Many parents and every grand parent thinks their child is very bright for their age. This has always been the case but now there is evidence to support the claim. It appears the average 3 year old is getting smarter. Children are still learning to walk and talk within the same time scales as previous generations but significant changes have been noted in the extent of their vocabulary, their comprehension and their ability to express ideas. Experts say if you listen carefully to these three year olds, parents tend only listen with half an ear, they are observing and commenting on the world around them in terms way beyond their age. Pre school assistants have been commenting on this since the beginning of the school year but just though it was a particularly bright intake. But now there is research that this leap in the developmental growth has been noted in 3 year olds around the world.
This may not be a new phenomenon. There have been rumours coming out of China for the last five years about startling results from a mass educational experiment amongst pre school children. The details are sketchy but it has been widely known that the Chinese government ambitious plans to increase their influence on the world stage are not restricted to economic domination but a belief that the arms race has been replace by an intelligence race. In other words a belief that brain is mightier than economic braun. At first this policy was to be realised not only by a greater proportion of the Chinese population going into higher education but sending their brightest students to the best universities around the world in very large numbers. It’s not clear exactly when there was a shift to pre school but an experiment providing very young children with tablets/ I Pads seems to have produced remarkable results notably in increased vocabulary and problem solving. So dramatic were the results that the program was quickly scaled up. Initial findings indicated that parental input was not a factor neither was the parents educational experience or IQ.
The Chines Government quietly but efficiently introduced a national pre school initiative in which every child was given a simplified version of an I Pad when their parents registered the birth. Very young children can down load games and educational videos. The material is a lot like that to be found on U Tube in fact some of it is a straight copy. The games start off very basic but completely one and it lets you go on to the next level. Think of Sugar Crush or Angry Birds but aimed at 3 to 5 year olds. The content will be familiar to nursery and pre school teachers everywhere. All the games are free and new ones are being added daily. A huge amount of data is generated and collected. This data provides the evidence that children are getting smarter quicker. The Chinese believe that the data is showing that the average Chinese 3 year old is functioning at the level of a 5year old ten years ago. They have a head start in formal schooling at 5 and even more exciting to educationalist they appear to maintain this 2 year advantage throughout their schooling. It’s early days yet but the Chinese National ciriculum is already being up dated to take account of their equivalent of sixth formers functioning at undergraduate level. What the Chinese don’t know yet is if this produces more exceptionally gifted students but they are confident it raises the whole student population and that the next industrial/technical revolution requires a highly educated workforce.
Of course other countries are desperate not to get left behind in the race to have the smartest toddlers.
Disclaimer-Information about the Chinese governments educational experiments with AI are based on accounts that can not be verified due to the secretive nature of the regime.
Blair McPherson grandad and some time writer of fiction