Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Homeschooled Math Prodigies

The first one is Reid Barton:

Barton began his formal mathematical studies in middle school, while also taking part-time classes at Tufts University in chemistry (5th grade), physics (6th grade), Swedish, Finnish, French, and Chinese. Mentored by MIT computer scientist Charles E. Leiserson beginning in eighth grade, he honed his abilities on CilkChess, one of the top computer chess programs. Later, while a student at MIT, Barton worked with Leiserson and contributed to the CilkChess program.

Barton graduated recently from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is currently a graduate student at Harvard University in mathematics. He won the 2005 AMS Morgan Prize for Outstanding Research in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Student, awarded jointly by the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. Barton is also a Putman Fellow, one of only seven four-time winners of the annual mathematics competition for undergraduate college students (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004).

In high school, Barton was the first participant to ever win four gold medals at the International Mathematical Olympiads (IMO) for pre-collegiate students (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001), and he was one of four perfect scorers in 2001. That year he also placed first at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI), earning his second IOI gold medal with a score of 580 out of 600, 55 points ahead of his nearest competitor. In addition, he is the only person to have won both the IMO and the IOI.

And the other is Erik Demaine - a young man who was also homeschooled (by his father) and in 2001 became the youngest professor ever hired at MIT (age 20).

Y'all see it now?

The Prince has predecessors!

Again, my son is most certainly not a *genius* or exceptional...

It's merely the educational approach that is exceptional - individualized and somewhat self-directed.

This quote from Erik Demaine is worth highlighting:

"I didn't show any sign of being particularly smart or anything, [except that I had] an unusually long attention span."
Now how's a kid going to exercise or cultivate a long attention span, let's call it *intellectualy tenacity*, when they're being bounced around by school and organized planned activities???

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