Am on a roll for reading non fiction! My mom always told me not to waste time reading story books (irony, because I majored in lit but reading is def good for you because it teaches about life! And critical thinking!) so now I'm finally following her advice (because moms know best haha!) and reading different genres!

Anyway. This book was published in 2013 and it was very IN at MOE because Sg had a SMALL mention in it haha! Ripley examines the education system of 3 countries (South Korea, Poland and Finland) which did very well in PISA, a test that examines critical thinking and tries to find out what the magic formula is.

I really enjoyed the way she presented the information. Rather than just talking to researchers and other experts, she wades into the education systems with the help of 3 American students who go on a year long exchange at the various countries. Through their journeys I really got a feel of how school life is like, and it made it more real, instead of just policy being executed.

So if you're wondering what the formula for success is, the short answer is this – a rigorous system, buy-in to the importance of education and good teachers!

And my thoughts? I'm more appreciative of our education system. Even though there are imperfections, I think it stems more from poor execution rather than bad policy.

For example, the definition of a good teacher in SG is not so clear cut. Is it an effective teacher who produces results in the classroom? Or is it a teacher who can organise events and do research and present papers? At the same time,schools are trying to differentiate themselves with niche programs and other newfangled proposals… All the same, every school does try its best (I hope!) to bring out the potential in their students.

But as a parent I do worry about my kids. They're individuals with their own quirks and strengths; will they be happy in our successful system? Will they become book smart but street dumb? Now that I'm in France and experiencing a slower pace of life and a not so rigorous education system, I wonder if the results are worth it.


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