September 21st, 2020

// Academic Mediocrity of American Students Examined in Thought-Provoking Comparison of Educational Approaches

Academic Mediocrity of American Students Examined in Thought-Provoking Comparison of Educational Approaches 

Brooklyn, NY, September 21, 2020 — East Asian students have always gained higher scores on the international comparative tests than American students. How can this be explained?

In A Mirror for Americans: What the East Asian Experience Tells Us about Teaching Students Who Excel, Dr. Cornelius Grove provides the explanation. Distilling 50 years of anthropological research into East Asian primary classrooms, Grove offers insights into East Asian teaching methods and, more significantly, into the societal values that shape East Asian teaching.

But A Mirror for Americans, about teaching, provides only half of the explanation. The other half is about East Asian families and parenting, revealed by Grove in his 2017 book, The Drive to Learn: What the East Asian Experience Tells Us about Raising Students Who Excel.  

“The purpose of my books,” explains Grove, “is to convey to the general reader the research findings from East Asia, where societal values unlike ours shape child-rearing and primary school teaching. There’s an ‘Aha!’ moment: If only we could think differently about children and their classroom learning, we could raise the level of our own youngsters’ performance.” 

A Mirror for Americans concerns itself with preschool through grade 5, comparing the culture of teaching in East Asia and the U.S. Among the research-generated facts revealed are these:

  • In preschool and grade 1, East Asian children are taught, and they practice, individual and group behaviors that promote their own learning and their teacher’s efficient lesson delivery. 
  • Teachers design lessons based on the internal logic of the content they are teaching, not on factors such as a need to motivate, have fun learning or draw out pupil creativity. But they do strive to present content so that alltheir pupils – slower and more advanced – will benefit.  
  • Whether a lesson is student-centered or teacher-centered doesn’t concern East Asians. Grove’s conclusion is that East Asian lessons are knowledge-centered, a key explanation for why East Asian students outperform their American peers on those international tests.  

Explains Grove, “Attitudes toward learning brought from home, plus methods of teaching encountered at school, mold East Asian youngsters into superior students. These research-generated facts can serve as a mirror for Americans, enabling us to examine our approaches to children’s learning – and to the values that drive our approaches – from a fresh perspective.”

Author Cornelius N. Grove holds a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Johns Hopkins and a Doctor of Education from Columbia. An independent scholar, his “day job” since 1990 has been as the managing partner of the global business consultancy, Grovewell LLC.

Grove has had a decades-long fascination with the cultural factors that affect children’s ability to learn in school. At a 2005 conference in Singapore, he delivered a paper on the two instructional styles found around the world. In 2013 he wrote The Aptitude Myth: How an Ancient Belief Came to Undermine Children's Learning Today, a historical study of why most Americans believe that inborn ability determines school performance. For two recently published encyclopedias (2015 and 2017), he contributed entries on “pedagogy across cultures.” And now with A Mirror for Americans and The Drive to Learn, he is revealing the complementary roles that home and school potentially play in building young people’s mastery of school learning.

For more information, please visit

A Mirror for Americans: What the East Asian Experience Tells Us about Teaching Students Who Excel 

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, Maryland)

Release Date: September 2020

Hardback:      ISBN 978-1-4758-4460-3

Paperback:    ISBN 978-1-4758-4461-0   

eBook:            ISBN 978-1-4758-4462-7

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