The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way

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Simon and Schuster, Aug 13, 2013 - Education - 320 pages
How do other countries create “smarter” kids? What is it like to be a child in the world’s new education superpowers? The Smartest Kids in the World “gets well beneath the glossy surfaces of these foreign cultures and manages to make our own culture look newly strange....The question is whether the startling perspective provided by this masterly book can also generate the will to make changes” (The New York Times Book Review).

In a handful of nations, virtually all children are learning to make complex arguments and solve problems they’ve never seen before. They are learning to think, in other words, and to thrive in the modern economy. Inspired to find answers for our own children, author and Time magazine journalist Amanda Ripley follows three Americans embed­ded in these countries for one year. Kim, fifteen, raises $10,000 so she can move from Oklahoma to Finland; Eric, eighteen, trades his high-achieving Minnesota suburb for a booming city in South Korea; and Tom, seventeen, leaves a historic Pennsylvania village for Poland.

Through these young informants, Ripley meets battle-scarred reformers, sleep-deprived zombie students, and a teacher who earns $4 million a year. Their stories, along with groundbreaking research into learning in other cultures, reveal a pattern of startling transformation: none of these countries had many “smart” kids a few decades ago. Things had changed. Teaching had become more rigorous; parents had focused on things that mattered; and children had bought into the promise of education.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bookworm12 - LibraryThing

A deep dive into education in America vs. the rest of the world. The author highlights the relaxed, but successful style of teaching in Finland and the intense and exhausting style in South Korea. She ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - electrascaife - LibraryThing

Ripley travels to three countries - Poland, South Korea, and Finland - all of which have high school students testing higher than any other countries' students in the world. She also talked to three U ... Read full review

Contents

the treasure map
13
leaving
26
the pressure cooker
46
a math problem
67
an american in utopia
81
drive
104
the metamorphosis
124
difference
151
coming home
180
authors note
201
how to spot a worldclass education
207
AFS student experience survey
219
selected bibliography
239
notes
255
index
291
Copyright

the 4 million teacher
169

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About the author (2013)

Amanda Ripley is a literary journalist whose stories on human behavior and public policy have appeared in Time, The Atlantic, and Slate and helped Time win two National Magazine Awards. To discuss her work, she has appeared on ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX News, and NPR. Ripley’s first book, The Unthinkable, was published in fifteen countries and turned into a PBS documentary.

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