Friday, August 16, 2013

Parents and Teachers: The Smartest Kids in the World

"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 these new education superpowers?"

Amanda Ripley's new book is on sale since August 13, 2013. It chronicles life inside the world's new education superpowers.

In the new book, The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way, the journalist for Time and The Atlantic magazines, and author Amanda Ripley sets the scene for what is turning out to be battle for the soul of US Education.

Reading The New York Times' article, Test Scores Sink as New York Adopts Tougher Benchmarks, August 7, 2013 - "iNew York City, 26 percent of students in third through eighth grade passed the tests in English, and 30 percent passed in math, according to the New York State Education Department?" - parents and teachers were stunned. 

Not Amanda Ripley. Using PISA 2009 results as the backbone of her story, Ripley sets out to find out why it is that American students are falling behind their contemporaries in countries that aren’t as wealthy or innovative as the United States.

“PISA could not tell me how those countries got so smart, or what life was like for kids in those countries, day in and day out, compared to life in America,” 

Amanda Ripley's book 

So, she followed three Americans embedded in these countries for one year. Kim, 15-year-old, moving from Oklahoma to Finland; Eric, 18-year-old, exchanging a high-achieving Minnesota suburb for a booming city in South Korea for a year; and Tom, 17, leaving a historic Pennsylvania village for a gritty city in Poland

With these American teenagers as her guides, she explores the human dimension of PISA results.

Credits video: Amanda Ripley's website

Three 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. They had changed. Teaching had become more rigorous; parents had focused on things that mattered; and children had bought into the promise of education.

According to Amanda Ripley, parents have a critical role to play - but not always in the way we think. Effective parents "let their children make mistakes and then get right back to work. They teach them good habits and give them autonomy," 

If you are interested in getting familiar with PISA/ OECD, you can read my previous post about PISA (2011) and watch the video using graphic facilitation: "Measuring student success around the world".

“If you care about education, you must read this book.
Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin

So a good reading for the last vacation days or if you are back to school. Parents and teachers everywhere would do well to read this book first, if they are inclined to blame their children’s/students’ poor results on the next test. 

Students are never too young or too old to benefit from their parents’ interest in them. All parents can help their children achieve their full potential by spending some time talking and reading with them, even, perhaps especially, when their children are very young. And all teachers can improve their teaching by reading this book about building resilience in a new world - as told by the young Americans who have the most at stake.

"Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."

Winston Churchill


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Pearson Foundation

Amanda Ripley

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