Are talented young people being identified effectively?
  ·  2024-06-25  ·   Source: NO.26 JUNE 27, 2024

Recently, a 17-year-old fashion design student from the Lianshui Secondary Vocational School in Jiangsu Province grabbed widespread attention in China by reaching the 2024 Alibaba Global Mathematics Competition finals. Jiang Ping ranked 12th out of a total of 801 finalists. Her secondary vocational school background distinguishes her from the other finalists, who come from elite universities such as Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S. She is also the first secondary school student in history to have reached the finals of the competition. Her exceptional performance has sparked public debate.

Tu Turong ( Jiang's story reminds us that secondary vocational schools or schools of the kind, which were once overlooked or even looked down upon, also house hidden talent. With aptitude and hard work, these talented young people can also shine like diamonds.

Jiang is lucky because she has met a good math teacher, who was quick to discover her talent in mathematics and steered her into the field of advanced mathematics. It is his encouragement that has helped Jiang, who once felt she wasn't good enough to participate in the global math competition, muster up the courage to take on the challenge.

It's really exciting to see that Jiang's talent has been recognized, as it really rarely happens in this way. In real life, talents are often defined too rigidly. Job applicants have to meet employers' thresholds for academic qualifications. Some companies not only require applicants to have a bachelor's or graduate degree, but also require them to graduate from prestigious universities, as if they can't do the job if they do not.

There are now calls for Peking University or Tsinghua University to recruit Jiang. It reflects how much the public cherishes her talent, but it also implies an awkward fact: Even gifted students like Jiang tend to slip through the cracks if they do not possess a glitzy educational background.

Many promising young people in China are not as fortunate as Jiang. They are not "excellent students" according to the traditional rigid standard, but they are often gifted in certain areas and have the desire to display their abilities.

It's hoped that there will be less discrimination against students from non-prestigious universities and more talented young people will be chosen from more diverse backgrounds and in a personalized manner. Do not judge young people based on academic qualifications, but on their abilities.

Zhu Changjun (Yangcheng Evening News): A lot of questions are now centered around why this prodigy is attending secondary vocational school instead of a senior middle school and whether there are any flaws in the current talent selection mechanism.

If Jiang entered senior middle school, where students focus on preparing for the college entrance examination, she may not have met her current math teacher. Also, academic performance across all subjects is what is emphasized at senior middle schools, so she may not have been given the opportunity to reach her full potential in math.

Talents cannot be intentionally cultivated at regular schools. What matters is whether talented young people can be discovered—no matter whether they are in elite universities, general senior middle schools or secondary vocational schools—and can be given a good environment fit for their growth.

If we all acknowledge Jiang is a genius, then it must be admitted that her success can't be widely replicated. We cannot expect such geniuses to be produced in droves just because of Jiang's legend.

Jiang has made it to the finals of this global competition. But if her performance during the finals does not meet expectations, will it cause a reversal in the public's evaluation of her? Let's maintain calm and cool heads. BR 

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson

Comments to

China Focus
Special Reports
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise with Us
Partners:   |   China Today   |   China Hoy   |   China Pictorial   |   People's Daily Online   |   Women of China   |   Xinhua News Agency
China Daily   |   CGTN   |   China Tibet Online   |   China Radio International   |   Global Times   |   Qiushi Journal
Copyright Beijing Review All rights reserved 京ICP备08005356号 京公网安备110102005860