Summary of The Smartest Kids in the World
And How They Got That Way
From THE SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD by Amanda Ripley. Copyright © 2013 Amanda Ripley. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., N.Y.
Three American teenagers describe their high-school experiences in Finland, South Korea and Poland.
Journalist Amanda Ripley followed three US teens – Kim, Eric and Tom – as they studied abroad for a year in Finland, South Korea and Poland, respectively, all of which outrank the US on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test measuring teenagers’ critical thinking skills in reading, math and science. At a highly individual level, both Ripley and her subjects discovered profound differences between education in the US and in other countries. The students enjoyed greater freedom and autonomy overseas. They also faced higher expectations and more challenging coursework. They found that foreign teachers don’t coddle kids and that failure is part of learning. High school sports don’t exist: Students who want to play join community teams. Ripley interjects PISA rankings and educational reform information into her story, which makes the narrative episodic, but it remains fascinating and illuminating. She portrays a unique student perspective, showcases how cultural differences affect education and examines the cultural patterns that hold US kids back and spur teens from other nations. getAbstract recommends her exploration to school administrators, politicians, teachers, parents and students.
In this summary, you will learn
- What three American teens learned while going to high school abroad,
- Why many other countries outrank the US on PISA, and
- What Americans can learn about education from other countries, in this case South Korea, Finland and Poland.
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