Amanda Ripley knows how to write extremely well. In The Smartest Kids in the World, Ms. Ripley follows three American exchange students as they study in Finland, South Korea, and Poland. By doing so, Ms. Ripley investigates how the American education system could improve.
I appreciated that Ms. Ripley selected three different countries to focus on in this book. But I didn’t quite figure out her central thesis.
To me, the book was a series of anecdotes and vignettes to make an overall point that different countries are different, there are some different ways to have a good education system, but that in general, the quality of teaching matters most. And the stories were well told. But I would have preferred a little more detail and concreteness.
Maybe the problem for me is that the book tried to follow three students but was only 200 pages long — with about a quarter of it to introduce the students (before they arrived overseas).
In short: This is an extremely well-written book that maybe tried to do too much. Or maybe I’m just critical and biased because I’m the education field (and this book’s audience is white middle-class parents). Yes, maybe that’s it.