ABC’s Nightline Profiles Raymond Zheng, “Brilliant Kid”

raymond_zhangThis past week, ABC’s Nightline did a news segment on Genius School – Inside an innovative class for some of the world’s most brilliant kids (video: 7 minutes. 40 seconds) and profiled Raymond Zheng, a fourteen year old freshman at the University of Washington. The news segment also profiled current middle school-aged students — mostly thirteen year old’s — in a one-year program at the “Transition School,” officially known as the The Halbert and Nancy Robinson Center for Young Scholars, which Raymond attended prior to entering college.

Young, precocious kids such as Raymond are fascinating, and sometimes I wish I were so bright. But why focus on Raymond? Maybe his parents were the only ones to agree to have their child profiled. But when Raymond says during his interview that “I find that I like math and science quite a bit,” I wonder if Nightline is reinforcing the stereotypical Asian American “model minority.” Raymond even performed piano recitals in kindergarten, currently has a 4.0 grade point average, and his favorite past-time is, yes, doing homework.

As an Asian American kid growing up in a white suburb in Western Massachusetts, I kind of identified with the model minority myth. Since moving to California, I understand much better the consequences and unfair expectations this myth imposes on Asian Americans.

The profile of the “Transition School” interviews students of this select sixteen student program that seemed like a fairly well balanced of students interested in a variety of topics beyond math and science, but I wonder also how kids like Raymond adjust socially to a college environment, given their age; do most of these kids adjust well? I have to imagine that there some social and peer issues that these Doogie Houser’s have to come to grips with.

Image Source: ABC News / Nightline.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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