Genius, pt. V

While Eric Weiner, the author of “The Geography of Genius” was in China (the second place of genius in his book), he met and spoke with Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, one of the biggest online commerce company in the world. During their conversation, the author asked Jack why there aren’t more like him in China, which is somewhat related to his question of why the present day China is less creative as the China during the Song dynasty, and the billionaire’s answer was a surprise to me.

He said: “it’s the education system – and in particular the dreaded, mind-numbing exams – that is squelching Chinese creativity.” It reminded me of the entrance exams in Japan, and I wondered whether the same thing is happening to this country.

Eric Weiner included a quote to support Jack Ma’s opinion: “One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year.”

Believe it or not, he was quoting Albert Einstein, the first person that people think about when hear the word “genius.” Even the great Albert Einstein did not enjoy cramming for an exam! Sadly, cramming “stuff into one’s mind for the examinations” is part of many students’s lives. Hopefully there’ll still be students, like Einstein, who pass those exams and go on to create wonderful things.