The author is Lenora Chu and the subtitle is An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve. It’s about what the Shanghai public school system really is like, from an American/Chinese-American point of view. Here is one bit:
“Self-esteem” doesn’t exist in the Chinese lexicon, at least not in the way Americans use it. In China, a child’s regard for herself is rarely as important as a stark evaluation of performance. Almost as if child-rearing were an Olympic sport, the Chinese rank children on everything from work ethic to Chinese character recognition and musical skill.
Comparisons can be informal and conversational.
“He’s not as smart as his brother, but he’s a better singer,” my acquaintance Ming said to me once, nodding at one of her boys, in earshot of the less-smart brother. Sometimes the desire to rank is combined with a threat. “Does your father love your brother more?” a Chinese teacher once asked my friend Rebeca’s daughter. The question came after the girl had a bad showing on an in-class assignment.
By the way, according to the author:
Nearly half of all children outside of China’s large cities are high school dropouts.
An interesting read.