What can American educators learn from Finland, South Korea, and Poland? asks Amanda Ripley in her latest book. Ripley points out that good teachers lead to better schools that can be given more autonomy. This creates a virtuous cycle, where greater autonomy further improves the quality of the education that the schools provide. However, this is something we already know. There is also virtually a consensus regarding the proposition that focusing on underachieving students in general increase average educational outcomes.
But Finland, South Korea, and Poland have other important things in common that probably explain part of their culture with respect to education, which Ripley should spend more time investigating. These three countries are very homogenous, fairly small, and have in modern times been occupied, fighting wars on their own soil, and/or threatened by attacks from foreign powers.