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The Pity of Zhong-Yong: A Wasted Child Prodigy

Mar 18, 2010

Storyteller: This Tuesday, I went to a local Science Fair to volunteer as a judge. I enjoyed the entire event. I met bright young students. They are talented and hard working. They carried out small projects to solve issues they encountered in real life. And they are very confident about themselves when presenting in front of us judges.

Child Prodigy

Child Prodigy

I am so proud of these young scientists. I am also very glad. They remind that this nation still has a bright future. It lies in smart young children and proper education system.

Education is critical to a nation. Nobody would argue about this. Today, in such a technology driven world, a high school diploma is definitely not enough for a decent job.

1000 years ago, a great Chinese poet and politician Wang Anshi told a story about how important education is, even a child prodigy was no exception.

The Pity of Zhong-Yong

In my hometown Jinxi, there was a civilian named Fang Zhong-Yong. His family has been peasants for generations.  At the age of five, Zhong-Yong had never known any writing tools. Suddenly one day he cried and asked for these things: pen, paper, ink, etc.

His father was very surprised and borrowed ones from the neighbor. Zhong-Yong immediately wrote a quatrain Jueju poem, and signed his own name.

His poem was talking about supporting parents and people from the same clan should get along harmoniously with each other in accordance with seniority and the patriarchal relationship. The poem generated big buzz among scholars of entire township.

Since then, Zhong-Yong could immediately complete a poem about any assigned issues and objects. And his poems are of literary talent and sound rationale. People in the whole county were surprised by his incredible talent. Gradually, people started to treat his father as special guest with respectful courtesy; some even paid money in order to ask for Zhong-Yong’s  poems.

His father felt that this was profitable and lucrative. So he let Zhong-Yong visit people one day after another and would not let him study at school.

I’ve heard this matter for a long time. In Mingdao Era, I returned to hometown with my father. At my uncle’s house I met Zhong-Yong. He was already twelve or thirteen years old by then. I asked him to write a poem. His poetry couldn’t meet the reputation of the past.

It took another seven years when I came back from Yangzhou. Once again I came to uncle’s home, asked about Fang Zhong-Yong’s current situation. He replied: “Just like ordinary people.”

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Zhong-Yong's talent and pity

Pity of Zhong-Yong, a wasted child prodigy

Wang An-shi commented: Zhong-Yong ‘s special intelligence was gifted at birth. He was endowed with much higher talent than average talented people. However, he eventually became an ordinary person, because he did not receive proper education afterward.

As naturally intelligent to such an extent as Zhong-Yong was, he became an ordinary person without proper education; Well, nowadays, for those who are not born smart,  if they do not receive proper education, could they beat child prodigy Zhong-Yong and still become “ordinary people”?

[Chinese Keywords]
伤仲永

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