The Korean Kid Hypothesis

Just today, I gave my final exam. I certainly hope that my students knew at least some of the answers. Over the last few days I had a number of office hours and a decent number of my students showed up. It doesn’t really matter how it came up, but I ended up sharing with 5-6 students one of my favorite maxims. It is a proverb of mine. I know that sounds pretentious, but stick with me… its a good one. I told them this:

‘No matter how good you are at something, there is always a Korean 9-year old who is better than you.’

It is a reminder to anyone who is the best in their geographical area, or their school, or their set of acquaintances, that the ocean of possible talent is huge. It is also a reminder of how one becomes excellent at something: hard work, lots and lots of hard work. Starting with some talent is helpful, but at the end of the day, it is hard work and nothing else that makes someone excellent at something.

And that is the Korean Kid Hypothesis.

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