Tanishq Abraham: What This Prodigy Story Says About Our Education System

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by Richard Thompson, Hillsdale College

While most nine-year-olds are learning about the eight planets of our Solar System, Tanishq Abraham is studying subatomic particles and advanced scientific theories. An inductee of the high IQ society MENSA at the age of four, Abraham is a student at American River College in Sacramento.

Not only does the prodigy attend college classes, but he teaches them as well, conducting guest lectures on topics ranging from astronomy to paleontology.  But the boy genius is not limiting himself to academia. When asked about his plans for the future, Tanishq told a Sacramento reporter that he hoped to “use the knowledge to invent new technologies.”

Tanishq’s story is hopeful, reminding us that America is a country that rewards initiative and paves the way for innovation. At the same time, it forces us to confront the daunting challenges that face our education system.  Without getting into a lengthy treatise on school choice, it is safe to say that the public school system has been failing miserably and is in need of grand scale reforms. Let us look back to Tanishq as an example: he was taken out of public school when it could not keep up with his advanced progression. Fortunately, his parents were able to take the time to home school him but not all parents have the necessary resources. How do we help those children who have so much potential and yet cannot effectively tap into it because they are held captive by the monopoly of mediocrity that is the public school system?

Not everyone can be a Tanishq Abraham. All people are born with different degrees of God-given talents, and many still need an education to cultivate these talents. America’s education system needs to lightly push its children in the right direction, instead of brutally shoving them out the door.

2 Responses to “Tanishq Abraham: What This Prodigy Story Says About Our Education System”

  1. messup

    Some random statistics meriting your close attention as regards actual, present day status of USA educational systems,i.e., Elementary, Highschool, graduate and post graduate. There are other studies showing, in some 50 or so different countries tested, on average USA’s results were 25th out of this constellation of countries when taken as a whole. This is in stark contrast to USA’s first place standing in past studies up until the 1970’s, when decadence in all USA’s educational programs began to manifest itself.

    National Center for Education Statistics (July 2012)
    • The average grade 4 reading score in 2011 was not measurably different from that in 2009. The average grade 8 score, however, was 1 point higher in 2011 than in 2009 (indicator 23).
    •At grade 12, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) U.S. history score was 2 points higher in 2010 than in 1994, while the geography score was 2 points lower. There was no measurable difference in the civics score from 1998 to 2010 (indicator 25).
    • In 2011, about 14 percent of youth ages 16–24 were neither enrolled in school nor working (indicator 29).
    • Between 1980 and 2010, the percentage of high school students age 16 years or above who were employed decreased from 36 percent to 16 percent. For male high school students, the decrease was from 37 percent in 1980 to 14 percent in 2010 (indicator 30).
    •On the 2007 TIMSS mathematics assessment, U.S. fourth-graders’ average score (529) was higher than the average mathematics scores of fourth-graders in 23 of the 35 other participating educational systems, lower than the scores in 8 educational systems, and not measurably different from the scores in the remaining 4 educational systems. (Average scale scores from the TIMSS assessment are based on a range of possible scores from 0 to 1,000.) Most participating educational systems represent countries; however, some represent subnational entities with separate educational systems, such as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China. The educational systems that outperformed the United States in fourth-grade mathematics—namely, Chinese Taipei, England, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, the Russian Federation, and Singapore—all were located in Asia or Europe. In 2007, U.S. eighth-graders’ average mathematics score (508) was higher than the average scores of eighth-graders in 37 of the 47 other participating educational systems, lower than the scores in 5 educational systems, and not measurably different from the scores in the remaining 5 educational systems. All of the educational systems that outperformed the United States in eighth-grade mathematics were in Asia (Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore).
    •On the 2007 TIMSS science assessment, U.S. fourth-graders’ average score (539) was higher than the average science scores of fourth-graders in 25 of the 35 other participating educational systems, lower than the scores in 4 educational systems (all of them located in Asia), and not measurably different from the scores in the remaining 6 educational systems. The educational systems that outperformed the United States in fourth-grade science were Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, and Singapore. In 2007, U.S. eighth-graders’ average science score (520) was higher than the average scores of eighth-graders in 35 of the 47 other educational systems, lower than the scores in 9 educational systems (all located in Asia or Europe), and not measurably different from the scores in the remaining 3 educational systems. The educational systems that outperformed the United States in eighth-grade science were in Chinese Taipei, the Czech Republic, England, Hungary, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, and Singapore.

    One would surmise this lauding of USA’s educational systems is premature and unwarranted. The fact one individual demonstrates uncanny educational aptitude is but a speck in the constellation of America’s student population and insignificant when measured against students in other countries. Then there are savants.

    A reporters mission, vision, objective and goal is to report facts, not a group of educators political fiction.

    Reply
    • lcivantos

      As the article above says, “Without getting into a lengthy treatise on school choice, it is safe to say that the public school system has been failing miserably and is in need of grand scale reforms.” The author is definitely not “lauding” the USA’s educational systems, as you suggest.

      Reply

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