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Posted By Peter Bentley
I'm a collaborating Prof in KAIST, Korea so I go over there now and again. At the beginning of this month I was in Jeju, Korea giving a talk for some high school children. The organisers just sent me some photos. Although in this picture I look like I'm teaching karate, I was talking about evolutionary computation and showing some of the videos from my first book Evolutionary Design by Computers (and also gave them a Korean version of Digital Biology). The school specialised in science education, and you could tell. Not only did the kids cope with a talk in English, but they asked detailed technical questions on genetic algorithms. I've had less intelligent questions from fellow scientists in academic conferences! I'm afraid they put British school children to shame...

2 Comment(s):
Peter Bentley said...
I'm sure you're right about education, and I wish I had the answers. Your son sounds very bright and it is good he is given an opportunity to experience more challenging ideas, albeit with limited support; I never excelled during my early years at school, perhaps for similar reasons, or perhaps because I was not so clever. However, I discovered it was possible to teach myself a huge amount from books or experimenting with computers and build-it/test-it games (mechanno was great). And today the Internet is a wonderful place full of knowledge if you know where to look, and you're streetwise and cynical enough to avoid the junk. Tall orders perhaps, but children are bright and given the opportunity most can soak up knowledge like a sponge. I hope your son enjoys the book (he might also like The Undercover Scientist too - I added a few revolting chapters in that book on things like bird's poo and bodies turning into soap for curious young minds like his). Thanks for your comment.
July 7, 2008 22:40:03
pbmum said...
Came to your blog via a review in the papers this weekend of your book of numbers. Part of the problem with British children's understanding of science and maths is surely the lack of appropriate teachers. My eldest, aged ten isn't a genius but likes maths and reached the end of the primary curriculum in maths with two years still to go at his inner London state primary school. The school doesn't have the resources to offer him specialist support and so he sits at the back of the class with a secondary school book and is told to approach the teacher with questions if she isn't too busy with the other children. I can understand the logic in this - the school needs to offer the most support to those children who are struggling - but it's frustrating if you know your child is eager to learn (and to try out mathematical ideas with others - his dad and I are not at all qualified to do this) but isn't getting the chance. There must be many children in similar positions, some of them too poor to buy the books which we at least are able to afford for our son. We will be buying yours for his birthday in September, by the way. It looks great.
July 7, 2008 11:24:16
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