Why Do Eastern and Western Kids Learn Differently?

Raised in Maoist China, Jin Li says culture has as strong an effect on learning as schools do. Credit: Frank Mullin/Brown University

In her book Cultural Foundations of Learning: East and West, Associate Professor of Education Jin Li offers these two discussions to demonstrate that, by the time they are four years old, children have already developed distinctive learning styles shaped by their cultures. “As learners we are products of our culture,” she says, “which has been passed down by generations of grandparents and parents.” That, she says, influences learning far more than any particular school curriculum.