Amanda Ripley is a literary journalist and author of The Smartest Kids in the World, a book that examines the various education systems around the world and why some are producing much better outcomes for students. Whilst the book focuses on comparisons between the United States and specific countries with outstanding educational outcomes, there is certainly plenty of food for thought for Australia, particularly given the fact that we are not exactly setting the world on fire with regard to educational outcomes. The following video is fascinating as Amanda explains some of the findings from her research and the reasons why particular countries are outshining the likes of Australia and the United States.

It is particularly interesting to hear the comments about facilities and resources, parental influence/involvement and differences in the way teachers are trained and the value/respect afforded teachers. It is also interesting to hear about the significant differences in the way education is valued by students themselves and the impact this has on outcomes.

I don’t think there are a lot of surprises in this, nor is there any surprise that Australia is not keeping up because our education system is fundamentally flawed in that the system as a whole, and schools at an individual level, are reactive rather than pro-active, which always puts us one step behind. We have plenty of smart young people and plenty of great teachers, but they are both operating in a system that is so bogged down with trivialities and bureaucracy that the effectiveness of our schooling suffers.