I was so excited to read this in the MC newsletter I just received, regarding Edward Wan, who not only won the national championship, he won as a 7th grader (most winners are in 8th grade), and also received a perfect score on the written competition.
"Given this list of rare achievements, many would assume Edward is simply a prodigy, someone whose talent in mathematics is purely natural. But what makes Edward even more exceptional is this: he did not qualify for the MATHCOUNTS National Competition last year. A Mathlete, who less than a month ago received a perfect score on arguably one of the most challenging MATHCOUNTS tests ever written, was defeated at the Washington State Competition last year. In fact, when interviewed for a blog post by Microsoft, Edward summed up his achievement this year, compared to last year, with a simple adage: “Practice makes perfect.”
"That Edward practiced and worked very hard for his achievement is a point that is probably not highlighted enough in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. Many people continue to view talent in STEM as something that we are born with, or born without. But the truth is, brilliant students like Edward cultivate their brilliance through effort, persistence and yes, failure. But when these students inevitably make a mistake—whether at the nation’s most prestigious math competition or on a routine test at school—they rethink their strategies, learn from their errors and keep trying. Practice makes perfect. It is also what makes a national champion."
While I do have a hard time buying that some inborn talent is not necessary to become a champion, I do believe that anyone can be a reasonably good math competitor. If math competitions were like AYSO soccer, where practically every parent in the US signs up their kid to kick a soccer ball around on Saturday afternoons, we'd yield a lot more mathletes.
Edited by daijobu, 01 June 2016 - 10:23 AM.