Oct 19, 2012

Vietnam - Reasonable education method would help nurture child prodigies

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VietNamNet Bridge – How to treat child prodigies to nurture their talents for devoting to the country remains controversial.

Local newspapers recently reported a lot of cases of children who could read and write at the very early ages, describing them as “child prodigies” and calling for the society’s support to develop the talents.

However, the children later did not show any special talents. Though they were admitted to prestigious schools, their learning records were normal. In some cases, the learning records were so bad that no one could imagine they were once called the child prodigies.

As a result, educators now keep cautious when talking about “child prodigies.” Especially, some people believe that the so called “child prodigy” does not exist, and that one can gain high achievements only after a long period of tens of years in his life to work and learn hard.

In 2007, Tran Phuong, a freelance math teacher, who is now the Chair of the Vietnamese Intelligence Lightening Club, became very famous, because he dared to open a “center to train child prodigies.”

In that year, five sixth graders were chosen by Phuong to be trained at the center. Just after a short period of learning there, the excellent students could easily solve the mathematics questions designed for university entrance exams.

In 2007-2010, four of the five sixth graders successfully solved math questions of the university entrance exams, namely Nguyen Minh Thang, Le Nguyen Vuong Linh, Ngo Dang Hai and Pham Tien Long won the gold medals at the 2009 Mathematics Olympiad, and then obtained full scholarships from the world’s famous schools such as Singaporean ACS, Raffles, South Korean Science and Technology Academy.

Meanwhile, Cao Hai Nam got the gold medal at APMOPS 2009, came the first in the gameshow “Than dong dat Viet” (The Vietnamese child prodigy), the second in the 2008 information technology competition.

Phuong said he wanted to show that reasonable education methods would be able to develop people’s talents, and that the students with good intelligence need a specific education environment, where they can learn and communicate with other talented students of the same ages.

President of the Le Hong Phong High School for the Gifted in HCM City Vo Anh Dung recalled a case he met seven years ago.

Dung then was asked to test the capability of an eighth grader, before the HCM City education department made the decision on whether to allow him to exceptionally be admitted to the Le Hong Phong School.

The boy was then very good at mathematics. Therefore, he was allowed to skip two grades. And though having to learn with older students, the boy was still better than them at mathematics.

However, his problem was that he lagged far behind the classmates in other subjects. Finally, since the boy had to spend too much time on other subjects, his math talent could not develop.

Therefore, Dung said, as an educator, he does not think that skipping grades would be better for students. In general, people have to study all of their lives, and finishing high schools some years earlier would not have much significance. Meanwhile, if skipping grades, students would have to learn very hard, which would “burn” a lot of their energy.

A survey conducted by the scientists from the Middlesex University in the UK, has also come to a conclusion that very few (6/210) child prodigies could show their talents when they became adults

Lao Dong

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