14 Best Books About Global Education

by Staff Writers

Just as there are many ways to prepare food, create art, or run a country; there are numerous ways to educate and enlighten young minds. Countries from around the world employ a broad spectrum of educational methods that are designed to help students learn, grow, and prepare for college or careers after school. While some have proven to be more effective than others, each has something to offer educators looking for ways to reach out to students, improve tests scores, and change attitudes about education. One of the best ways to learn about global educational systems is through the wealth of books that are out there on the subject. We’ve chosen a few here that address international education methods as well as how these methods compare (for better or worse) to those being used in our own country.

  1. The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need — and What We Can Do About It by Tony Wagner:

    Many believe that America’s education system is producing students who won’t be able to keep up with their international peers. This book delves into that issue, explaining just what skills students will need to match those from other parts of the world and what changes should be made to our educational system to help give students those skills.

  2. The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education by Maya Frost:

    While you might not have the time or the money to take your family on a global journey like Maya Frost did with hers, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of many of the educational options she presents in the book. There are loads of international programs, study abroad opportunities, and quick ways to get through high school that can better prepare young adults to truly be global citizens.

  3. Learning in the Global Era: International Perspectives on Globalization and Education edited by Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco:

    Globalization isn’t just affecting education in America, but also all over the world. In this book, you’ll hear from leading scholars, policymakers, and educators on a variety of issues related to our increasingly interconnected world and the impact these changes are having on education.

  4. Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World by Heidi Hayes Jacobs:

    This book is all about helping teachers to develop a curriculum that meets the demands of a changing world and prepares students to work in the modern world. Issues like sustainability, media literacy, technology, and, of course, globalization are central to the curriculum laid out by world-renowned curriculum designer Jacobs.

  5. Governing Educational Desire: Culture, Politics, and Schooling in China by Andrew B. Kipnis:

    One of the key differences between education in the U.S. and education in China is the value that is placed on educational achievement by parents from nearly all backgrounds. In this book, you’ll get a cultural, political, and economic look at this attitude, and the impact it has on both the family and society at large.

  6. Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization by Yong Zhao:

    Education reform is a key political issue right now, but this book questions whether the reforms being made are really helping students build the skills they’ll need in a global economy. Zhao not only questions American reforms, but also draws attention to the fact that education in other countries may not be as great as we think it is, as they reform their systems to look more like ours.

  7. Preschool in Three Cultures: Japan, China and the United States by Joseph J. Tobin, David Y.H. Wu and Dana H. Davidson:

    Ever wonder what school would be like if you lived in another country? This book takes a compelling look at just that, comparing preschool education in three countries. The result reveals major differences in what each country emphasizes and supports in those early years of education.

  8. Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? by Pasi Sahlberg: In light of their success in international testing, Finland’s educational system has been held up as the model to emulate in recent years. But just what is Finland doing right and how are they doing it? This book explains the fundamentals of education in Finland and explains what other nations can learn when trying to reform their own systems.


  9. The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future by Linda Darling-Hammond: Drawing on ideas from education around the world, author Darling-Hammond shares a prescription for creating an education system in America that reflects the needs of a modern, globalized society.


  10. A World-Class Education: Learning from International Models of Excellence and Innovation by Vivien Stewart: This book takes a look at the American education system in a global context. While the U.S. was once a global leader in K-12 education, its now being surpassed by many other nations around the world, who’ve improved their own educational systems and are far outperforming the U.S. on international tests. Readers will learn what these systems are doing that is working so well, and how the U.S. can draw on their success to reform its own system and close the performance gaps that exist today.


  11. What the U.S. Can Learn from China: An Open-Minded Guide to Treating Our Greatest Competitor as Our Greatest Teacher by Ann Lee and Ian Bremmer:

    America’s education system is often (unfavorably) compared to that of China, as Chinese students are some of the top performers in the world while the U.S. had struggled in recent years. In this book, explains just what makes the Chinese method so successful, as well as what holds it back, sharing ways that the U.S. can learn from both to reform and refine its own educational initiatives.

  12. Learning Gap: Why Our Schools Are Failing and What We Can Learn from Japanese and Chinese Education by Harold W. Stevenson:

    It’s no secret that education in America is faltering, and recent attempts to reform it haven’t been especially successful. In this book, Harold Stevenson explains how looking at Asian nations like Japan and China as models of educational reform could help, and could ensure that American students are able to compete on a global scale in the coming decades.

  13. Education in a Digital World: Global Perspectives on Technology and Education by Neil Selwyn:

    Technology has had a marked effect on education all over the world. Through this book, readers will get to take an in-depth look at how technology has been implemented in education around the world in a variety of political and cultural settings, as well as how technology has changed the marketing and commercialization of education.

  14. Balancing Change and Tradition in Global Education Reform edited by Iris C. Rotberg: This book is an excellent place to start learning about education reform on a global scale. It contains sixteen essays, each written by an expert from a different nation, on the education reforms going on in that country. Readers will learn what motivates these reforms, how they’re carried out, and even the economic impact they might have.