[FOUNTAIN]Keep an eye out for the latent talentsSome geniuses and prodigies shine from a young age, but others often remain in the shadows until someone notices their talents.
If it weren’t for school master Henry Stokes, Isaac Newton might have ended up a farmer. Mr. Stokes saw from the beginning that Newton was a special boy. When Newton’s mother wished to send him to a plantation, Mr. Stokes intervened. On the day 18-year-old Newton left for Cambridge, Mr. Stokes shed tears as he praised Newton.
Albert Einstein received similar help. When he published the theory of general relativity in 1916, European scientists were not impressed. Right after World War I, the Europeans were so antagonistic towards Germany that they claimed the German scientist’s theory was not worthy of studying. However, British physicist Arthur Eddington acknowledged the significance of Einstein’s study and began persuading his colleagues. As a result, the Royal Society sent an eclipse expedition to West Africa led by Eddington in 1918 to verify that light bends when it passes close to the sun, which was predicted by relativity theory. Based on the results, the Royal Society confirmed Einstein’s theory the following year.
India’s Srinivasa Aiyanger Ramanujan, one of the most celebrated mathematicians along with Gauss and Euler, was no exception. He was a genius who could solve the most complicated problems at a glance. However, he never received formal education and was not good at the scientific method. Although he had an intuitive understanding, he felt there was no need for proof. Because of the lack of mathematical proof, many scholars did not regard him highly. It was British mathematician Godfrey Hardy that brought Ramanujan to London and helped his scholastic work. Hardy devoted his life to propagating Ramanujan’s theory, saying that if Ramanujan’s genius was 100, his would be only 25.
The brilliant minds could fully develop their genius thanks to the people that helped them. The Korean government plans to provide special education for gifted children.
However, without the eyes to spot the prodigies, the effort cannot succeed. The bureaucrats that have been obsessed with standardization, and the teachers that are used to a uniform education system should develop the eyes to spot latent talent first.
by Nahm Yoon-ho
The writer is head of the family affairs team at the JoongAng Ilbo.