students during my final placements. The Canadian education system is similar in some ways to the United States, that Teru goes into detail in this book. The Indian education system shares similarities with China and Japan. Through World ...more
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book, and it has many good insights, but it has quite a few problems, as well. For one, Clavel is writing from a place of incredible financial and educational privilege and seems mostly unaware of it. The majority of her advice simply isn't feasible for the average working class family. The people who would realistically be able to take advantage of her advice- Travel internationally! Teach your children a second language! Get the NYT delivered!- are the ones who ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly well researched book by education consultant, Teru Clavel. This is a debut novel for her that shares her children’s school experience in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. She also critiques American education. As an educator, I devoured this book! She redefines mastery and talks about everything from class size (class size actually doesn’t matter too much), teacher certs, how anything below 95% is considered failing (America it is around the 65% mark), and so much more. I ...more
Wenyu Zhao
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Comparing education systems is a well explored topic. However, author Teru Clavel’s book is fresh because it is also a memoir of her own and her family’s experiences in different countries and schools, a parent’s guide to navigating education, and a thoughtfully researched commentary on the societies and educational ideologies of the countries she experiences. Clavel’s unique circumstances essentially allow her to perform a comparative education experiment on her own family as they live in Hong ...more
Abdulahi Dohe
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy to Read - Quality Content

Enjoyed this read. It opened my mind on a lot of issues on education and educating children. Recommend for every parent.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Teru Clavel gives the reader a fascinating journey through the education systems of 5 cities in 3 countries along with an entertaining and compassionate personal memoir. She has a witty and self-depreciating style that allows us to watch her grow as she moves from a seemingly selfish and cut-throat New York where parents fight for spots at elite pre-schools so their kids can get into Harvard, to egalitarian China and the collective culture of Japan, and back to wealthy but dysfunctional Palo ...more
Sarah Bidwell
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
I want my kids (both my own and my students) to understand the purpose of their education. It was for this reason I put “World Class” by Teru Clavel on my summer reading list.

From the book’s description I knew I would read about a Mother’s journey with her children and their schooling in the US and abroad. What I did not know was how spot-on, well-researched, and relatable this book would be.

World Class is the heart-felt narrative of a mother, the author Teru, and her three children. Over the
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I read this book, I absolutely enjoyed the journey with the author. Teru and her family left their hometown New York to live in three different cities in Asia. I, as a mother of two grown-up children who have gone through a transition from Japanese to American school system, can imagine how hard it must have been for her children to get acclimated to new cultures and eventually thrive in those systems. Her story depicts their transition process with candor and humor - from shock and concerns ...more
Nina West
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I started the book, I admit to being a bit skeptical about what I would gain from the author’s experience educating her children abroad. After all, when I was raising my children, there were only so many school options. At our American public suburban school, I couldn’t imagine having much power to influence the educational experience for my elementary school aged children. However, once I got into the book, it was clear to me that there was a lot to learn here. By the middle of the book, I ...more
Annie Pasma
Nov 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, education
I enjoyed learning about other educational systems. Although not in education myself, it is something I am interested in learning more about. There were many things that I can appreciate about the Asian educational system. For one thing, mastering the basics IS key when learning anything. The deductive reasoning, especially for math class, makes no sense whatsoever. How you deduce anything if you don't know the basics first?

As I said, I liked learning about other educational systems and I can
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had my oldest son in poverty. He got into a gifted school, and sometimes as a young mother people give me attitude and look down on me. They assume I abused the welfare system or had some advantage as a low-income person to get in. When they realize my son was not admitted based on income but on pure test score, they are puzzled. What I really did is much of what Teru discusses that happened in China-I made the very best out of little resources.

I recommended this book to a friend in Seattle
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am not a parent. In fact, I am a millennial. I may even be closer in age to her children then to the author herself. But I found this book fascinating and relevant to my own life. It is fun and exciting to read because of the many anecdotes and personal stories (the author lived in many cities and cultures described throughout the book), and yet it is full of moments of discovery for a reader, from research about the American education system (the importance of “global competence” is ...more
Lawrence Goodman
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Must read" if you are an expat parent in Asia or an educator in the United States. This book answers questions about how they do it. It also should be of great interest to any American wanting a first hand view of how Chinese and Japanese cultures compare with American culture. It's a good read filled with experienced based advice.
Brian Platzer
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
World Class made me see education in an entirely new way. It was well-researched, compellingly argued, and entertaining from the first page to the last. Clavel illustrates her perspective with stories from her own life and evidence from others'. As a parent and teacher, I was riveted to every page.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a high school teacher in America, this eye-opening memoir is inspiring and frustrating.
I knew conceptually how other countries educate their next generation, but seeing it through the eyes of someone who lived and actively studied it tells me I can do so much more for my students.
Xiaochao Zhang
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was fun reading. Also as an Asian mom rising kids in the US. I feel so connected.
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
It was ok. It was hard to relate since I do not think I will ever have my children educated in China or Hong Kong.
I generally do not like memoirs. This is especially the case with memoirs by parents about their experiences in raising and especially educating their children. With the best of intentions, it is difficult to even confront the limitations of perspective and potential biases that arise when you are considering the education of your own kids given the wide range of educational experiences available in the US today. Everyone has their stories.

Ms. Clavel has located her story in a “sweet spot” for
Nov 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
I love/hate this book. Some sections were 5-star, others were 0 stars. 3 is the middle rating, but this book certainly was not average. It might make a good book club book because it is sure to provoke opinions!

There are sections I love: an educated woman talking about thoughtfully making the best choices for her children. Exploring other cultures for parenting and education practices.

There were some sections that terrified me: Her radical political views are interspersed with her writing in
Jon Keeling
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Teru Clavel weaves together a useful combination of education research, personal experience dealing with school systems in several international locations, and a colorful description of family life in various places and circumstances along the way, offering advice to other parents based on her research and experience traveling the world in search of superior education opportunities for her kids.

As a teacher for 35 years, and having a passion for improving my own teaching skills and training
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Teru Clavel's World Class is an incredibly insightful book about childhood education that I believe should be at the top of any parent's reading list. Teru takes us on a global journey from New York City, with its intense private pre-school admission process to Hong Kong, Mainland China (Shanghai), Tokyo and back to Palo Alto, California, as she raises three young children in the public school systems of these major global locations.

World Class focuses deeply on comparing the educational
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found the book very interesting for the discussion of different school models in China and Japan, as well as some of the examples of schools here in America. While I am not sure I agree with everything she says, I think she had a lot of good points. Ultimately, the main takeaway from the book is that you need to be very mindful and on top of what your children are learning and how in school.

I think the most interesting dichotomy was her perspective about being able to rely on the teachers in
Peter Walsh
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I came upon this book by complete chance – the weakness of America’s education system was never a subject of particular importance to me – but am so thankful that I got the opportunity to read it. After a lifetime of following the popular “every man for himself” principle, upon completing this book, I have come to realize that an adequate education for every child is a responsibility of all American citizens.

The subject matter is treated not only with firm authority, but also with a much-needed
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Teru Clavel is a comparative education expert and author. Teru has written columns on education for the Japan Times and the Financial Times, and she has made appearances on Fareed Zakaria's GPS, The TODAY Show, CBS This Morning, CNBC’s Squawk Box, and Channel NewsAsia. She has also been interviewed on countless radio shows and podcasts. Teru spent a decade raising her family in Asia (Hong Kong, ...more