The Smartest Kids In The World

A new book by Amanda Ripley ‘The Smartest Kids in the World:  And How They Got that Way” follows three American students who visit  Finland, South Korea and Poland and find out what those nations are doing differently in order to become the top preforming educational nations.

It appears that the schools in each of those nations excel because everyone focuses their energy on academic achievement and not sports, technology or excuses for failure.  In Finland, the government has poured money into teaching, making it a prestigious, well-paid profession.  One hundred percent of Finland’s teachers graduate in the top quarter of their high school classes.  In Poland, all students take the same rigorous curriculum through age 16, whether they plan to go to college or not.  In South Korea, after a full day of school, students attend “cram school” where classes last until midnight.

In Poland, the American student is shocked to find out that team sports do not exist at the school he is visiting.  In Finland, the American students asks why students work so hard.  The response is, “How else will I graduate and go to a a university and get a good job?”

Are American parents, politicians, teachers and universities willing to listen to these messages?