Review: Who Gets To Be Smart by Bri Lee


Title: Who Gets To Be Smart: Privilege, Power and Knowledge

Author: Bri Lee

Published: 5th June 2021, Allen & Unwin

Read: June 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin



My Thoughts:


In Who Gets To Be Smart, Bri Lee explores the relationship between education, privilege, power and knowledge.


“Knowledge is power, and when powerful people are allowed to shape knowledge and restrict access to knowledge, they are able to consolidate and strengthen their hold on that power.”


Lee’s focus is primarily on the gatekeepers of educational access and success in Australia, and their role in determining who gets to be ‘smart’, rather than the contribution of raw intelligence to the equation. The majority of Lee’s observations about the ways in which knowledge is controlled by those with privilege and power seem obvious to me so I don’t feel the book offered me much personally in the way of unique insight, though I’m sure there are some who have never considered the correlation.

It seemed to me that Lee occasionally followed paths that didn’t really connect to the central premise. There were relevant topics I felt Lee didn’t acknowledge such as Australia’s secondary and tertiary scholarship options, and I think the HECS-HELP and VET schemes merited more discussion.

Lee’s own anecdotes and asides keeps Who Gets To Be Smart from being dry. Her research seems sound, and the information is presented in an accessible manner.

I found Who Gets To Be Smart to be an interesting read, I hope it sparks discussion about inequality in educational access and success that will lead to change.


Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

3 thoughts on “Review: Who Gets To Be Smart by Bri Lee

  1. Hmmm. Was looking forward to this however your comments have made me hit pause – does she acknowledge her own lens when considering the topic? Obviously there’s a gender element, however, she is a white, middle-class person who studied law.

    Liked by 1 person

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