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The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way Hardcover – Aug 13 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Aug. 13 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451654421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451654424
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Aug. 26 2013
Format: Hardcover
Amanda Ripley shares what she learned while studying pre-collegiate education in three foreign countries: Finland, South Korea, and Poland. The quality of education in any country reflects - for better or worse - what the adults in each country value most. For example, in Finland, rather than "trying to reverse engineer high-performance teaching culture through a dazzlingly complex performance evaluations and value-added data analysis," as in the United States, education leaders ensure high-quality from the beginning, allowing only top students to enroll in teacher training programs. Unlike in the U.S. the education of children is entrusted only to "the best and the brightest" teachers who demand academic rigor and best effort.

In a country such as South Korea where that is not the case, ambitious parents enroll their children in hagwons (highly intensive, after-school for-profit teaching centers) to ensure that they will pass the country's stringent graduation examination, "the key to a successful prosperous life." In 2011, parents spent $18-Billion on these cram schools. Ripley calls this system "rigor on steroids," a "hamster wheel" that has created as many problems as it has solved. In 2010, one Hagwon teacher - Andrew Kim - earned $4-million and in South Korea is renowned as a "rock star teacher." Most of his teaching is done online. Thousands of students are charged $3.50 an hour. They or their parents select specific teachers -- not hagwons -- with selections based entirely on how well the instructors' students score on the national exam.

As for Poland, its public schools seem to accomplish much more with less than do the other two.
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By Teach on March 9 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Should be mandatory reading for all those involved in designing curriculum and determining how schools should be operated in Canada. We better make some changes in a hurry before we lose an entire work group running the current inefficient education programs we have today, and using the wrong learning methodologies.
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By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 6 2014
Format: Hardcover
The key to this book is to remember that it's primarily anecdotes and story, so it's not conclusive proof of anything. But nonetheless this book has a fascinating tale to tell, one that pretty much everyone will or should have an interest in. How countries educate their children is of course a never-ending source of fascination and concern. This book is as useful as any to help us understand why some countries do so well and others, well, less so. Of course, since this author is an American writing in the United States, this book's concerns are American centred. The book uses the results of the PRISM tests as a springboard to its tale. We visit Finland & South Korea, two top-performing countries who are also democracies (to aid comparison with the USA). We also visit Poland, which has improved its results drastically since taking the first test around 2000. Why is Poland springing ahead of the US?

Ripley comes up with some possible answers, based on anecdote mainly, as mentioned before. Ripley is skilled at telling this story and helping us understand what it could mean, without taking any conclusions too far.

Maybe this book will make you smarter, along with helping us along to educate smarter kids.
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By Nicholas T. Hillier on Jan. 5 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was a little short and anecdotal for my tastes. However it was easy to read and makes some very good arguments and inferences about how cultural attitudes and institutional policy can profoundly shape the quality of education for good or for bad. It did, for me, however, feel incomplete. A topic of this magnitude deserves more pages... Plain and simple.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has been quite interesting and useful in my search for schools. Even though the subjects are American students, it is still relevant for Canadian parents, and educators. At the end of the day the solution for an amazing school doesn't have to do with money, just respect for learning, teachers ,and trust in kid's amazing capacity for learning when we expect it from them.

The only reason I took away a star was for the title, it almost kept me from reading the book. After you reading it, you will understand that it is not meant in a pedantic and inaccessible manner.
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