Let me begin by saying that this is a book I bought without giving too much thought to the content. As a new mom, I read the title and thought this might give me some helpful tips to raise a little boy who might become smarter than me.
The book ‘The Smartest Kids in the World: and how they got that way’ by Amanda Ripley is a look at the education systems around the world. A topic not lost on me, but it was certainly not what I was expecting – but it was what I was needing.
This book follows the story of three American teens who travel to Finland, Korea, and Poland – three superpowers in educating their young people. By looking at countries that do well on the PISA, an international test, Ripley evaluated the American system.
There will always be people who believe that real change to the American system cannot happen. There will always be people who stand up for the current system. But there need to be more leaders who push for change against these negative voices.
Now, let me be clear, both myself and the author do not mandate that the US should become exactly like any other country in terms of education – no we are not like any other country. But there are things we can do – like make education a culturally important necessity, higher teachers who are truly the best and the brightest (NYC’s motto for teachers – a campaign much like other professionals in the city).
In was a great read, with lots of important ideas. And this is not without a look at people who have tried to make a change in the US.
It is also not without its help in the area for which I originally purchased the book. Young people do become better learners and thinkers when they are read to as children when books and learning are positivity reinforced when math and science are learned in the early years of school when these interests are keen on young people.
We need to understand what makes kids better because there is a real potential that this country could fall further behind. Wealth and privilege are not going to help in the global market of the real world. This book offers a real look at alternative systems – some within this country that are changing the future for the next generation.