Granted this 9 year old prodigy comes from a background of technology know-how. His father is a chief technology officer at technology firm and writes iPhone applications. But what astonishes me is that this kid has taken these new technologies and applied it. I'm sure that he was not taught by his classroom instructor or that in doing it, he checked to see if it aligned to his learning standards. As nine-year old Lim Ding Wen states:
'I wrote the program for my younger sisters, who like to draw.'
If you haven't read
about or downloaded the iPhone App, Doodle Kids
, it now has more than 4,000 downloads and growing. In addition to this, Lim is also writing more kid games including a space race game called 'Invader Wars.'
So what is it that brings about the brightest and best from countries like South Korea, Japan, Finland, etc. and U.S. is lagging further behind?
ranked countries on academics and found suggested that:
"...countries are consistently performing better than others when it comes to educating and equipping their young people for life in the 21st century ..."
"In all countries under review, a strong predictor of a child's success or failure at school is the economic and occupational status of the child's parents," it added.
It's not surprise to me that a 9 year old student from Singapore can create an iPhone App because it's something his sisters wanted. I believe there are many students here in the U.S. that are equipping their children with FLIP cameras, iPhones, video editing and Web designing tools.
If the notion is true that a strong predictor of a child's success is economic and occupational status, then this would hold true for Lim Ding Wen. I believe this to be the case for our kids as well. Many affluent families have digital cameras, wireless Web access from home, and students have cell phones with mobile Web capabilities. The key to this child's success story and others is not what they are doing in school, but rather what they are doing outside of the school day. Kids today have tremendous access beyond the school day including applications and Web 2.0 resources that so many districts block. The reality is, students are accessing and creating and applying 21st century skills at home everyday! As an institution, the schools should and do a sufficient job and teaching students the basic skills and 4 x 4 curriculum requirements. With that said, if the core instruction is provided for students at school, the innovation and application of 21st century skills is a result of the core learning and happens everyday all around them with all the resources at their disposal. Granted it may not all be included in the school day. The catch, not all students come from econcomic or occupational setting as Lim's family.
As is stated in so many education technology circles, U.S. students need 21st century skills to compete in the global eco...
. My question is... 'will this happen from an institution, or rather from a community of learners through online venues outside the school walls?" If students who are economically well-to-do and parents come from a "21st century occupation," I don't think there's much to worry about there, but what about the many who do not? What about those who are from single parent homes, rural parts of the country or not economically equipped to have access?
Organizations like ISTE
and Partnership for 21st Century Skills
are making a strong push to ensure schools are prepared.
I've just starting reading the book by Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
I'm interested in people who are outliers—in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.
In just reading the introduction and summaries about this book, the notion is about why some people succeed and appear to be prodigy-like, and what are the factors that create this notion. One factor is definitely talent and hard work, but there are many factors that he explores that are quite interesting.