A quartet of American high school students study abroad for a year, in countries that dramatically outperform the United States in education. Such was the premise of Amanda Ripley’s bestselling book, The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way, which was released in 2013. Now there’s a documentary, The Smartest Kids in the World, which will stream on Discovery+ beginning August 16. The latest trailer just dropped, and Fatherly is here with a look at it.
Produced and directed by Tracy Droz Tragos, who previously directed Rich Hill, Independent Lens, and Abortion: Stories Women Tell, the film shadows the four kids — Sadie, Jaxon, Simone, and Brittany — as they venture from local high schools in Wyoming, Orlando, Maine and The Bronx to equivalent schools in Finland, South Korea, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Viewers will hear firsthand from the students about their experiences, and their thoughts on what the American education system gets right… and gets wrong when it comes to preparing them for their respective futures. Ripley is also a major presence in the film, sharing her point of view and putting Sadie, Jaxon, Simone and Brittany’s successes and failures in context. The general vibe from the trailer is that the American system isn’t doing right by our children. As one student notes, “I think everyone deserves to have a really great education. To limit that is to limit someone’s life, and I don’t think that’s right.”
The Smartest Kids in the World will begin streaming on Discovery+ on August 16. You can try Discovery+ free for a week.