and quickly glanced through both (without seeking to create any 'systems models' of their arguments).
I have to reiterate my earlier arguments, but emphasising that I'm not by any means agreeing with Mark Saul's arguments - except with his contention that "a synthesis of the positive aspects of the 'Chinese system' with the positive aspects of the 'US system' will achieve more than either has achieved separately" - though of course Mark Saul has not suggested just *HOW* such a 'synthesis' should be carried out.
I'm also not suggesting that Liping Ma is wrong in her arguments about the 'coherence of the Chinese system' versus the 'incoherence of the US system' (if that is the heart of her argument. The Chinese system may well be highly coherent based on the core subject of arithmetic, etc. I AM claiming that she has not put forth her arguments very coherently herself (accepting the fact that she has convinced you with them).
I have zero experience and knowledge of elementary math education (except that I do strongly believe that the 'Montessori system' has effectively resolved most of the basic issues related to early child education, in particular in the discipline of math. Liping Ma is, I have no doubt at all, highly qualified in terms of both experience and knowledge of math education. I do, however, understand 'systems' at a quite profound level and I do know, that the basic design of any human-made system MUST *effectively* integrate the ideas of its stakeholders - or it will never become a truly successful system.
There probably is much that could be argued in support of Liping Ma's and Mark Saul's respective arguments (and no doubt many have done exactly that, as you are doing in support of Liping Ma's thesis).
My suggestion is that the 'Chinese system' grew up over time (via developments during the Cultural Revolution and the subsequent history of China and its education systems). Accepted that China has made huge strides forward in school education, possibly far greater strides than has been made by the USA. (And, almost certainly, far greater strides than have been made in Indian school education).
To my mind, the only question at issue in respect of math education is: "Do school students in China graduate from school 'fearing and loathing' math - or do they, by and large, come out of the system with an 'adequate' appreciation of the place and value of math in educating them?"
My claim is that, if this 'fear and loathing' has not been effectively tackled, then their 'system' is bound to fail (if not today, then tomorrow).
We already know that, by and large, US students graduate from school with little appreciation of the value of math in educating them, most of them appear to 'fear and loathe' math. However, the system, such as it is, has developed through the social process that the US has experienced over the past decades and, perhaps, centuries. It would be useful to *integrate* whatever may be useful and valuable in that experience. I cannot believe that NOTHING useful and valuable was gained.
However, on the whole, I would argue that the US system (as a whole; not just the 'ed. system') is basically better geared to eliciting ideas from stakeholders than is the 'Chinese system', which seems to me to be more of a 'command-and-perform' sort of system.
Thus, once again, the only real question is (to my mind) the one that Mark Saul has not answered: "Precisely *HOW* should the recommended 'synthesis' be achieved??"
When that question is adequately answered (even if not with high *effectiveness* to begin with), then the respective 'math education systems' will be on en route to true effectiveness.
The above argument of Mark Saul's about 'synthesis' would be convincing if we had a practical means to *integrate* the good ideas (from different sources) into *effective* Action Planning. This is possible if, at the same time, the bad ideas that are always floating around the mindspace are rejected with a clear understanding by all *WHY* they are being rejected. To accomplish such an *integration* of good ideas is not a trivial undertaking - but it can definitely be achieved within a couple of years. Such a course would possibly be more difficult than accepting someone's ideas about how math education should be done - but it will lead to more effective systems, no matter how qualified that person may be.