Education About Asia: Online Archives

Integrating Study of Asia into the Curriculum

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Co-recipient of the 2003 United States–Japan Foundation Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Award—Humanities Category

In the context of state standards, high-stakes testing of reading, writing, and math skills, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the renewed sense of patriotism in our country, it can be quite difficult for a teacher to justify teaching about the world. But what if we don’t? What if students leave our classrooms with no sense of global responsibility?

As a classroom teacher and an instructor for the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia, I hear this fear from classroom teachers as we face erosion of the importance of social studies in the eyes of education reformers. However, I believe that regardless of what state and federal requirements highlight, classroom teachers know what their students need to become active citizens in the global society of their future.

Our task now is to address those needs within the confines of state and federal standards. A colleague, Mary Cingcade of the East Asia Resource Center, University of Washington, states the goal this way: “Students will demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of states, societies, key individuals, and issues around the globe.” In the middle grade classrooms, fourth through ninth grades, this can be accomplished with a little effort and a list of resources. Thanks to organizations such as the United States-Japan Foundation, the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia, the Stanford Project for International and Cross Cultural Understanding, and the Asia Society (to name just a few), there are excellent resources readily available for classroom use. The examples of curriculum integration that follow are focused mostly on Japan, but the ideas for integrating study about the world into the curriculum apply to any country and/or culture.


Anderson, G. L. (ed.). Masterpieces of the Orient. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1977. ISBN: 0393091961

Brown, Waka Takahashi. Religions and Philosophies in China: Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Stanford: Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), 2002.

Cheng, Amy. Hiroshima: Perspectives on the Atomic Bombing. Stanford: Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), 2000.

Haugaard, Erik C. The Samurai’s Tale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1990. ISBN: 0395549701

Haugaard, Erik C. The Boy and the Samurai. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000. ISBN: 0618070397

Haugaard, Erik C. The Revenge of the Forty-Seven Samurai. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1995. ISBN: 0395708095

McGuire, Margit. Storypath: A Problem Solving Approach to Social Studies.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Signet, 1996. ISBN:0451526341

Paterson, Katherine. Of Nightingales that Weep. New York: Harper Trophy, 1974. ISBN: 0-06-440282-7

Paterson, Katherine. The Master Puppeteer. New York: Harper Trophy, 1975. ISBN: 0-06-440281-9

Paterson, Katherine. Sign of the Chrysanthemum. New York: Harper Trophy, 1988. ISBN: 0-06-440232-0

Soto, Gary. Pacific Crossing. Orlando: Harcourt Paperbacks, 2003. ISBN: 0152046968