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on 26 March 2018
I bought this book due to the title “The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way”. I was soo disappointed since inside the book it was only mentioning stories of exchange students (not really smart) that went to study in countries with high pisa scores.
The title was misleading the book was narrowed down to pisa scores without looking at other aspects ie. Countries such as Finland which is considered to be a consistent top performer in the Pisa League tables has been accused of failing miserably on other international academic tests such as TIMSS and that is mainly due to the fact that the Finnish curriculum is centralized and has ignored various concepts that are not tested in PISA.
I would not recommend this book unless if someone is interested SOLELY in PISA scores then it is the right book for them. The title of the book is misleading.
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on 3 March 2015
Amanda Ripley begins this book explaining she is a meagre journalist who knows little of the parameters which define an efficient and well run educational system. Yet at the end of this book, she leaves the reader with an impression that she is close to mastering the matter such is the diligent manner in which she conveys information.

In the second chapter of this book Amanda Ripley spends many overly drawn out pages describing the life of a poor American student Kim, who is soon to be transplanted to Finland. This chapter seems overly detailed on the feelings of Kim and I feared that this book was going to be an emotive journalistic and anecdotal book with little int he way of facts to back it up. Gladly I was wrong. Amanda Ripley weaves both journalism and hard fact into an incredibly enjoyable book on immense flaws of the American education system and the superiority of the education in South Korea, Poland and Finland. However she translates a work-life balance to her arguments by demonstrating the inverse of sporting superiority of the States versus the soft South Koreans.

This book will leave one with a sense of what makes an education system great (mainly fantastic teachers) and what countries around the world need to do to ameliorate their own education systems in order to avoid The Great Degeneration as covered by Niall Ferguson.
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on 24 June 2015
Interesting book and easy to read. Having first hand descriptions of what it was like to be a student in the different countries around the world really brought the statistics to life. I'm not sure the Finnish schools were represented wholly accurately. My understanding from reading books and articles by Pasi Sahlberg is that Finnish children are not tested until the last year of school. This book focusses on that last year when Finnish children are preparing for the only high stakes testing they do. So the description is not representative of the rest of their school experience. I would agree that yes, more rigour is a good idea, and better educated and better trained teachers will be part of the solution. However, I'm not sure how this helps those children who will not pass more rigorous exams as long as we fail to value other skills and talents and take success in these into account when measuring how "smart" children are. The PISA test is only one measure of "smartness" and the test itself has a number of flaws.
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on 26 June 2016
This is a very interesting book with excellent examples from different countries at the end you will be able to come to your own conclusion / the right balanced answer
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on 7 June 2016
New York Times Bestseller.Amanda Ripley is excellent with this twenty-first century mystery.
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on 2 September 2015
Read it some time ago but only giving a review now. Very good book, it actually gives you good tips on how to make your kids and nephews better students.
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on 20 January 2017
Interesting topic to explore and some ideas presented here are explored well. However, it would have been good from the author to refer to other sources more as some points could have been explored in more detail.
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on 27 January 2015
Highly recommend, especially for parents. Love the characters and stories and feel I learned so much. As an American living abroad I am deeply hopefully that the US injects more rigour into its academic area of school. In terms of how it recruits and trains teachers and in terms of how we expect the best from our kids
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on 13 November 2013
Not the deepest account of an issue but a fine account of what it takes to get smart. Does what it says on the tin.
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on 20 November 2014
Very insightful. Must read for parents, parents-to-be, teachers and teachers-to-be who can actually do something about kids' education. Highly recommended!!
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