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Published twenty years ago, the original Preschool in Three Cultures was a landmark in the study of education: a profoundly enlightening exploration of the different ways preschoolers are taught in China, Japan, and the United States. Here, lead author Joseph Tobin—along with new collaborators Yeh Hsueh and Mayumi Karasawa—revisits his original research to discover how two Published twenty years ago, the original Preschool in Three Cultures was a landmark in the study of education: a profoundly enlightening exploration of the different ways preschoolers are taught in China, Japan, and the United States. Here, lead author Joseph Tobin—along with new collaborators Yeh Hsueh and Mayumi Karasawa—revisits his original research to discover how two decades of globalization and sweeping social transformation have affected the way these three cultures educate and care for their youngest pupils. Putting their subjects’ responses into historical perspective, Tobin, Hsueh, and Karasawa analyze the pressures put on schools to evolve and to stay the same, discuss how the teachers adapt to these demands, and examine the patterns and processes of continuity and change in each country. Featuring nearly one hundred stills from the videotapes, Preschool in Three Cultures Revisited artfully and insightfully illustrates the surprising, illuminating, and at times entertaining experiences of four-year-olds—and their teachers—on both sides of the Pacific.


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Published twenty years ago, the original Preschool in Three Cultures was a landmark in the study of education: a profoundly enlightening exploration of the different ways preschoolers are taught in China, Japan, and the United States. Here, lead author Joseph Tobin—along with new collaborators Yeh Hsueh and Mayumi Karasawa—revisits his original research to discover how two Published twenty years ago, the original Preschool in Three Cultures was a landmark in the study of education: a profoundly enlightening exploration of the different ways preschoolers are taught in China, Japan, and the United States. Here, lead author Joseph Tobin—along with new collaborators Yeh Hsueh and Mayumi Karasawa—revisits his original research to discover how two decades of globalization and sweeping social transformation have affected the way these three cultures educate and care for their youngest pupils. Putting their subjects’ responses into historical perspective, Tobin, Hsueh, and Karasawa analyze the pressures put on schools to evolve and to stay the same, discuss how the teachers adapt to these demands, and examine the patterns and processes of continuity and change in each country. Featuring nearly one hundred stills from the videotapes, Preschool in Three Cultures Revisited artfully and insightfully illustrates the surprising, illuminating, and at times entertaining experiences of four-year-olds—and their teachers—on both sides of the Pacific.

30 review for Preschool in Three Cultures Revisited: China, Japan, and the United States

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roslyn

    Fifty years ago there was daycare for poor people, but otherwise kids were raised by their parents. Preschool didn't really exist. Today preschool is universal in all developed countries except the US. Americans are the last holdouts, refusing to allow the government to raise their children (some of them, it is becoming fairly universal even here). In China in the 80's the government pushed preschool on the people because of the one-child policy. "Children will be spoiled with too much attention Fifty years ago there was daycare for poor people, but otherwise kids were raised by their parents. Preschool didn't really exist. Today preschool is universal in all developed countries except the US. Americans are the last holdouts, refusing to allow the government to raise their children (some of them, it is becoming fairly universal even here). In China in the 80's the government pushed preschool on the people because of the one-child policy. "Children will be spoiled with too much attention if they stay home." In Japan (and Europe) preschool was pushed on the people because of the low birthrate. Preschool was "free childcare" and would supposedly encourage women to have more children. (This didn't work but the preschool remains.) In the US the most successful argument for preschool so far has been equality--only low income families get preschool for free to give their kids a head start to compete with the other kids. Other interesting things I learned from this book: -In China up until twenty years ago, all toilets were squatting troughs and people went to the bathroom together, as many as twenty people could go to the bathroom at one time. No stalls. People literally hung out and went pee and poop and talked while they did do. "Body modesty" apparently is associated with modernization. -In China people critique one another (including children) in ways that would be considered "mean" in the US. -In China children play with guns and parents see this as the children respecting the soldiers in the army. -In Japan teachers are physical with the children, not afraid to touch their bodies, cuddle them, correct them, etc. -They practice what seems to us as extreme non-intervention, allowing most aggression between children -The older children in the preschool take turns helping out in the toddler and infant rooms! -There is no embarrassment in talking about the body or its functions -They don't tell kids to use their words but rather to listen -"Saying something hurtful to another person makes YOU sad" is the message they give young children. I.e. the mean kid is sad to be mean. In the US we try to get the kids to imagine how sad the other person must feel, rather than focusing how painful it is to be mean to someone for yourself. -The Japanese think US preschool teachers interrupt the kids too much preventing them from using their own judgements in disagreements. *Note RIE childrearing techniques advocate the Japanese method but prevents the violence. -Immigrants are usually more interested in their kids learning English than they are in keeping their native language. When we instruct their kids in Spanish or Chinese, we are not respecting their actual wishes but insisting that we know what is best. -The makes a preschool American is small class sizes, seen as lonely to Asians, and the emphasis on choice, choice within structure. We are always asking our children to choose things and focusing on their individuality.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    This is required reading for my Comparative Education class. The first 90 pages are about China (my research interest) and so far the book is super interesting. Tobin went to Japan, China, and the US in 1985 and conducted research on a representative preschool. He returned to each country in 2007 and conducted similar research. He was interested in finding out what has changed and what has stayed the same. He found that there had been major shifts in how preschools were run in all three countrie This is required reading for my Comparative Education class. The first 90 pages are about China (my research interest) and so far the book is super interesting. Tobin went to Japan, China, and the US in 1985 and conducted research on a representative preschool. He returned to each country in 2007 and conducted similar research. He was interested in finding out what has changed and what has stayed the same. He found that there had been major shifts in how preschools were run in all three countries. Perhaps the most surprising info was that the Japanese and Chinese preschools had adopted more of Western ideals in terms of children need freedom to play and interact while the US preschool had shifted more towards standardized tests and rote memorization. This book is very well researched and supported. It was really interesting reading about the different cultures and the differences in schooling and school systems. I thought the Chinese part was overly concerned with the toilets, but other than that, I thought this ethnography was very well done.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Teagan Potter

    Although used as a textbook for my International Education class, I found the writing and content to be intriguing. That being said, however, I felt as if the authors had a very specific goal in mind when they began to write this book and the evidence that they collected did not support this goal. Usually, this is fine, as in most good research projects, the goal changes and morphs to form a more educated thesis. However, I feel as if the authors did not really morph their goal. In addition, the Although used as a textbook for my International Education class, I found the writing and content to be intriguing. That being said, however, I felt as if the authors had a very specific goal in mind when they began to write this book and the evidence that they collected did not support this goal. Usually, this is fine, as in most good research projects, the goal changes and morphs to form a more educated thesis. However, I feel as if the authors did not really morph their goal. In addition, there were a few preschools that they said did not represent the country very well. If that is the case of an ethnography, why would they continue to use these schools as prime examples? I question the information I am receiving from this book only because it is extremely subjective. I will have to watch the film to see if my opinion is changed at all, but then again, even that is cut so the authors can just show what they want to show. The whole book seemed a bit iffy to me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Davie

    AMAZING. Like Collapse, I possibly would not like this book so much if I were a specialist, but it was a perfect introduction to the topic of early childhood education for a non-education, non-anthropology person such as myself. What are the key components of a great society and a good citizen? How can you break these values down into teachable components and targeted prerequisites that can be taught to the youngest members of that society? Each country's approach to preschool education is their AMAZING. Like Collapse, I possibly would not like this book so much if I were a specialist, but it was a perfect introduction to the topic of early childhood education for a non-education, non-anthropology person such as myself. What are the key components of a great society and a good citizen? How can you break these values down into teachable components and targeted prerequisites that can be taught to the youngest members of that society? Each country's approach to preschool education is their way of answering these questions. Reading the first P3C book is not at all required for thorough enjoyment of Revisited. The videos are a must-see accompaniment. I'd recommend reading the introductory chapters which explain the logic, then watch the videos, then gobble up the chapters that discuss each video. You can check the DVD out from a library for free (e.g., university school of ed collection). Unfortunately the clips are not really on youtube, and Tobin charges $85 for you to have your own copy. The approach is to film a typical day in three preschools in three countries: USA, Japan, China. You see kids arriving, moving through the various activities including play, bathroom, nap, and eating breaks, and then going home. They authors then use these videos as the impetus for starting a discussion (multivocal ethnography, if you want to get fancy about it) about larger topics than just what happened in that particular school on that particular day. The discussion includes the teachers in the video who explain the reasoning behind their teaching choices, and other people inside and outside each country, working in eduction directly or as research scholars, etc. A pretty good mix. It's basically the same approach they authors used in the original P3C book, only the videos from the 1980s and 2000s are separated by approximately 20 years. The book does a great job of giving you a sense of where the particular examples fit in the range of variability within these countries, and also what the central policy changes and current disputes are in the three countries, at least to an outsiders eye. This is the "revisited" part. Additionally, the authors include three new schools (total of six), one in each country chosen for contrast. The focus is on cultural beliefs -- these include beliefs about childhood, teaching, children's needs and abilities, what makes a good sociey, etc -- although there is also useful context given about governmental, economic, and demographic / SES factors. The star of the book in degree of change is definitely China. The authors include brief clips of the 1980s video of Daguan in the main 2000s video. Wow. The contrastive school example, Sinanlu, was also extraordinary. If it weren't in Shanghai, it would be the school I'd send my own kids to. The Chinese and Japanese preschool videos made me think about what opportunities kids are missing when teachers intervene too quickly, too often, and with too much direction (telling vs. asking). You see this a lot in the US schools, it made me sad. Excellent treatment of east asian cultural differences, which are real, without imparting the flavor of mystical fortune cookie Confucian beard twirling. They also spend a lot of time defending themselves from the numerous critiques and complaints they've received in the intervening 20 years since P3C. From these numerous asides, you quickly understand that P3C and P3C Revisited are much discussed in the early childhood education world. As a result, the book does a great job of summarizing what the main questions are in the field, what erroneous assumptions and interpretations are possible from only watching the videos without reading the accompanying text, and so on. Overall, the discussion seemed appropriately nuanced without being too wonky. Conclusion: this book does not put a lid on the topic and tie it up in a bow -- but it does what it sets out to do well, in language that is engaging and shows how much the authors genuinely care about these issues and the individuals they've followed for over 20 years. READ IT!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amir A. Sabbagh

    Tobin and his co-authors pursue a research program in accordance with what Carnoy(2006) suggested as methods for comparative educational research in his CIES presidential address. The study looks at three countries and six regions, using the same methods of data collection and analysis in each. The authors studied the change and continuity of each preschool, one country and one region at a time, within the context of economic change,modernization and globalization. They compared the results of th Tobin and his co-authors pursue a research program in accordance with what Carnoy(2006) suggested as methods for comparative educational research in his CIES presidential address. The study looks at three countries and six regions, using the same methods of data collection and analysis in each. The authors studied the change and continuity of each preschool, one country and one region at a time, within the context of economic change,modernization and globalization. They compared the results of the studies across time and space and concluded that the studied preschools are all moving through history, but do not necessarily follow a common path. These research models helped me toward better understanding of the changes that have occurred within a preschool through time, as well as help clarify the distinctions among two schools that are located in different regions, with the purpose of explicating the cultural dimensions of early childhood education within a nation. Finally, the comparison of various nations’ approaches to and direction for preschools shed valuable insights. We learn that by preserving Confucian and socialist values, China focuses on didactic pedagogy and a child-centered approach to foster independence, creativity and rights of the child. “Education of the heart” is Japan's main emphasis and a potential solution for the negative effects of (post) modernization and social isolation. In the United States, early childhood educators, primarily concerned with policies and the accreditation, are seen working toward the formulation of a curriculum which is academically rigorous and, at the same time, developmentally appropriate.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Oi Yin

    Tobin et. al returned to the sites of the three schools they had originally compared in the mid-80s and incorporated three additional schools (one from each country) after taking into consideration that not all schools are created equal, even within the same country. It was fascinating to see how much things remained the same, even as other aspects of the education system changed. For instance, it seem the culture holds constant, across societies even as school structure and curriculum change. I Tobin et. al returned to the sites of the three schools they had originally compared in the mid-80s and incorporated three additional schools (one from each country) after taking into consideration that not all schools are created equal, even within the same country. It was fascinating to see how much things remained the same, even as other aspects of the education system changed. For instance, it seem the culture holds constant, across societies even as school structure and curriculum change. It also makes the reader wonder about what exactly school reform does as schools shift from one extreme to the other. Just as the Japanese are moving away from a system of rote learning towards more creative development, the US has become this culture of testing and teaching to the test. Can it be said that one way is better than another? In an area where there are so many constantly shifting factors, can a "formula" be created to ensure academic success? It seems the questions cannot be answered until these concepts can be better defined. Is success scoring well on standardized exams that simply compare students at the same grade level across schools? Is success providing students with the tools to think critically and problem-solve efficiently? Is success raising the overall literacy rates? Is success getting every child in school? I think, as Einstein, put it, "it's all relative". We must gauge progress based on the starting point, only then would we be able to aspire to a higher level of "success".

  7. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Required reading for HDP 133 - Socio-Cultural Foundations at UCSD. I really enjoyed the concept and presentation of video documenation as form of cultural study. Best when coupled with the actual video clips, I was able to see them in lecture but the DVD was not included with my copy of the text.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I did not expect to enjoy this nearly as much as I did! Easy to read and entertaining!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I read this for one of my classes, but it was extremely interesting and I enjoyed it (especially for being a book I HAD to read).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Norm

    Very very interesting!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Great because more than being an academic text it allows any individual to peer through the values that make up and divide cultures.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Merika Kallio

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Sorin

  15. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shyann Kilgore

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carola Munoz

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Gosling

  19. 5 out of 5

    Liza

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hailey Breitenfeld

  21. 4 out of 5

    Justine Francis

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Low

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mollie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ilana

  25. 4 out of 5

    Silje

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meguchan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kay Strain

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Hayes

  29. 5 out of 5

    A K

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily Andrea

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