Book Club to Discuss "The Smartest Kids in the World"

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Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk’s Book Club will discuss the new book, “The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way” by Amanda Ripley on January 15, 2014 at 7 p.m. at Longfellow Books in downtown Portland.

Copies of the book are available at Longfellow Books at the discounted price of $22.40; be sure to mention that you are part of the Superintendent’s Book Club.  You also may purchase the book electronically, and it is available in the Portland Public Library. 

Ripley, a writer for “Time” and “The Atlantic,” compared education systems around the world to find out why some countries produce students who are achieving at high levels on international tests while other countries’ student achievement has remained flat or declined in recent years.  She followed three U.S. students as they spent a year as foreign exchange students in countries with the highest scores - South Korea, Finland and Poland.

She found that those countries have rigorous standards for selecting and training teachers.  Students believed that they must achieve in school in order to succeed later in life.  Some of the foreign schools focused almost exclusively on academics, downplaying sports and other extracurricular activities.

The book points out problems in other country’s educational system.  For example, many students in South Korea fell asleep in school because they had been up late the night before at private classes. 

“Everywhere I went, in every country, people complained about their education system,” Ripley writes.  “It was a universal truth and a strangely reassuring one.  No one was content, and rightly so.  Educating all kids to high levels was hard, and every country – every one – still had work to do.”

“The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way” tells real-life stories from the classroom that will grab your attention.  Please check it out, then join our discussion on January 15.  The Superintendent’s Book Club is free and no sign-up is required.

"The Smartest Kids" cover