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Short Synopsis
Journalist Amanda Ripley explains how a handful of nations are creating smarter, more resourceful kids in this must-listen account.

Full Synopsis
How do other countries create "smarter" kids?

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 the world's new education superpowers?

In a global quest to find answers for our own children, author and Time magazine journalist Amanda Ripley follows three Americans embed-ded in these countries for one year. Kim, fifteen, raises $10,000 so she can move from Oklahoma to Finland; Eric, eighteen, exchanges a high-achieving Minnesota suburb for a booming city in South Korea; and Tom, seventeen, leaves a historic Pennsylvania village for Poland.

Through these young informants, Ripley meets battle-scarred reformers, sleep-deprived zombie students, and a teacher who earns $4 million a year. Their 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. Things had changed. Teaching had become more rigorous; parents had focused on things that mattered; and children had bought into the promise of education.

A journalistic tour de force, The Smartest Kids in the World is a book about building resilience in a new world—as told by the young Americans who have the most at stake.

"This well-considered, fact-based book by Ripley examines the factors contributing to the United States' poor global educational performance. . . . Narrator Kate Reading's serious, sonorous tone is spot-on." ---Library Journal Audio Review

"A compelling, instructive account regarding education in America, where the arguments have become 'so nasty, provincial, and redundant that they no longer lead anywhere worth going.'" ---Kirkus

"Ripley's delightful storytelling has produced insights that are both useful and inspiring." ---Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

"This is a no-nonsense, no-excuses book about how we can improve outcomes for all kids, from the poorest to the wealthiest. It avoids platitudes and ideology and relies instead on the experiences of students." ---Joel Klein, CEO, Amplify

"Narrator Kate Reading uses a commanding, official-sounding voice." ---AudioFile
New York Times Bestseller


Washington Post Bestseller

Amazon Bestseller

New York Times Bestseller

The Smartest Kids in the World

And How They Got That Way

Author Amanda Ripley

Narrated by Kate Reading

Publication date Aug 13, 2013

Running time 8 hrs

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