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THE SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD

Discussion in 'Society and Culture' started by ethics, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    This was a book review but NYT did a good job here.

    I think this topic of "how come their educated kids are better than ours" has been beat to death but what sets this apart from me is the first hand experience. Amanda Ripley actually traveled, spoke to people, educators, and STUDENTS!

    In reporting her book, Ripley made the canny choice to enlist “field agents” who could penetrate other countries’ schools far more fully than she: three American students, each studying abroad for a year. Kim, a restless 15-year-old from rural Oklahoma, heads off to Finland, a place she had only read about, “a snow-castle country with white nights and strong coffee.” Instead, what she finds is a trudge through the cold dark, to a dingy school with desks in rows and an old-fashioned chalkboard — not an iPad or interactive whiteboard in sight. What Kim’s school in the small town of Pietarsaari does have is bright, talented teachers who are well trained and love their jobs.

    There's that iPad and computer classrooms that we've bashed as a bad approach here. She proves that it's not what we need here.

    The best part of this for me was this:

    Kim soon notices something else that’s different about her school in Pietarsaari, and one day she works up the courage to ask her classmates about it. “Why do you guys care so much?” Kim inquires of two Finnish girls. “I mean, what makes you work hard in school?” The students look baffled by her question. “It’s school,” one of them says. “How else will I graduate and go to university and get a good job?” It’s the only sensible answer, of course, but its irrefutable logic still eludes many American students, a quarter of whom fail to graduate from high school. Ripley explains why: Historically, Americans “hadn’t needed a very rigorous education, and they hadn’t gotten it. Wealth had made rigor optional.” But now, she points out, “everything had changed. In an automated, global economy, kids needed to be driven; they need to know how to adapt, since they would be doing it all their lives. They needed a culture of rigor.”

    I've mentioned the problems of the "hamster wheel" but she addresses this as well and summarizes it as such:

    Ripley is cleareyed about the serious drawbacks of this system: “In Korea, the hamster wheel created as many problems as it solved.” Still, if she had to choose between “the hamster wheel and the moon bounce that characterized many schools in the United States,” she would reluctantly pick the hamster wheel: “It was relentless and excessive, yes, but it also felt more honest. Kids in hamster-wheel countries knew what it felt like to grapple with complex ideas and think outside their comfort zone; they understood the value of persistence. They knew what it felt like to fail, work harder and do better. They were prepared for the modern world.” Not so American students, who are eased through high school only to discover, too late, that they lack the knowledge and skill to compete in the global economy.
    Read the entire review but if you don't want to read it, how about having Natalie Morris read the story for you? Umano is a cool app if you are interested but this is free:

    http://umano.me/c/Kaazr/amanda-ripleys-smartest-kids-in-the-world
     

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