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Publisher's Summary

How do other countries create "smarter" kids? In a handful of nations, virtually all children are learning to make complex arguments and solve problems they've never seen before. They are learning to think, in other words, and to thrive in the modern economy.What is it like to be a child in the world's new education superpowers?

In a global quest to find answers for our own children, author and Time magazine journalist Amanda Ripley follows three Americans embed­ded in these countries for one year. Kim, 15, raises $10,000 so she can move from Oklahoma to Finland; Eric, 18, exchanges a high-achieving Minnesota suburb for a booming city in South Korea; and Tom, 17, leaves a historic Pennsylvania village for Poland.

Through these young informants, Ripley meets battle-scarred reformers, sleep-deprived zombie students, and a teacher who earns $4 million a year. Their stories, along with groundbreaking research into learning in other cultures, reveal a pattern of startling transformation: none of these countries had many "smart" kids a few decades ago. Things had changed. Teaching had become more rigorous; parents had focused on things that mattered; and children had bought into the promise of education.

A journalistic tour de force, The Smartest Kids in the World is a book about building resilience in a new world-as told by the young Americans who have the most at stake.

©2013 Amanda Ripley (P)2013 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A compelling, instructive account regarding education in America, where the arguments have become 'so nasty, provincial, and redundant that they no longer lead anywhere worth going.'" (Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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  • Story

Great comparison of education systems worldwide

Would you listen to The Smartest Kids in the World again? Why?

As a teacher, I learned a lot from this book. It opened my eyes to ways that education policies can be improved here in the United States. We rock, but we don't get everything right.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Smartest Kids in the World?

I really enjoyed following the students featured through their study abroad journeys.

What does Kate Reading bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

As a teacher, I find it difficult to sit down and read and not feel like I should be doing something else related to school. The reading was pleasant. It allowed me to clearly understand and enjoy the book while multitasking. I believe I blasted through the book in less than two days!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I would recommend this book for teacher leaders, parents, serious students ... anyone interested in a global perspective on education.

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Anybody with the kids need to read this one!

Would you listen to The Smartest Kids in the World again? Why?

I will be listening to it again. It already gave me thoughts on the way my kid need to be guided in to the system. I been doing so many things with her but ultimate goal let het guide herself at one point! This book makes you think and reevaluate things.

What did you like best about this story?

Like compare 3 children in this book. Like 3 different countries. Love statistics!!!!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I wish, I do need to work thou :-)

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Great book

This was a great book. I would recommend it to anyone in education or anyone that makes decisions on the future of our education system.

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Understand Edu issues

Great book to read when you are entering the Edu system! Both parents and children !

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More entertaining than instructional

Would you listen to The Smartest Kids in the World again? Why?

The book is definitely interesting and entertaining, but it does not necessarily provide any how-to answers. Educational, but the content in the end boils down to "spending does not equal quality education". There are some hints as to what could help improve the education system, but the book is mostly about busting some myths and exposing some problems, rather than telling what needs to be done. I still strongly recommend it. It's a must read, just don't expect it to become your guide to reforming the education system.

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Revelatory and Thoughtful

A look at how the best school systems worldwide got that way. Riveting and moving.

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What America Needs to Hear

Great book. Plenty of facts and data to prove the point interlaced with story to keep interest and support the details.

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Good to a point

This book contains a lot of very interesting information and is well written; unfortunately, it also contains a lot of opinions presented as fact. If you think football is the ruin of the American educational system -this is the book for you. Even if you don't think football is the main problem, the information presented makes it worth the time.

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Very informative. A must read for every person

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have learned so much about different schools systems in 4 countries and clearly recognized the opposit patterns from usa education system

What did you like best about this story?

comparison of each education system in paralel

What about Kate Reading’s performance did you like?

her Finnish accent touch

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

i was amaized

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really insightful

smooth from the beginning and just pulled me in non stop, she weaved the three stories in so well with the data seamlessly!