America has long compared its students to top-performing kids of other nations. But how do the world's education superpowers look through the eyes of an American high school student? Author Amanda Ripley follows three teenagers who chose to spend one school year living and learning in Finland, South Korea, and Poland. Through their adventures, Ripley discovers startling truths about how attitudes, parenting, and rigorous teaching have revolutionized these countries' education results.
In The Smartest Kids in the World, Ripley's astonishing new insights reveal that top-performing countries have achieved greatness only in the past several decades; that the kids who live there are learning to think for themselves, partly through failing early and often; and that persistence, hard work, and resilience matter more to our children's life chances than self-esteem or sports.
Ripley's investigative work seamlessly weaves narrative and research, providing in-depth analysis and gripping details that will keep you turning the pages. Written in a clear and engaging style, The Smartest Kids in the World will enliven public as well as dinner table debates over what makes for brighter and better students.
About the Author
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.
"[Ripley] 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." * New York Times Book Review *
"Compelling . . . What is Poland doing right? And what is America doing wrong? Amanda Ripley, an American journalist, seeks to answer such questions in The Smartest Kids in the World, her fine new book about the schools that are working around the globe ....Ms. Ripley packs a startling amount of insight in this slim book." * The Economist *
"[T]he most illuminating reporting I have ever seen on the differences between schools in America and abroad." * Jay Mathews, education columnist, The Washington Post *
"[The Smartest Kids in the World is] a riveting new book....Ripley's policy recommendations are sensible and strong....The American school reform debate has been desperately in need of such no-nonsense advice, which firmly puts matters of intellect back at the center of education where they belong." * The Daily Beast *
"The Smartest Kids in the World should be on the back-to-school reading list of every parent, educator and policymaker interested in understanding why students in other countries outperform U.S. students on international tests." -- US News & World Report
"Gripping....Ripley's characters are fascinating, her writing style is accessible, and her observations are fresh....If you're interested in how to improve public schools, read Ripley's book today." -- The Huffington Post
"In riveting prose...this timely and inspiring book offers many insights into how to improve America's mediocre school system." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"If you care about education, you must read this book. By recounting what three intrepid kids learned from the rest of the world, it shows what we can learn about how to fix our schools. Ripley's delightful storytelling has produced insights that are both useful and inspiring." -- Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin
"This book gives me hope that we can create education systems of equity and rigor-if we heed the lessons from top performing countries and focus more on preparing teachers than on punishing them." -- Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
"This is a no-nonsense, no-excuses book about how we can improve outcomes for all kids, from the poorest to the wealthiest. It avoids platitudes and ideology and relies instead on the experiences of students." -- Joel Klein, CEO, Amplify, and former chancellor, New York Department of Education
"Amanda Ripley observes with rare objectivity and depth. She finds a real and complex world `over there'-schools with flaws of their own but also real and tangible lessons about how to do better by our kids. The Smartest Kids in the World gave me more insights, as a parent and as an educator, than just about anything else I've read in a while." -- Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion
"Such an important book! Amanda Ripley lights the path to engaging our next generation to meet a different bar. She makes an enormous contribution to the national and global discussion about what must be done to give all our children the education they need to invent the future." -- Wendy Kopp, founder and chair, Teach For America, and CEO, Teach For All
"The Smartest Kids in the World is a must read for anyone concerned about the state of American public education. By drawing on experiences, successes, and failures in education systems in the highest-performing countries across the globe, Amanda Ripley lays out a course for what we must do to dramatically improve our nation's schools." -- Michelle Rhee, Founder and CEO of StudentsFirst
"Ripley's stirring investigation debunks many tenets of current education reform." -- BookPage
"In lively, accessible prose....Ripley's book looks at the data from a new perspective. Those stunned parents and teachers in New York State and elsewhere would do well to read this book first if they are inclined to blame their children's/students' poor results on a new test." -- OECD "Education Today" Blog
"[Ripley] is a compelling storyteller who deftly plaits humorous anecdotes and hard data to whip you in the face with her findings." -- Kristen Levithan * Brain, Child Magazine *
"Ripley's evaluation of education in a changing world is revealing and thought-provoking." * Rocky Mountain Telegram *
"A good read . . . . If you want to understand what goes on in other countries' education systems, read [The Smartest Kids in the World]." * Coshocton Tribune *