West Meets East: Best Practices from Expert Teachers in the U.S. and China

West Meets East: Best Practices from Expert Teachers in the U.S. and China

West Meets East: Best Practices from Expert Teachers in the U.S. and China

West Meets East: Best Practices from Expert Teachers in the U.S. and China


The United States and China: two nations drastically different in demographics, history, political structures, and education systems. Despite these differences, educators in each country have discovered they have much to learn from one another. The United States looks east and is captivated by the high assessment scores that many Chinese students achieve. China looks west and is enamored with how the United States fosters innovation and creativity in students. Teachers are increasingly looking across borders to expand, adapt, and offer their students a more balanced education.

West Meets East is based on the fundamental premise that strong teaching is at the heart of educational quality and that we all benefit from understanding the practices and professional thinking of exemplary teachers. With this in mind, Grant and her colleagues set out to discover which beliefs and strategies of effective teachers can cross the cultural divide and help students in each nation make breakthrough advances.

As educators, it's important to understand that even though we're setting new goals and improving outcomes, excellence is a moving target. In the globally connected 21st century, educational innovations in one country can reset the bar for students around the world. Only by learning from one another can we be sure all our students remain competitive and successful.


The impact of globalization is rapidly posing new and demanding challenges to individuals and societies. In this globalized world, people compete for jobs—not just locally but also internationally. At the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum on November 8, 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan acknowledged that “education and global job markets are much more competitive today than even a generation ago,” but he also noted that educators and nations need to work together to advance “achievement and attainment everywhere” (U.S. Department of Education, 2012, p. 1). Inherent in this statement is the notion that schools and students in the United States must remain competitive in order to support tomorrow’s economy and American prosperity. Developing new cohorts of highly qualified and competitive workers requires a high-quality education system in every local community.

The United States must remain competitive globally, but it also needs to ensure that graduates have the skills necessary to enter a workforce that didn’t even exist when they started school. Employment in the professional, scientific, technical, and computer systems fields—all fields that rely heavily on logic, reasoning, and critical thinking—is expected to increase by 45 percent by 2018 (U.S. Department of Labor, 2010).

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