Wednesday, May 7, 2008

School for the gifted

I defy almost any parent to say that they have never once compared their child to another. Even at this age, at my baby group, we compare how long they sleep for, how much they eat, whether they sit or stand, how long for and with what kind of assistance. A lot of this is driven by the need for reassurance, but there is also a hint of competition in it. However, this pales into insignificance compared to a certain Miss M of Hong Kong.

In the riveting Tots2Teens supplement in the SCMP this week is a profile on an 11 year old girl. Under the heading of "gifted children" the Miss M of the article seems to excel at everything. She is at performance level for the violin, has won all sorts of prizes in music contests, is top of her class, won a Putonghua storytelling competition and numerous other awards. All very impressive. But then you read between the lines. After she finishes school, Miss M attends music lessons or "interest classes" until 7pm when she goes home for dinner and then does her homework. She first found she loved the violin when she attended a concert aged 4 and then begged her mother to take her to lessons. Two things wrong here. Firstly, I know of no normal 4 year old who could sit still long enough to be taken to a concert. And, secondly, 4 year olds don't beg, they scream and yell. Apparently her greatest disappointment was missing the 60th Hong Kong Schools of Music Festival because of a flu scare, and she has "pages and pages of certificates kept in a thick box file". When exactly does this child see her friends? Play outside? Watch TV? Just be, well, an 11 year old. Then you read more, and find out that her mother gave up her career after having Miss M and "devotes most of her time taking Miss M to different courses". Suddenly it all makes sense.

Finally, "While she finds her day hectic, Miss M enjoys every session and never complains".

The whole article left me feeling very sad for her.


Grande Poobah said...

poor cow, that miss m

you only have to track the life stories of the likes of ruth lawrence to see where this sort of thing ends up

the saddest thing i heard in HK was a woman who was running a very successful business teaching kids how to play. Cos they spent the rest of their time at conversational japanese/elementary calculus/orchestral scores for the beginner etc etc....

LottieP said...

Miss M enjoyed her day... never complained... etc... Says who? Did anyone actually ask her?