The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got that Way Essay

907 Words Apr 24th, 2014 4 Pages
The Threat of the “Smartest”
Soda Ruan
America is a country that currently spends more money on public education per student than any other nation in the world; nevertheless, these good intensions have achieved only slight positive outcomes. For instance, in PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), an authoritative test used to measure the education levels of students from 53 countries, American students ranked 12th in reading, 17th in science, and 26th in math. No doubt, a question like this one has been argued for decades “ what exactly is happening in foreign countries that allows them to out-pass America in terms of academics?” The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way is an illuminating book by Amanda
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Fortunately, the culture of working hard on the part of students is indeed so effective that Korea ranked the second in PISA in 2009.

The second contributor to success is the role of teachers. Finland ranked 1st in PISA in 2009, but Finnish students achieved these glorious results without studying obsessively like Korean students. Finland’s education success appears to derive from its highly qualified teachers. This country has only 8 accredited teachers’ colleges and only 20% of applicants are accepted. Once applicants are accepted into a Finnish teachers’ college, the rigorous teacher-training program usually will last 6 years covering 3 years of college, 1year of immersion in a public school, and 2 years of finishing a master’s degree. Compared with Finland, Ripley explains, “at most U.S. colleges, education was known as one of the easiest majors… Once students got there, they were rewarded with high grades and relatively easy work. Instead of taking the more rigorous mathematics classes offered to other students, for example, education majors tended to take special math classes designed for students who did not like math”(Page 108). The difference between American teacher training and Finnish teacher training is significant and worth noting. A principle always obeyed in the education-geek world is that well-trained teachers lead to better performing students who could become top teachers in the future.

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