ISSUE-015

Society should identify those children who have special talents and provide training for them at an early age to develop their talents.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.


Geniuses are never absent in our society. From Mozart to Terence Tao, there have been always debates on how such talented kids should be educated. Some argue that society should identify those with special talents and provide education at an early age, but such an argument is often met with opposition. One counter-argument, for instance, suggests that education should be fair to all and no special treatment is warranted. Although I partially concur with the fairness-based argument above, overall I agree that kids with special talents need to be identified and cultivated separately.


To begin with, the idea of a fair education that everyone has equal access to is nothing new. From a theoretical point of view, it is every student’s basic right to receive equal education, because in modern philosophical thoughts all men and women are created equal. In this light, even if a student has demonstrated certain superior qualities, they should not be isolated for special treatment. For example, in many cities in China, entrance examinations are being replaced by lottery-based mechanisms that fundamentally preclude the matriculation based on one’s learning ability. Instead of taking exams, students are assigned to a pool based on the locality of their homes; schools, on the other hand, are also matched to an individual pool and randomly draw students from it. In this way, absolute fairness is achieved.


Admittedly, the argument above has some valid points; at least in an ideal world this may work. However, in reality I do not think that fairness should be the only criteria of education for one critical reason. The ultimate purpose of education from my point of view is to push the human civilization forward by providing a qualified workforce to the society. If we look at the history of advances in human sciences and technologies, it is not hard to come to the realization that most (if not all) critical breakthroughs are made by people with special talented, or geniuses. As a result, our education system has an obligation to identify them. Terence Tao is a great example. Tao is a renowned mathematician with multiple awards and is certainly a genius. His fame can be traced back to his participation in the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) at early age. Winning a Gold Medal at the age of 13, Tao is one of the youngest Gold Medal recipient. Clearly, IMO is a mechanism to spot children with special talents and Tao indeed earned his PhD at very young age. His case demonstrates that our society needs to identify talents and provide them with necessary resources to fully develop their gifts.


To sum, while I can see the theoretical validity (albeit limited) of the claim that education should be fair to all, there are very concrete benefits for the education system to identify children with special talents. Furthermore, I agree that society should provide dedicated training to them so they could fully maximize their potentials.

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