Book: The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way
by Amanda Ripley
JEFFREY BROWN: Three students who help provide a lens or what makes for a successful education around the world and here at home.
It’s the subject of a new book titled “The Smartest Kids in the World.”
AMANDA RIPLEY: So, Finland is really the utopia model, the Holy Grail of education, where you’re getting 15-year-olds, virtually all of them, regardless of their background, reaching a really high level of critical thinking in math, reading and science.
And they’re doing that — this is the amazing thing — they’re doing that without working that many hours. They’re not studying all night long. They’re not going to after-school tutors. They’re probably doing less homework on average than American teenagers.
South Korea is a great example of the pressure cooker model of Asia, so it’s an extreme version of that model, where kids are working unbelievably hard day and night. Families are very, very focused on education. And they get to the same level as Finland, but the kids are working at — studying at least twice as many hours.
AMANDA RIPLEY: Poland, I really was excited to see, because Poland has radically improved over the past 10 years, despite having a really high child poverty rate, a rate that is comparable to our own.
So, this is a place, a big country, lot of complexity, lot of issues, still has not achieved of the level of Finland, but has dramatically improved, despite spending half as much per student as we spend.
JEFFREY BROWN: … I see schools and education taken seriously, for one thing, few gadgets, not an emphasize on electronics, which was a little surprising, and teachers, of course, held in high esteem.
JEFFREY BROWN: … What does it mean for the U.S.? … what do you conclude that we’re not doing right or as well as we could?
We have sports, activities, all kinds of things that I noticed were not emphasized in the cultures that you were looking at.
AMANDA RIPLEY: … there’s a real pure focus on academics, that we’re very distracted for lots and lots of reasons … But I do think that culture can change. This was the amazing thing about these places. In Korea, you had a ridiculous illiteracy rate not that many years ago. And cultures change. People change with the economic times. So I think the economy is really important here. But it also requires leadership and it requires some risk-taking on the part of parents to say, look, we’re going to dial back a little bit on the iPads for everyone and four hours of football practice a day, and remember what it is that our kids really need to thrive.
HuffPost: Book Review: The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley
The performance of students in Norway, which has a homogeneous population, low poverty rate, and generous social safety net, it has gotten significantly worse
What gives in the countries that have already surpassed the U.S. or are heading that direction?
… students from the U.S. who studied abroad in other countries will tell you it’s due to a few key things:
> The first is rigor.
> The second thing is the teachers.
> The last thing is parent involvement. In other countries, Ripley reports, parents aren’t asked to come into the classroom and volunteer, or to fundraise for their school.