Posted on March 24, 2006 by The Eternal Wanderer
For those who've read today's The Star article, Genius Finds School Boring, on our very own child prodigy and Maths genius, 7 year old Adi Putra, the fact that the boy finds the public school system boring is a testament of our government's inability to provide holistic education for not only someone of Adi's standards, but also to other students as well.
Of course, bearing in mind that Adi's present school is obviously at a lost of how to manage a child who is far advanced compared to his peers, the school had no choice but to continue teaching the standard curriculum for Primary One students. The teachers, unfortunately, cannot give Adi special treatment as that ill not sit well with his other classmates and by giving him preferential treatment, it will also make him an outcast among his peers who would become jealous of the special treatment.
The simple solution to this is simply for Adi to not go to school, after all, what's there for him to learn in public school when he can already read a newspaper at the age of three and solve Add Maths problems by age 6.
I totally understand why Adi feels bored and decided to cut classes. The Primary One curriculum is basically something like kindergarten all over again, where students are drilled on writing, reading and calculation, all of which Adi has already mastered. There is nothing new to offer Adi in the curriculum or lessons, so why stay in school. The parents of Adi did the right thing by complying with his wishes to not go to school and I salute the boy for wanting to go to a school that gives him a more holistic education and a better learning environment.
Still, what the school did, which is to threaten to expel him, could have been done with a bit more tact. It is obvious that the school's action in issuing show cause letters to the boy and his parents, warning him that if he does not show up in school, he will be expelled, was done with little tolerance and understanding of Adi's predicament. I normally equate expellation with students with serious discipline problems and Adi is certainly not a boy with discipline problems. But the label would stick and he will have to live with the memory that he has been threatened with expulsion.
Did the school ever gave a thought to how Adi might feel and how his peers in school will think of him? Obviously not. All the school cares for is its policy to ensure that students attend classes. Anyone who does not is a problematic child. Thus, will be expelled. The school never thinks about the child's feelings. To them, that's secondary when it comes to doing their duty to uphold school rules and poilicies.
What the government should do, and if they are really serious and concerned for Adi's welfare and education, is to let the boy enrol in the Islamic International School here in KL, or any other private school that is better suited and prepared to manage a genius child like Adi. The most important thing here is not only to nurture his abilities so that he will not be one day burnt out like many other geniuses around the world, but also to build him up in other skills, not just Maths. He has expressed interest to learn other languages, and should be encouraged to do so.
Nurtured and taught the right way, we can expect great things from this boy in the future. But until then, it is also important that the glare of the media and attention be diverted away from him. He's still first and foremost a child and should not be exposed to such pressures. He should be allowed to enjoy the things every normal child enjoys. Every child have their right to have a normal childhood, to experience everything a normal child should experience, regardless of whether he's a genius or not.
True, expectations on him will be high in the future. but with proper care in his upbringing, I do not see how Adi will not become one of Malaysia's outstanding personality in the future.
For now, let's give the kid a break he so needs and deserves.