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The Teaching Gap


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About the Author

James Stigler, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at UCLA and Director of the TIMSS video studies, is coauthor of Simon & Schuster's highly praised book The Learning Gap: Why Our Schools Are Failing and What We Can Learn from Japanese and Chinese Education. He lives in Los Angeles.

James Hiebert, Ph.D., is H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Education at the University of Delaware and coauthor of the popular book for teachers, Making Sense: Teaching and Learning Mathematics with Understanding. He lives in Kemblesville, Pennsylvania.


Stigler (psychology, UCLA) and Hiebert (education, Univ. of Delaware, Newark) present the findings of their revolutionary Third International Mathematics and Science Study, a groundbreaking international study of videotaped classroom lessons. Comparing math education in the United States with Japanese and German teaching practices, Stigler and Hiebert document exactly how Japan and Germany have consistently stayed ahead of the teaching and learning curve and present a bold challenge to prevailing views of educational reform. In Chapter 6, "Teaching Is a Cultural Activity," the authors argue that teaching should be viewed as something akin to family dinners; educators ought to emulate Japanese and German teachers, who foster a productive classroom culture instead of relying so heavily on computers and overhead projectors. Written in clear, jargon-free prose, this book is for teachers, school administrators, policymakers, politicians, and concerned parents. Recommended for all libraries.ÄSamuel T. Huang, Northern Illinois Univ. Libs., DeKalb Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Offering a detailed comparison of the educational methods of Germany, Japan and the U.S., the authors dissect the information gleaned from a pioneering effort to videotape instruction in a representative sample of 231 eighth-grade math classrooms in the three countries, as a part of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Stigler, a professor of psychology at UCLA, and Hiebert, a professor of education at the University of Delaware, found that, overall, the international samples emphasize weaknesses in the American educational process that may not be overcome by reducing class size or adding school choice and vouchers, more technology or charter schools. Only seven countries out of the 41 nations surveyed in the TIMSS study scored lower than the U.S.: Cyprus, Portugal, South Africa, Kuwait, Iran and Colombia. Using simple graphs and sample data, they reveal that Japanese teachers stress understanding and thinking while German and American teachers emphasize skills. Despite a wealth of complex information, the book never lapses into academic jargon or trite conclusions. Especially illuminating are the recommendations in its final chapters, which call for overhauling the teaching profession with higher status, greater pay, stricter certification requirements, more accountability, better peer review and more demanding academic standards. For anyone interested in the quality of American education, this impressive book is a critical resource. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Lee S. Shulman President, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching A revolutionary book...brilliantly documents the ways in which America's teaching, rather than its teachers, contributes to deficits in student learning. Stigler and Hiebert help us recognize how many opportunities other nations' teachers have to learn from one another and to improve as professionals. The Teaching Gap offers far better hope for the improvement of American education than most other initiatives.

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