Email This Post Email This Post
Home » Education Reforms, Featured, Globalization, Technology

News and Interviews about my Book: Catching Up or Leading the Way

14 November 2009 57,544 12 Comments

Catching Up or Leading the Way

  1. More about the book:

1-10-2010: Lansing State Journal Op Ed: Education “Race” is Counterproductive.

12-17-2009: Panel Discussion about Education in the US on China Radio International, Beijing: 2009-12-17 Education in the US

12-1-2009 The Daily Riff reviews the book in its “Favorite Books” section:

12-4-2009: Kappan‘s editor Joan Richardson interview with me:

11-26-2009: Kompas, an Indonesian newspaper article cites my book. Here is the Google translation from Indonesian to English.

11-11-2009: Primary Source reviews my book:

09-11-2009: Fred Deutsch writes about the book on his blog:

29-10-2009: Laura Berman writes in Detroit News about the book and an interview with me:

28-10-2009: Dr. Suzie Oh in Korea writes about the book. Here is the link in English with Google Translation: and here is the original Korean version:, if you can read Korean.

16-10-1009: Correction: A reader pointed out an error in the book. On page 31, the book says “Senator Judd Gregg, a republican from Vermont,” while the Senator represents “New Hampshire.” My apologies and thanks, Peter, for pointing this out.

12-10-2009: WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show interview about my book:

05-10-2009: Sean Cavanagh of Education Week wrote about the book:

21-09-2009?Anthony Cody wrote a review of my book:

14-9-2009: ASCD  Author page includes video clips of me talking about the book:

  1. 11-09-2009: Read sample chapters:
  2. 09-09-2009: Interview with Russ White:
  3. 09-09-2009: Interview on Michigan Public Radio with Charity Nebbe, All Things Considered:
  4. MSU News:
  5. A talk with Yong Zhao, conducted by Lucy Robertson, Educational Leadership assistant editor:
  6. U.S. vs. China: Thoughtful Chinese Author Says U.S. Schools are Better: Comments about my book by Jay Mathews, education columnist for the Washington Post:

Yong Zhao’s newest book, “Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization” is now available on ASCD online store, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

This remarkable book will forever change the debate about what’s wrong and what’s right with American education and where it should be going. Based on his own experience as a student in China and as a parent of children attending school in the United States, Zhao skewers conventional wisdom while setting straight the recent history and current state of US schools. To make his case, Zhao explains:

  • Why the perceived weaknesses of American education are actually its strengths.
  • How reform proponents, business executives, and politicians have misjudged American education.
  • Why China and other nations in Asia are actually reforming their systems to be more like their American counterparts.
  • What really matters for an education system and what really counts as educational excellence.

With an extraordinary command of facts and thought leadership, Zhao describes how schools have to keep pace with a world that is being dramatically transformed by globalization, the “death of distance,” and digital technology. Instead of falling in line with mandates for standardization, his prescription is for educators to

  • Expand the definition of success beyond math and reading test scores.
  • Personalize schooling so that every student has opportunity to learn.
  • View schools as enterprises that embrace globalization and digital technology.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


  • American schools do a better job than some may think « Franklin School Committee said:

    […] Roy on August 19, 2009 To those who think that American schools are so bad, look at the book Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization by Yong Zhao. As the jacket materials note, this remarkable book will forever change the debate […]

  • joseph heywood said:

    From speech to Michigan rural librarians, last May. [JT Heywood, MSU, BA Journalism, 1965]
    I am a blue-collar writer in a blue-collar state, and this night you will hear no high falutin Lit-Rah-Chuh from the likes of me.
    What I have to say is that we are at war. I refer to an enemy comprised both of our pathetic national economic situation and those under-whelming political forces of various persuasions, who continually seem to want us to take Hobson’s Choice, which is, of course, no choice at all and might be best expressed as this: more science or more science. This war has been under way for a while.
    And, of it continues, it will kill us all, as individuals and as a country.
    The so-called powers-that-be insist that unless we teach our kids more science and math we will trail the rest of the world in terms of future opportunities, and thus our middle class way of life will disappear.
    I won’t even address whether comparative test scores from country to country are apples and apples, or apples and aardvarks.
    What we hear every day is political rhetoric and posturing that amount to hogwash of the blackest dye.
    For too long, this country has been neglecting all of the arts, not just in terms of support for its practitioners, but for those in our schools who teach the arts — where it often dismissively referred to as “non-core,” and is thought by many to be mere frivolity.
    This thinking demonstrates almost total ignorance of the human creative process – ignorance, I suspect, that comes from not having enough exposure to humanities in one’s own education.
    Core and non-core? Well, let’s talk about that.
    When England’s leaders in the 1930s needed the country’s scientific and engineering community to get more tuned into and acting with greater dispatch to produce aviation weapons that would be needed for the war looming ahead – the government reached out not to scientists or engineers, but to novelist H.G.Wells and a scenario he wrote about the future of mass bombing. They reached fiction, not science in the form of wonk papers or tech manuals.
    Core or non-core?
    Could it be that science rides on the back of metaphor as much as formulae?
    Core or non-core? Einstein grasped relativity by visualizing moving trains.
    Core or non-core? The Big Bang is most often described by scientists as a cosmic firecracker.
    Core or non-core? Physicist Niels Bohr turned to cubism to help him find a way to describe the content and shape of atoms.
    And so on. Metaphor enables artists and scientists alike to imagine abstract concepts in concrete terms. Core and non-core are constructs, not realities and they represent a very narrow, largely false dichotomy.
    Which gives rise to a thought: Could it be that science actually needs art?
    Human experience is the world of the arts. The novelist, composer, painter and poet embrace the spiritual aspects of the mind that cannot be reduced, dissected, translated, or converted into formulae and / or simplistic acronyms.
    James Joyce once said of one of his works: “Tis the broth of thought, the mind before punctuation, a stream of consciousness rendered on the page.”
    Science rightfully adheres to strict methodology, depending on experiments and resulting data, replication of results for validation, and standardized test methods, but the cultural hypotheses of artists inspire questions that often stimulate important new scientific answers.
    Who and how are we, and where is this phenomenon we call life taking us? Scientist and artist: we ask the same basic questions and take hints and clues from each other and depend on the same stimuli for the answers. I see an apple fall from a tree and think about a plot for deer poaching story. Sir Isaac Newton saw the same phenomenon and conceived of gravity.
    More science or more science in education? Wrong question. The spark we call creativity is the same spark that creates literature and scientific breakthroughs.
    Years ago, when I was fresh from military service and new to my corporate job, I was also working on masters in English Lit at Western Michigan.
    I went one day to see our director of CNS research, and as I sat in his office, I noticed a book on his bookshelf called, Laughter, by Henri Bergson. Ironically I was studying the same book in a class on the theory of comedy and I was curious why the scientist had it on his shelf.
    He said, “Intellect and creativity eat the same food. Science advances on the back of art, and vice versa. They are all part of the same thing.” His name is Fred Kagan, and he is an exceptionally enlightened man.
    To rephrase Fred, science and art eat the same food. Remember the example of the falling apple a few moments ago?
    Let’s not deceive ourselves. The main reason for most companies moving American jobs to other countries is not because scientific and technical work forces elsewhere are superior to ours: It is because they are cheaper! Globalization is about profit.
    Very little of this push for science is about improved American scientific capability: It’s about money. Globalization, the drive for maximized profits, has delivered millions of jobs to other countries. And that same relentless push for profit combined with corporate leadership turned greedership, has put our economy in that ungilded tank we unceremoniously refer to as the crapper.
    Globalization is a word for the maximization of profits by finding places to get tax breaks, lower manpower costs, or both. Recently we have seen where the unregulated, never-ending search for profit takes the world.
    In what is largely sociopolitical baloney, many of our political leaders at all levels of government bray about the importance of teachers and fixing our education system.
    If sincere, how come we treat our educators like fecal matter? People who purport to support education whinge: “They have a union, they make too much money, their benefits are too expensive, they only work nine months, they have whole summers off, Yada yada yada.”
    I read a study from five years ago showing that American teachers then ranked 26th of 29 countries in teacher pay – and worked 300 more hours a year on the average than other countries. I suspect it’s worse now.
    Okay, teachers do have summers off. They also work nights and weekends. And their employers require them to continually upgrade their educations – mostly on their own dime and on their own time. In most systems teachers have 30-40 students per class – as many as 300 a day, kids with little socialization from their families, kids looking to visit violence on each other, and so on, ad nauseum.
    We support teachers and education? This is no more than lip service, bumper-sticker philosophy, and hot-air citizenship.
    The United States once was a country that walked our talk. Now we jay-walk and double-talk, and proclaim it serious thought.

  • Power Chords Chart said:

    Thank You for the post. I love to read interesting post that has knowledge to impart. I hope to read more articles from you and in return I will post also my articles in the forum so that others can benefit from it. Keep up the good work!

  • Daniel Lutz said:

    Indeed, wonderful article! I’ll be doing my part to share what I can when I get the time. I really enjoyed this, keep it up!



  • Haisen Zhang said:

    A truely hearty account of what the U.S. education should do. If the author had gained no hands-on experience of the education in the East such as China and the West such as the United States and had lacked wisdom and insights about the weaknesses and strenghs of Chinese and US education,this book would not have been made possible. What he has proposed is the dream path of education not only for the United States but also for any country beyond it, I believe.

    You can lead the way, cath up, or stay in the middle way. It’s absolutely up to you to make that choice.

  • Laura Crandall said:

    Mr. Zhao,
    I heard you speak at a leadership conference for independent schools in October and was so inspired I bought your book, which I enjoyed enormously. Perhaps I am biased (being the Director of a Waldorf school), but I beleive a Waldorf education is one of the success stories in education today. I’m wondering if you are familiar with the Waldorf system?

  • Catching up or leading the way by Yong Zhao « Web 2.0 edu said:

    […] If anything, this book made me think of what I am doing personally in the classroom and gave me some ideas as to how I might change a few things to be more effective. If you want a good read that will make you think, pick up Catching up or leading the way. […]

  • Michael Mohan said:

    Dr. Zhao,
    I attended your San Antonio ASCD preentation entitled “American Education in the Age of Glogalization” and I would like to revisit your powerpoint notes. Since I didn’t notice them on the ASCD website, any chance you could email your presentation to me? Spring break gives me a good opportunity to reflect again on your presentation.
    Thank you for your consideration and help.
    Michael Mohan

  • People’s Republic of Standardization | Ecology of Education said:

    […] Zhao’s recently released book Catching Up or Leading the Way is a must read for educators and policy makers who want to see where our current high stakes testing […]

  • NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education | Ecology of Education said:

    […] of simply endorsing what is politically popular at this moment. As I wrote in my recent book, Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization: American education is at a crossroads. There are two paths in front of us: one in which we destroy […]

  • Surpassing Shanghai: Chapter 1 « The Principal's Principles said:

    […] Zhao is a leading authority on comparing Chinese and American education. His book “Catching Up or Leading the Way” is terrific and a possible #edfocus title. Here’s […]

  • ISTE 2012 San Diego « Teaching English using web 2.0 said:

    […] innovative education models.The first thing I did after the key note was to buy his book,  ”Catching up or leading the way“. He has a new one out these days, but it’s not available on the Kindle yet. Take a […]

Feel free to comment:

The views expressed on this site are entirely my own. They do not represent my employer or any other organization/institution. All comments are subject to approval.

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.