This morning when I woke up to watch the morning news, I saw an upcoming article on "New Zealand's smartest teenager". The preview was a student doing some math and I was ready to write a post on here about how the media helps the promotion of the idea that mathematics is for 'smart' kids.
I couldn't find the breakfast segment, so I searched for another article about him. After watching this segment I was pleasantly surprised.
The article started off with Yang Fan Yun in a pool hall playing pool, admitting he is not very good but he does it for fun. This introduction really set the mood for the whole piece.
In the segment, Yang Fan Yun talked about positivity, about tolerance and respect, and about learning for fun and for the sake of learning. For him, the goal of learning is not to gain marks or prove he is smarter than others. It is to make the world a better place.
This was apparently taught to him by his grandfather, a former professor of education. The segment showed him as a tolerant and hardworking man with a goal of helping his grandson become a better person.
He obviously has some great support from his family and friends, and he has built some really positive learning habits - not just studying all the time, but making sure he spends time taking care of himself.
So while I do believe that the media does do a disservice in perpetuating the idea that math is for smart people (and perhaps implying that those who can't math aren't smart..?), this was not necessarily one of those times.
Good job, media.
Great job, Yang Fan Yun.