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The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World's Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom

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Discusses ways to improve the American educational system, arguing that the art of teaching is far more important than increased spending.


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Discusses ways to improve the American educational system, arguing that the art of teaching is far more important than increased spending.

30 review for The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World's Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shifting Phases

    By the time I finished reading this it had 50 sticky-notes protruding from the edges. Lots of very well-documented food for thought, based on the TIMSS study of 8th-graders around the world. In the 10th anniversary edition, they've studied a dozen or so countries, finding the US sorely lacking in math education. The diagnosis: focusing on definitions and procedures does not lead to understanding logic or relationships between ideas. The prescription: the underlying culture of teaching must be ch By the time I finished reading this it had 50 sticky-notes protruding from the edges. Lots of very well-documented food for thought, based on the TIMSS study of 8th-graders around the world. In the 10th anniversary edition, they've studied a dozen or so countries, finding the US sorely lacking in math education. The diagnosis: focusing on definitions and procedures does not lead to understanding logic or relationships between ideas. The prescription: the underlying culture of teaching must be changed, not merely the behaviour of individual teachers. Teachers must be trusted and empowered to become our own R&D lab, to implement slow, steady change. Preferably while working together. I appreciated the tone, which was far less academic than usual for an educational study. I also appreciated the frank evaluation of the field of educational research. "We must move beyond models of reform in which we try to replace one teaching method with another by distributing the written recommendations of experts." (p. 127) The result of this method is that, looking back over the last 50 years, "we can see fashions and trends... but we cannot see the kind of gradual improvement that marks true professions." (Does this mean that the dissemination of educational research constitutes pseudoteaching?) There's an interesting point about how teacher training is conducted (especially in-service). "Educators have becomeincreasingly aware of the importance of context in understanding and facilitating learning, but the arguments have been applied more often to students' learning than to teachers' learning." Teachers must become scholars of our own teaching in our own classrooms, not in "weekend workshops, university courses," where we are expected to learn something new, disconnected from [our] context, then hope it works" (p. 135, p. 144) back home. The authors specifically recommend restructuring in-service days by amortizing them over the year and using them for teacher collaboration. (p. 145) They promote this as a way to encourage reflection; if you value teachers' research, it creates in the teacher a temperament oriented to inquiry and a disposition toward investigating one's own practice." (p. 151) They also suggest that having opportunities to watch other teachers can create the desire to improve. (p. 152) The authors discuss some barriers to change, and one of them is lack of institutional memory and longevity ("typically, [superintendents] don't last long enough in their positions to follow through over long periods of time." p. 139) Another is a culture of mistrust. "The lack of confidence in teachers is not limited to public and political communities. Even educators display a certain skepticism of teachers' inclination or ability to improve teaching. Over the years, curriculum developers often have tried to create 'teacher-proof" curricula -- content that is to be presented to students in such a straightforward wy that it could not be distorted by incompetent teachers. There is also a long-standing degree of distrust between administrators and teachers, illustrated by the fact that principlas usually observe teachers only when it is time to evaluate them." (p. 170) The suggestions about professionalism line up eerily with Dan Meyer's comments about teacher review and malpractice: "Doctors don't try to figure out a new technique or procedure for every patient who comes into their office; they begin by using the standard techniques and procedures based on the experience of many doctors over the years. Nobody considers this a way of doctor-proofing medicine, although they do have a name for the failure to use standard practices -- it's malpractice." (p. 176) This provides an interesting light in which to see our culture of martyred heroes (a la Erin Gruwell). The authors emphasize teachers setting shared educational goals (p. 141). I wonder if this is possible before teachers have had the freedom to set their own goals (maybe implementing SBG or some similar thing in the classroom is a precondition). There were other interesting comments about assessment: "Even with clear goals, teachers cannot improve their practise unless they have access to a steady flow of information about the effectiveness of their teaching." (p. 142) There's some obvious constructivism here: we must develop the improvements, not simply receive them, if they are to be effective. Almost as interesting as the book were the other reviews on Goodreads. Some readers complained that it contained no best practises to be followed. In fact, I found quite a few (examples: p. 50: technique for memorization drill; p. 64: how to increase the coherence of a lesson). However, the authors notably found that collecting best-practises has not worked to change the underlying culture of teaching. On p. 189 they say "Rather than trying to imitate the techniques of teachers in other cultures, teachers should learn a variety of instructional strategies... they must also learn to monitor what students are experiencing, thinking, and learning during a lesson and be able to constantly readjust their strategies." While best practises may help specific teachers on specific days, we are in danger of confusing this with the systemic change we need.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katie Dunn

    The book is fairly short and easy to read, and I wish more books like this existed publicizing the results of large, international research studies. While I did not learn a ton from it (but did appreciate the rare chance to 'observe' an international classroom, not just as someone's high level interpretation, but grounded in the actual observations), and it was less dense and more "lots of clear background to make sure we are all on the same page" (not in a bad way; I find this laying out of ass The book is fairly short and easy to read, and I wish more books like this existed publicizing the results of large, international research studies. While I did not learn a ton from it (but did appreciate the rare chance to 'observe' an international classroom, not just as someone's high level interpretation, but grounded in the actual observations), and it was less dense and more "lots of clear background to make sure we are all on the same page" (not in a bad way; I find this laying out of assumptions helpful especially when talking about something many people have opinions on or take for granted), I thought it was a simple idea well communicated, had some interesting examples, and is a type of book I'd like to see more of. My only real gripe is the misleading title, as it was really more a case study of Japanese teaching with one real suggestion for the American education system (dissolve the teacher/researcher gap - but said with more nuance). I found very little to disagree with in the book. It was all stated well enough that it seems to make most sense to just quote large passages of it below. I wondered whether it would be outdated by decades, but no, so little has actually change (especially with mathematics, still). It is this way because “teaching is not a simple skill but rather a complex cultural activity that is highly determined by beliefs and habits that work partly outside the realm of consciousness. That teaching is largely a cultural activity helps to explain why, in the face of constant reform, so little has actually changed inside U.S. classrooms” Even when I learn about something and want to implement it in my classroom, it won't do much: “when one of us was working with a group of American teachers studying videotapes of Japanese mathematics instruction. After viewing the Japanese lessons, a fourth-grade teacher decided to shift from his traditional approach to a more problem-solving approach such as we had seen on the videotapes. Instead of asking short-answer questions as he regularly did, he began his next lesson by presenting a problem and asking students to spend ten minutes working on a solution. Although the teacher changed his behavior to correspond with the actions of the teacher in the videotape, the students, not having seen the video or reflected upon their own participation, failed to respond as the students on the tape did. They played their traditional roles. They waited to be shown how to solve the problem. The lesson did not succeed. The students are part of the system.” Indeed, I have tried, and was discouraged with the results and stopped. Students actively give me feedback to help them with their confusions more, and do what is clear and good for short term gains consistent with the types that I have seen. And it is even harder to do so embedded in a curriculum / system of other teachers that will give the same test. Reform rarely works as intended: “Teachers can misinterpret reform and change surface features—for example, they include more group work; use more manipulatives, calculators, and real-world problem scenarios; or include writing in the lesson—but fail to alter their basic approach to teaching mathematics.” (I see a lot of this) I can not imagine this below level of thought going into a lesson planned with my colleagues, though it is the type of thinking I do somewhat when I have time; I do not have the time or ability or motivation to think at this level by myself. This example illustrates teachers planning a lesson about subtraction with borrowing, and what they thought about for one problem: “Not long ago, the Vice-Principal (Ms. Furumoto) showed me several textbooks. All of those textbooks used 12 and 9 (i.e., 12 − 9 =) and 13 and 9. What most of the textbooks said was, they started out by introducing the Subtraction-Addition Method (Genkahoo). In the case of 13 − 9, first subtract the nine from ten (10 12 − 9 12 = 1), then add what is left over in the Is position (which is 3) to the number (1 + 3 = 4). I thought if you narrow it down like that (introducing subtraction with borrowing by teaching the Subtraction-Addition Method), it’s not very interesting. So on Saturday I suggested using 15 − 8, or 15 − 7. I thought that these are a little harder than 12 − 9 and 13 − 9. Using these numbers will bring out a lot more ideas or ways to solve the problem. But after reading a lot of different books on the subject, because kids can conceptualize in their heads about up to the number 6 at this age, I thought we should go with numbers like 11 − 6. “The teachers agreed that the choice of numbers would influence which strategies the students would try when solving the problem. But they had other concerns as well. For example, one teacher wanted to use 12 12 − 7, because one of her students, who was a low achiever, happened to have seven family members. Everyone agreed that this was a good idea. They also liked the number 12 because, since none of the students had fewer than three people in their families, subtracting the number of family members from 12 would involve decomposing ten, which was, of course, the point of the lesson. They briefly considered the number 13 instead of 12, but decided against it” I wondered this to myself when I started teaching: “Each day, vast numbers of U.S. teachers solve problems, try new approaches, and develop their own knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work in their own classrooms. Yet we have no way to harvest what even the most brilliant teachers have learned, no way to share that knowledge and use it to advance the professional knowledge base of teaching. U.S. teachers work alone, for the most part, and when they retire, all that they have learned is lost to the profession. Each new generation of teachers must start from scratch, finding its own way.” (Though it is not *quite* that bad today, it is still a clear problem to me; sites like Teachers Pay Teachers and such are ultimately a lot of busy work too, or worksheets that don't make sense outside the context they were designed) I'm surprised when students are surprised that I make my own slides. I have to - if I am not involved in that design process, I don't have a strong why for the lesson flow and what I am trying to convey today. I am often dissatisfied with the existing curricula because the flow of ideas doesn't make enough sense, embedded in what we have done yesterday and the week before and so on. The book sets 3 goals to be successful in becoming like the Japanese system 1) build consensus for continuous improvement This somewhat exists. Instead of going by leaps and bounds and legislation and reworking the whole thing, we should improve what we have. 2) set clear learning goals and align assessments to them I think this was largely done between when this book was published and now. There is *so* much focus on this. I think it's a good thing, that can go a little far, but probably an improvement. 3) Restructure schools as places where teachers can learn Definitely not, that I have seen. I could go on about that for a while, but no, I don't feel like this is true. Also, “Lesson study [the revision of lessons] is, at its core, a teacher activity. Teachers must make it work. True, it is impossible for teachers to initiate and sustain a vigorous program of lesson study without the active support of the school board, superintendent, principal, and parents. But the success of the activity ultimately depends on teachers.” I don't see a lot (by percentage) of teachers as interested in doing this by default. I do know teachers who do, and have found my physics colleagues really wonderful at this, and it's just so much better. But as the book suggests, most first-thought remedies: giving more time, more money, etc. - are not useful alone. The book is NOT about a certain way or style of teaching, but what it should mean to be a teacher. In their words, “a profession is created not by certificates and censures but by the existence of a substantive body of professional knowledge, as well as a mechanism for improving it, and by the genuine desire of the profession’s members to improve their practice”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    Recently I ate lunch with a work friend who loves math. In fact, I think she's just moonlighting as a computer programmer until she can figure out how to do math full time. That morning she had pointed me to Vi Hart's amazing math doodle videos and, not surprisingly, we wound up talking about them and how they do a brilliant job of making math fun and interesting. From there, our conversation touched on the various formative experiences the two of us had in learning about math as kids, our exper Recently I ate lunch with a work friend who loves math. In fact, I think she's just moonlighting as a computer programmer until she can figure out how to do math full time. That morning she had pointed me to Vi Hart's amazing math doodle videos and, not surprisingly, we wound up talking about them and how they do a brilliant job of making math fun and interesting. From there, our conversation touched on the various formative experiences the two of us had in learning about math as kids, our experiences with teaching or tutoring people in math, and the (many) woes of math education in the United States. Somewhere during the course of the conversation I remembered this book, which I originally read more than ten years ago. I remembered i as being a fascinating comparison of how math is taught in the US, Germany, and Japan, and recommended it to my friend as a way to get a broader look at math education in the US, and at what other countries are doing differently and better. My original plan was to bring the book to work the next day and give it to her, but when I pulled it off the bookshelf I started re-reading. So it took a bit longer to get it to her. This foundation for this book is a comparison of math education in the US, Germany, and Japan. A group of researchers took a random sample of schools in each country and went into them and video-taped an 8th grade math class from each school. By comparing what the saw in dozens of classes in each country, the researchers analyzed the differences in teaching styles between them. The book starts with the actual research, describing sample classes from the three countries and then generalizing about the differences in lesson content and style between them. Since the authors are academics, this section also includes information about their methodology---how they tried to ensure that they videotaped a random set of classes, how they encoded the types of behavior and activity they saw in the videos, etc. Personally, I found this interesting---I like understanding how people in other fields do research---but I can imagine that this could be pretty dry for other readers. But that is only the first part of the book, and although it was, for me, the most interesting part, it is really just the groundwork for the authors' primary argument. The authors describe the system of lesson study used in Japan. This is an ongoing process where each year teachers select a small number of topics to investigate. These may be very broad and abstract topics, such as, "How do we help students see both sides in an historical debate?" or very narrow, such as, "How do we help students start to understand the concept of 'borrowing' in subtraction?" The teachers meet regularly to discuss the topic, and typically prepare a new "lesson" which they try out in the classroom. They then write-up their results as a way of sharing their ideas and experience with peer teachers. The authors argue that by having the teachers involved in this ongoing introspection about what works and what doesn't work in the classroom, the teachers themselves become more invested in finding (and using) better methods of teaching, thus leading to a continuing improvement in the quality of education. And they make a strong case for bringing something similar to American education. They identify some of the cultural and bureaucratic obstacles and suggest ways to overcome them. As an engineer I was quite sympathetic to the argument in favor of lesson study. I, too, believe that the way you make any system better (whether hardware, software, or people) is to always be on the lookout for areas where there is room for improvement and then to figure out how to make them better. What is particularly appealing is that this general approach does not preclude any of the other ideas that people have come up with for improving education. It merely provides a vehicle for teachers to learn about them, reflect on what will work in their classroom, and discuss how to adapt ideas they believe in to their own lessons.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    A book that provided a lot of food for thought. It discusses the results of a world-wide study of eighth grade math teachers and the methods they use to educate their students. It shed light on the strange gap in education in the United States: the "professional" educators are not the people in the classrooms. "Researchers" know more about teaching than the people who teach every day. I've always been confused by this mindset and this book suggests a way that teachers could not only incrementall A book that provided a lot of food for thought. It discusses the results of a world-wide study of eighth grade math teachers and the methods they use to educate their students. It shed light on the strange gap in education in the United States: the "professional" educators are not the people in the classrooms. "Researchers" know more about teaching than the people who teach every day. I've always been confused by this mindset and this book suggests a way that teachers could not only incrementally improve their teaching, but also be seen as the professionals they are.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Phoenix

    On the Ethnography of Instruction This review is from: The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World's Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom (Paperback) This book is an overview of a TIMSS (Trends in International Math and Science) study on teaching methodology in grade 8 math in particular, but also mathematics teaching in general. I picked it up because one of my children was having problems with math and I suspected (I believe correctly) that the real problem was how it was being tau On the Ethnography of Instruction This review is from: The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World's Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom (Paperback) This book is an overview of a TIMSS (Trends in International Math and Science) study on teaching methodology in grade 8 math in particular, but also mathematics teaching in general. I picked it up because one of my children was having problems with math and I suspected (I believe correctly) that the real problem was how it was being taught. The main focus was a 1999 survey of classrooms in the United States, Germany and Japan where interactions between teachers and students were video-graphed. Each nationality was shown to have distinctive cultural differences in the approach to teaching. No surprisingly the American approach showed the poorest results - American classrooms had the least amount of exploration and concentrated on having the students plug in formulae and memorize terminology in order to generate "student success". In terms of academic advancement they appeared to be at least a year behind students of the other two nations. So what is the difference? Both the Japanese and Germans seem to devote a much higher amount of classroom time to semi-directed exploration by the students in groups. Rather than jazzing up the problem "to make it seem more relevant" the focus is how mathematical ideas relate to each other. Beyond that the book leaves the German example behind and concentrates on the Japanese model which has probably the best possible suggestion for improving education that I've ever come across - "kownaikenshu" is the term used, but in manufacturing it is called "kaizen" - continuous improvements. Teachers work on lessons together and, as part of the job, observe each other in groups in the classroom. In some of these scenarios there are more teacher observers in the classroom than there are students. Each type of problem is picked apart, kinds of student difficulties are cataloged and suggestions made on how to improve. And the class sizes are larger. In contrast the American teacher is left on their own and to a large extent their approach to teaching is based on their own experiences as a student. It's not their fault - it's a structural and cultural problem. Overall an excellent book! What I missed was a deeper examination of the German approach. Towards the end it falls a bit flat as it resorts to a polemic exhorting people to push for change. It's worth trying for the long term but I'm not that hopeful for any immediate payback. =

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy Jonecrantz

    This ended up being a very interesting read. I like how the authors helped moving the focus from individual teachers into teaching as a cultural practice - that could only be improved by a system letting teachers work together from within. It was also interesting and nice to read how there is not one single method (to be copied by others) for high student achievement. After reading this book I realize that I've misunderstood what Learning Study is and how it can be implemented - and I would like This ended up being a very interesting read. I like how the authors helped moving the focus from individual teachers into teaching as a cultural practice - that could only be improved by a system letting teachers work together from within. It was also interesting and nice to read how there is not one single method (to be copied by others) for high student achievement. After reading this book I realize that I've misunderstood what Learning Study is and how it can be implemented - and I would like to see the kind of work and "Case Study Journals" in Sweden that Japanese teachers have had access to for a long time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tashi Lhamo

    Must book for not just teacher but also for people associated with school administratio.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Books By Hala

    I had to read this book for my job. It was smooth, easy and quite interesting. The teaching gap talks about the different educational methods for the same topic (math) that are used in different countries, namely Germany, the USA and Japan. The book goes through analysing video evidence on lessons while identifying the positive and negative actions across the different case studies, in other words, you can say that the book is mainly a product of that specific study. The main finding revolved ar I had to read this book for my job. It was smooth, easy and quite interesting. The teaching gap talks about the different educational methods for the same topic (math) that are used in different countries, namely Germany, the USA and Japan. The book goes through analysing video evidence on lessons while identifying the positive and negative actions across the different case studies, in other words, you can say that the book is mainly a product of that specific study. The main finding revolved around the “style of teaching” as opposed to “teachers”. I recommend this for anyone working in the education sector.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Very interesting book/study that is clearly written, easy to grasp, and very practical. Basically, the US education system might want to shift the focus from teachers to teaching. One key way this can happen is through lesson study -- a common practice in Japan that demands grade level teachers work as a small team each year to meticulously design, teach, revise, reteach, and publish a single 40 minute lesson. Japan has made small incremental improvements over the years (through "small" detailed Very interesting book/study that is clearly written, easy to grasp, and very practical. Basically, the US education system might want to shift the focus from teachers to teaching. One key way this can happen is through lesson study -- a common practice in Japan that demands grade level teachers work as a small team each year to meticulously design, teach, revise, reteach, and publish a single 40 minute lesson. Japan has made small incremental improvements over the years (through "small" detailed teacher-based research/work, like lesson study) that have resulted in quite progressive education systems. The US, on the other hand, consistently opts for wide sweeping overhauls of reform every few years (always driven by researchers, politicians, and anyone who isn't actually working with students in a classroom) that have resulted in very little change in teaching since John Dewey's work in the early 1900s (who, by the way, was working with real teachers in real classrooms improving real teaching). Reading some of the negative reviews of this book (and others like it geared towards improving teaching and teachers), it seems like teachers themselves would rather blame the system than work as a small team to begin improving their profession. Teachers seem to want a magic trick (just tell me what to think, say, and do in the classroom!) to solve this issue. This book makes a great case that teaching is a cultural activity that can't be magic tricked into change. It requires meticulously thoughtful work that is often slow and small, but over time teachers can change teaching. Instead of trying to become champion teachers, we should be working to improve teaching. Great teachers come and go, but teaching will always be a part of our society. I can't wait to start teaching this upcoming school year and work with my team of grade level teachers as we take steps to improve teaching.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paulo Glez Ogando

    The Teaching Gap is a book based in a large research project, the TIMSS 1995 Video Study, which taped eighth grade maths classrooms in three countries (USA, Germany and Japan). The book can be divided in two parts, first an analysis of what happens in these countries and the pattern of some lessons taped, second the author's proposal to improve teaching in the USA. They found the Japanese pattern of teaching foreign and intriguing; they explain to us how Japanese develop a 'lesson study' and how The Teaching Gap is a book based in a large research project, the TIMSS 1995 Video Study, which taped eighth grade maths classrooms in three countries (USA, Germany and Japan). The book can be divided in two parts, first an analysis of what happens in these countries and the pattern of some lessons taped, second the author's proposal to improve teaching in the USA. They found the Japanese pattern of teaching foreign and intriguing; they explain to us how Japanese develop a 'lesson study' and how US education system should adopted that. As a result of the viewing of TIMSS videos they concluded that teaching is a cultural activity, because although they found variations between methods within the same country, cross-national differences were much greater. The explanation could be that teachers were previously students within that system (years before become a teacher themselves) and their teachers were also within the same system and using the same type of methods. Teachers replicate what they lived and learned and are conditioned by what society demands. In the TIMSS Study was only a high-achieving country in mathematics, Japan, and the authors found that teaching there appears to be based on attend to important mathematical relationships and involve students in doing serious mathematical work. They believe improvement will be effective focusing on teaching, not teachers. An individual development is not important, because teaching is a cultural activity, and although is clearly important to have better teachers, if the method is limited the teacher will remain limited, no matter how good he is. The Japanese 'lesson study', the method the authors copy to propose in the USA has an advantage over the American work: one single person is both teacher and researcher, and so teaching can improve and teachers can develop new skills. Sharing his knowledge, attending to others' classrooms, teachers can learn new methods and detect students' difficulties.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Roth

    I highly recommend reading The Teaching Gap. It's absolutely essential reading for anyone who is concerned about education, especially math education, in America today. The Teaching Gap was published in 1999 and summarizes and builds on the almost 300 classroom videos taken in US, German, and Japanese 8th grade math classrooms as part of the comprehensive TIMSS (third international math and science study). The results of the TIMSS inspired me as an educator back when I began teaching math in 1999 I highly recommend reading The Teaching Gap. It's absolutely essential reading for anyone who is concerned about education, especially math education, in America today. The Teaching Gap was published in 1999 and summarizes and builds on the almost 300 classroom videos taken in US, German, and Japanese 8th grade math classrooms as part of the comprehensive TIMSS (third international math and science study). The results of the TIMSS inspired me as an educator back when I began teaching math in 1999, and it's so interesting to read this book now in light of the current debate surrounding the Common Core State Standards. You can clearly see how the TIMSS laid the groundwork for the Common Core State Standards (adopted by most US states in 2010), how the CCSS were and are a response to the findings (situation) that the TIMSS uncovered. The Teaching Gap also helped remind me that Japanese-style lesson study is truly the best form of professional development for teachers and the best way to improve standard teaching practice in the US, "continually, gradually, and incrementally". I should know: I've spent the last 2 years as a math specialist training math teachers and trying to help them improve instruction and student learning. The change needs to come from within. It's wonderful to read this book and know that the CCSS have yet to be created, based on the takeaways from the TIMSS. I feel hopeful and am glad to have read this book. P.S. If The Teaching Gap sets the stage for the creation of the CCSS, then Tony Wagner's Global Achievement Gap is a wonderful complement that makes clear why the US needs to change its way of teaching if students are to succeed in the 21st century.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    The Teaching Gap was definitely a thought-provoking book. The central idea is that in order for U.S. students to perform better, the process of teaching needs to be improved not the actual teachers. This improvement can come in the form of implementing lesson studies into U.S. schools, thereby changing the teaching culture. I did agree with a lot of the points in the book. Many types of education reforms are targeted towards getting different teachers into the classroom. There are obviously bad The Teaching Gap was definitely a thought-provoking book. The central idea is that in order for U.S. students to perform better, the process of teaching needs to be improved not the actual teachers. This improvement can come in the form of implementing lesson studies into U.S. schools, thereby changing the teaching culture. I did agree with a lot of the points in the book. Many types of education reforms are targeted towards getting different teachers into the classroom. There are obviously bad teachers out there, but I would say most are effective and are concerned with helping students. If these teachers were teaching in more effective ways, U.S. performance would increase. It was really interesting to see the differences between the U.S., German, and Japanese classrooms. The authors did a great job of explaining how lesson study drives educational progress in Japan, but they never talk about how Germany does this. I am not 100% convinced that lesson study would solve all of the problems of the U.S. educational system, but I do believe that the U.S. system would improve if a lesson study culture was adopted. However, the authors never really address the differences between the U.S. and Japanese cultures. In Japan teachers have a more homogenized group where the culture places a strong emphasis on education. The differing U.S. culture present hurdles to U.S. education and the authors do not do a good enough job of exploring how this affects student learning and whether or not lesson study alone could clear that obstacle. Overall, it was a good read that made me think a lot about the education we provide in the U.S.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence Linnen

    Stigler and Hiebert compare mathematics teaching practices in Japan and Germany with those in the United States based on conclusions drawn from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Descriptions of actual videotaped lessons add credibility to the authors’ suggestion that most efforts to reform education fail because they do not impact the quality of teaching inside the classrooms. The authors noticed a lack of content coherence in American mathematics classrooms. Present Stigler and Hiebert compare mathematics teaching practices in Japan and Germany with those in the United States based on conclusions drawn from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Descriptions of actual videotaped lessons add credibility to the authors’ suggestion that most efforts to reform education fail because they do not impact the quality of teaching inside the classrooms. The authors noticed a lack of content coherence in American mathematics classrooms. Presenting problems in Japanese and German classrooms leads to in depth study and analysis of concepts, while the same activity in American classrooms leads to descriptive algorithmic approaches and extended practice. The authors argue that teaching is cultural and the lack of a system for improvement impedes educational improvement in the United States. It is teaching, say the authors, not teachers that must be changed. The authors discuss the research/teaching distinction, which places a high status to acquiring knowledge and a low status to applying it, has prevented the United States from implementing a system, sustained by teachers, for improving teachers.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    This book presents findings from a comparative study of American, German, and Japanese math teaching styles. The study tried to examine what could be done to improve teaching practices in the US to fill the unexplained educational gap that lags behind other developed nations. The authors advocate incorporating Japanese styles of instruction that emphasize complex problem solving in contrast to American styles of modeling and repetitive practice. It also advocated Japanese models of improving teac This book presents findings from a comparative study of American, German, and Japanese math teaching styles. The study tried to examine what could be done to improve teaching practices in the US to fill the unexplained educational gap that lags behind other developed nations. The authors advocate incorporating Japanese styles of instruction that emphasize complex problem solving in contrast to American styles of modeling and repetitive practice. It also advocated Japanese models of improving teaching through teacher study groups focused on case studies of lesson plans rather than the American model of researchers trying to tell teachers what the best practices are. These ideas are intriguing and I have already incorporated some of them. in class. They have a lot of power to influence how schools operate. The researchers have a few great points, but as is often the case, spend more ink than they needed getting them down on paper.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    This is one of my favorite books of the school year. It is based on a study that compared mathematics teaching in Germany, Japan, and the US. Though the US did not compare favorably, the authors explain the cultural differences that have lead to the disparity. The culture of our educational system in the US needs to be changed so that teaching can improve. The authors suggest creating a system similar to Japan's national education system but in the US a district level program would be more feasi This is one of my favorite books of the school year. It is based on a study that compared mathematics teaching in Germany, Japan, and the US. Though the US did not compare favorably, the authors explain the cultural differences that have lead to the disparity. The culture of our educational system in the US needs to be changed so that teaching can improve. The authors suggest creating a system similar to Japan's national education system but in the US a district level program would be more feasible. As an engineer, Japan's system of continuous improvement of education is similar to continuous improvement programs of manufacturing that I have seen implemented at US companies. I'm excited about the possibility of using the philosophy that people are not the problem but systems are to improve education.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Renay

    The author provided a wonderfully, readable summary of a research project comparing how teachers in the United States, Germany, and Japan teach mathematics. The author focuses upon teaching in the U.S. that focuses on facts, concepts and memorization and contrasting that with a problem based approach to teaching mathematics in Japan. The author concludes with ideas about professional development as practiced in Japan and how it could transform mathematics instruction in the U.S. A compelling ana The author provided a wonderfully, readable summary of a research project comparing how teachers in the United States, Germany, and Japan teach mathematics. The author focuses upon teaching in the U.S. that focuses on facts, concepts and memorization and contrasting that with a problem based approach to teaching mathematics in Japan. The author concludes with ideas about professional development as practiced in Japan and how it could transform mathematics instruction in the U.S. A compelling analysis with practical ideas about professional development that made me think about the nature of instruction in the United States and if those same conclusions can be drawn about other subjects such as science, social studies, and language arts.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rob Raish

    I think this book introduced me to some interesting ideas, but it got a little preachy towards the end. I really enjoyed the comparisons of different teaching styles of different countries, but it was all just used spread his own objective later in the book. I would not recommend this book to very many people and even those I would probably not recommend that they read the whole book. The book did validate some teaching techniques that I have already incorporated into my own classroom , which ma I think this book introduced me to some interesting ideas, but it got a little preachy towards the end. I really enjoyed the comparisons of different teaching styles of different countries, but it was all just used spread his own objective later in the book. I would not recommend this book to very many people and even those I would probably not recommend that they read the whole book. The book did validate some teaching techniques that I have already incorporated into my own classroom , which maybe kind of bad for my ego. I did enjoy the book and the fact that it only took me 4 or 5 days to read proves that it kept my attention, but it was not the best book and not the usually type of book that I read at all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Not what I expected at all. I expected more of multiple short stories about what worked in different teachers classrooms and how I could apply them. I felt like I was just reading a published study like I used to have to read in college. It was a book long study, complete with an introduction, methodologies, results, and implications. I walked away feeling like as a US teacher I should be doing more... but that all the things I could try myself won't really help, the only real help will be if sc Not what I expected at all. I expected more of multiple short stories about what worked in different teachers classrooms and how I could apply them. I felt like I was just reading a published study like I used to have to read in college. It was a book long study, complete with an introduction, methodologies, results, and implications. I walked away feeling like as a US teacher I should be doing more... but that all the things I could try myself won't really help, the only real help will be if schools get involved... and that's not really my call. I found myself seriously skimming by the end. If you want to read a book long study comparing US classrooms to Germany's and Japan's, then you will like this book. If you are looking at tips on how to teach, this isn't the book for you.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elgin

    Although it has been about 10 years since this book was published, it is still, today, a very pertinent commentary on mathematics education. Although the book focused on K-6 (with some 7-8) education, much of what it describes holds true even for college level mathematics education. Just as it is not part of the present day K-12 system for mathematics teachers to collaborate closely and exchange ideas about teaching on a regular basis, nor is it part of college mathematics teaching...especially in Although it has been about 10 years since this book was published, it is still, today, a very pertinent commentary on mathematics education. Although the book focused on K-6 (with some 7-8) education, much of what it describes holds true even for college level mathematics education. Just as it is not part of the present day K-12 system for mathematics teachers to collaborate closely and exchange ideas about teaching on a regular basis, nor is it part of college mathematics teaching...especially in environments where teaching takes the rumble seat to academic research. I will propose that our math education seminar group read this book together and hope we can get some groups interested in lesson development in some of our courses.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Heather C.

    This book is the result if a study in which education styles and philosophies of math teachers in Japan, Germany, and the U.S. were compared. I was surprised at the outcome because I thought the Japanese students would be higher achieving because the teachers were tyrannical dictators in the classroom. Actually, the opposite is true. Japanese classes excel because of the high expectations that are put on them, but the teacher guides them and helps them reach that in creative and supportive teach This book is the result if a study in which education styles and philosophies of math teachers in Japan, Germany, and the U.S. were compared. I was surprised at the outcome because I thought the Japanese students would be higher achieving because the teachers were tyrannical dictators in the classroom. Actually, the opposite is true. Japanese classes excel because of the high expectations that are put on them, but the teacher guides them and helps them reach that in creative and supportive teaching methods. The German results were kind of a mix between Japanese and America's styles, and were not discussed at length.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rosalind

    This book analyzes notable differences between systems of teaching in Germany, Japan, and the United States, without being judgmental about which is "better". Perhaps the most interesting and relevant feature of the book is the analysis of the available tools for reform available to Japanese and American educators. Compared to some books on education, this book is much less theoretical, and actually concludes with some practical suggestions about steps that might lead to substantial (vs. superfi This book analyzes notable differences between systems of teaching in Germany, Japan, and the United States, without being judgmental about which is "better". Perhaps the most interesting and relevant feature of the book is the analysis of the available tools for reform available to Japanese and American educators. Compared to some books on education, this book is much less theoretical, and actually concludes with some practical suggestions about steps that might lead to substantial (vs. superficial) changes to the way we teach).

  22. 5 out of 5

    kate

    I can't really rate this; kudos to its authors for a practical & intriguing study, but not for presenting it in any way that is even remotely interesting. I am always at a loss to explain as to how education books (& university courses) can be so forward-thinking & up for new and exciting reforms, but remain stiflingly boring in their presentation of that material. This book is useful for reading the points that count, skimming through the rest, and forming your own opinions as to its applicatio I can't really rate this; kudos to its authors for a practical & intriguing study, but not for presenting it in any way that is even remotely interesting. I am always at a loss to explain as to how education books (& university courses) can be so forward-thinking & up for new and exciting reforms, but remain stiflingly boring in their presentation of that material. This book is useful for reading the points that count, skimming through the rest, and forming your own opinions as to its application.

  23. 5 out of 5

    angrykitty

    this was a book i read for work. it was actually a book that my coworkers had read a few years back, but it was one whose theories were still being used. it was interesting to see why exactly japanese schools perform better than american schools, but since their entire system is so different, it was hard for me to really see how it's beneficial for us schools to look at this book unless they are really ready to blow their whole system up and start anew. this was a book i read for work. it was actually a book that my coworkers had read a few years back, but it was one whose theories were still being used. it was interesting to see why exactly japanese schools perform better than american schools, but since their entire system is so different, it was hard for me to really see how it's beneficial for us schools to look at this book unless they are really ready to blow their whole system up and start anew.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Really interesting book which focuses on the importance of improving teaching through lesson study, thus focusing on what actually works in the classroom and what students respond to. We tend to focus on teachers, their knowledge of their subject matter (which is very important) but not so much on how they get students to learn. Since this book was written in 1999, it makes me wonder what impact the book's findings have had on teaching today. Really interesting book which focuses on the importance of improving teaching through lesson study, thus focusing on what actually works in the classroom and what students respond to. We tend to focus on teachers, their knowledge of their subject matter (which is very important) but not so much on how they get students to learn. Since this book was written in 1999, it makes me wonder what impact the book's findings have had on teaching today.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    This book was published in 1999 so the information was dated. However, it was interesting to read comparisons of teaching from Japan, Germany and the US. They reported on differences in interruptions in US classes, US teachers do not have joint lesson planning time and US teachers are not encouraged to watch and critique teaching strategies. It was a good read and could be helpful is a school system has yet to move forward with their teaching strategies.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    The afterword in this book is huge and could greatly impact one's understanding of its message. To improve education, we must not focus on teachers, but on teaching, and provide teachers with opportunities to collaboratively improve teaching. Successful teachers facilitate the recognition of relationships between topics. The afterword in this book is huge and could greatly impact one's understanding of its message. To improve education, we must not focus on teachers, but on teaching, and provide teachers with opportunities to collaboratively improve teaching. Successful teachers facilitate the recognition of relationships between topics.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ted Graham

    A great look at the TIMS data, the second edition shows that despite the intervening reforms in education over the last decade and a half this wor is still relvant and maybe even more so because of the shifts in reform. Worth a read for anyone that has a vested interest in math instruction in schools in this country.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Kamphuis

    Really enjoyed this book and all of the insights that it had to share. I was particularly interested in what the book had to share about lesson studies in Japan and the role that they play in improving the quality of education there. I will definitely be implementing many of the ideas in this book into my own practice!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sheralyn Belyeu

    This is a very humbling book. These examples show how teachers can become more effective by paying attention to details and learning from each other. Small changes from within the teaching profession, not imposed by outside politicians, can bring about big results.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Raenuka Mallikarjun

    This gives insight into the teachings in other countries compared to the US. They look at teaching in Japan, Germany, and the US and compare the teaching in math. This book makes the reader think about teaching math in the US and how it is very different from other countries.

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