How to Be a “Great Student” and Learn Absolutely Nothing At All

Reblogged from Better Humans


If I wanted to find the smartest kids on the planet, where would I look?

Many people, I bet, would suggest the IPO — the International Physics Olympiad. Each year, high school students from around the world face off to hours and hours of difficult physics questions.

Only the best come out on top.

And for 11 of the last 25 years, the winners have come from a single country — China.

Why does China dominate?

One competitor from the UK comments:

“…the Chinese education system, coupled with discipline through fear works. … China starts preparation for the competition when their participants are just 8; they work ~16 hours a day on physics problems. The result? Winning with ease. … I’m currently [one of] the best physics students in the UK and I’d pay anything to have had an upraising like that, instead mine was consumed with PC games, and posting on forums.”

In middle school, I had my own taste of Chinese “discipline through fear.” In China for summer break, I joined a local swim team for a day. One of the girls was giggling to a friend’s joke. The coached walked up behind her, scolded her for having fun, and hit her on the head with heavy metal rod. She made sure not to laugh again.

Yes, when it comes to solving physics problems, the Chinese are the best in the world. But that leaves me with a question.

So what?

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