I hope readers where fall weather is present are taking time to get outside. Our fall special section “Teaching Asia in Middle Schools” has been an especially gratifying project. High school and undergraduate instructors (two essays are specifically intended for post-middle school educators), and international readers should all find parts of the issue interesting and useful, but US educational demographics were the major incentive for the creation of the issue. Nationally, US state standards constitute powerful evidence that a disproportionately high number of American children first begin serious study of Asia in sixth and seventh grade. Readers will find a variety of lesson plans, novels, memoirs, and even a textbook in the pages that follow, but two words describe the issue: “good stories.” Six of the ten books featured in this issue won national middle school book awards (another book won a national high school book award.)
As we began development of the issue, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the first feature would be an interview with world history textbook authors but Michio Yamasaki, Edward O’Mahony, and Angelica McDonough’s Our Story: A History of the World is such a refreshing change of pace from the typical world history textbook. Readers, especially middle school educators, some high school instructors, and Asia educational outreach specialists are urged to read this interview with the co-authors and, hopefully, obtain a copy of the text. As a contributor to two national level assessments of world history texts, I’ve never encountered such an engaging world history text at any level.
Genzaburō Yoshino’s How Do You Live? has remained popular in Japan for decades. Since the book is a moving story that contains content worth considering, two essayists: Nancy Neff, an award-winning longtime middle school teacher, and Ronald Green, a specialist on Japanese religions, each contributed review essays of the novel. Former middle school and now high school teacher Angie Stokes in “Teaching the Tōkaidō Road: The Visual Arts, Geography, and History,” describes an instructional unit on the famed Edo-era highway on the Tōkaidō Road suitable for middle and high school instructors and geography and the visual arts receive special attention.
Teaching about Korea is the exclusive topic in EAA board member, author, and nationally- and internationally-known Korea curriculum specialist Mary Connor’s “Lessons From Teaching East Asia: Korea and Korean American History.” Included in the issue are two classroom-ready lessons from her previously published teaching guide, “Korea and Confucianism” and “Four Famous Koreans,” as well as, since this is a middle school issue, excerpts from Mary’s prior EAA review of Julie Lee’s award winning book, Brother’s Keeper.
The Mongols, Kublai Khan, Imperial China, and Korea all are part of Diane Wolff ’s “Fish Shoes: A Palace Drama: Historical Background and Chapter 1: ‘The Princess and the Horse Race.’” The author specializes in children’s literature and her publications on the Mongols have received accolades from specialists in the field like Morris Rossabi. EAA subscribers can read the historical introduction and Chapter 1 from the novel in this issue. Wolff has also made the entire novel available online for no charge.
Four additional award-winning middle school books, and one award-winning high school level book, are reviewed in this issue. EAA editorial board member and two-time Franklin R. Buchanan prizewinner Anne Prescott reviews Eleanor McCallie Cooper’s Dragonfly Dreams, the story of her relatives trapped in wartime China. The author’s additional teaching resources for the book are also available in the issue. Rebecca Byrd reviews Julian Sedwick’s Tsunami Girl. The author combines manga with narrative in spinning a tale based upon the famous March 11, 2011 catastrophes and the book earned a high school literature award. Charles Newell reviews Ellen Oh’s Finding Junie Kim, the story of how a Korean-American, along with other experiences, learns more about her Korean roots. Molly DeDona reviews Waka Brown’s While I Was Away, a memoir of her transformative five months in 1984 when she moved from her rural Kansas community to live with her grandmother and attend Japanese schools. EAA board member Erin Williams reviews Michelle Aung Thin’s Crossing the Farak River, a novel that will probably introduce many readers to the Government of Myanmar’s 2016–2017 “clearance” of the Muslim Rohingya minority in the western part of the country. Interested readers can learn more about the contemporary situation in the sidebar that accompanies the article. Lastly, Fred Lindstrom’s essay review of Ihor Pidhainy’s Key Issues in Asian Studies volume Chinese Literature: An Introduction is primarily intended for high school and undergraduate survey level instructors.
Given the multiplicity of “good stories” featured in this issue, it is critical for all EAA supporters concerned about American education to read the Facts About Asia column “The Elephant in the Classroom: The US Literacy Crisis and Asian Studies.” Until increased understanding of the nation’s literacy problem and effective literacy education in the early grades are implemented, most middle school students will never enjoy the rich stories included in this book.
Beginning with the winter 2022 issue, four consecutive issues will be non-thematic. After eighteen years of developing thematic special sections, switching to non-thematic issues is an exciting venture that promises more breadth while at the same time enabling readers to add new thematic-related material to shore up favorite special sections. The deadline for initial receipt of manuscripts for the winter 2022 non-thematic issue has passed. The deadline for the spring 2023 issue is January 9, 2023. The deadline for initial receipt of fall 2023 manuscripts is May 20, 2023, and the winter 2023 issue, August 1, 2023.
Please encourage friends and colleagues who prefer EAA print copies to subscribe at our low rates by visiting the EAA website. If you have not already done so, visit the EAA website for access to over 1,600 archived articles and more extensive features that highlight both EAA news and other Asia-related opportunities, resources, and programs. Improvements are underway to make the EAA online archives substantially more accessible for users and visitors should notice enhanced features in the archive search functions as well as more available articles in full-text HTML.
Please subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, the EAA Digest, for regular updates on EAA and exclusive content on using EAA articles and additional recommended Asia-related resources at https://tinyurl.com/y38pxf3z. Please also like us on Facebook and encourage your colleagues to do the same! If you haven’t already subscribed to the latest Digest, you not only missed out on practical teaching tips but the latest news including the national and international attention three EAA contributors received after publishing articles in this journal.
Lucien Ellington, Editor: Education About Asia
Send formal EAA submissions to:
Jeffrey Melnik, Managing Editor, Education About Asia
307 Hunter Hall, Dept. 2222
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Chattanooga, TN 37403;
Phone: (423) 425-2118;
Fax: (423) 425-5441
(Please also copy the editor, Lucien Ellington, at Lucien-Ellington@utc.edu)