Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review, Columns

Ancient Chinese Divination

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI`I PRESS, 2008 142 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0824832766, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Diana Marston-Wood This compact volume, part of the Dimensions of Asian Spirituality series, provides an excellent introduction to Chinese divination and does so without unnecessary complexity. Stephen Field points out that any study of Chinese culture should focus on divination, since it influenced the fields of “medicine, science, government, and most importantly, philosophy and religion....

Book Review, Columns

Helen Foster Snow: An American Woman in Revolutionary China

For those who entered the Asian Studies field in the 1970s, the names Edgar Snow and Helen Snow (Helen wrote under the pseudonym Nym Wales) “loomed large.” These two individuals, along with Agnes Smedley, Israel Epstein, and Rewi Alley, wrote extensively about the Chinese Communist Party and became advocates for understanding and supporting its policies during the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s. The Snows both visited (on separate occasions) the Communist Yan’an base during the years ...

Curriculum Materials Review, Resources

Guide for Teaching Ancient China: A Publication of Primary Source, 2001

This Ancient China guide constitutes an extremely valuable addition to curriculum resources for elementary and middle school teachers. Drawing on the collective experience and creativity of several dozen primarily Massachusetts teachers plus the Primary Source staff, the twenty-eight lessons address a wide range of topics and teaching methods/practices. In the opening statement of purpose, the authors describe the unit as “designed for use in the fourth grade but is easily adaptable for use in...

Feature Article

Using the Concept “Feudalism” to Compare Japan with Europe: Words of Caution

WITH THE GROWTH OF THE WORLD HISTORY MOVEMENT, MANY ASIAN SPECIALISTS ARE CLEARLY FOCUSED ON THE INTEGRATION OF ASIAN MATERIAL INTO A WORLD HISTORY FRAMEWORK. THREE YEARS AGO A COLLEAGUE AND I DEVELOPED A UNIT USING JAPANESE "FEUDALISM" AS ITS CORE. OUR GOALS INCLUDED A FOCUS ON LITERATURE AS A TOOL FOR TEACHING ABOUT JAPAN'S HISTORY AS WELL AS A CLEARLY DEFINED CONNECTION WITH THE WORLD HISTORY STANDARDS. THE COMPLETE PROJECT, INCLUDING A CHART COMPARING EUROPEAN AND JAPANESE "FEUDALISM" CAN BE...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square

This thirty-minute film presents a vividly artistic and highly personal view of China, especially during the period 1960 through 1989. Truly unique is the fascinating mix of graphics which the filmmaker, Shui-Bo Wang, utilizes to convey impressions of his life. Wang mixes cartoon animation with both black-and-white still photos and colorful propaganda pictures. He never uses video clips; instead, Wang himself manipulates still images to convey the movement he wishes. For instance, he shows a ske...

Book Review, Resources

Japanese Lessons: A Year in a Japanese School through the Eyes of an American Anthropologist and Her Children

BY GAIL R. BENJAMIN NEW YORK AND LONDON: NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1997 241 PAGES + APPENDIX + INDEX Reviewed by Diana Marston-Wood This wonderful new study of Japan’s elementary school system is valuable for us in three distinct ways: as required student reading, in part or in its entirety, within high school or college classes; as teachers trying to understand how Japanese culture works; and as American adults, teachers, and often parents, concerned about the American educational system...

Feature Article

Chinese Religion: Ideas for Effective Instruction at the High School Level

Due to its impressive length and extensive documentation, China’s history presents many challenges for high school teachers. We know that all periods and cultural characteristics of China’s historical record cannot be covered; so what should we emphasize? Typically, we may have, at most, one month in which to explore the essence of Chinese culture. This often occurs in a course where students focus briefly on numerous widely disparate cultures. No matter how much time is available, however, ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

China’s Cosmopolitan Age: The Tang (618–907 A.D.)

CHUNGWEN SHIH AND ANDREW PLAKS THE ANNENBERG/CPB COLLECTION 1993. 60 MINUTES China’s Cosmopolitan Age: The Tang incorporates valuable images and broad cultural and historical understandings. This videotape will enhance Asian surveys at the college level as well as term-contained Chinese history courses. For high school students the film will prove effective within both world history and world culture courses. But at neither the college nor high school level do I recommend the film’s use ...

Book Review, Resources

The Examination

BY MALCOLM BOSSE NEW YORK: FARRAR, STRAUS, AND GIROUX, 1994 296 PAGES Reviewed by Diana Marston-Wood During this past fall a friend who specializes in young people’s literature steered me toward an intriguing novel of traditional China—the year 1448, to be exact! This story focuses on the functioning of the exam system in a way which is suspenseful, historically accurate to a reasonable degree, and conveyed through the eyes of teenagers. I think the book is appropriate as supplementary r...