Teachers sometimes spot children’s talents where parents fail, allowing an early thirst for arts and sciences to be guided
“We start paying attention to talent even in kindergarten, where children join at the age of about two — just after learning to speak,” asserts the Gomel Regional Executive Committee’s Education Department. Staff explain, “In pre-school establishments, time is devoted to teachers working closely with children — including focusing on particular interests. Early development studios are also gaining huge popularity at present.”
Around 2000 under-6s are already listed among the Gomel Region’s talented children, having demonstrated artistic capabilities or those of another nature. Of course, these young citizens form the backbone of our future intellectual and artistic elite.
Gomel has established its own model for developing young talent, sending identified pupils to the city’s Leader School, where 32 clubs are offered, extending the work of the school curriculum. The best teachers are employed to train these youngsters, who already number around 700; most are school Olympiad winners.
Teachers of their own
The Gomel Region’s School of Programming is one of the most widely known in the country, numbering Mikhail Dolinsky among its staff. The famous associate professor at Gomel Kuleshov State University’s Mathematical Problems Department has been investigating how best to teach children computer programming skills since the late 1990s, resulting in the Gomel Region claiming 23 medals at international informatics Olympiads.
Initially, his trainees were fourth and fifth grade pupils but, later, Mr. Dolinsky realised that younger children were capable — even those in the first year, yet to learn to read fluently. “I always do my best to ensure that my pupils are motivated, including introducing an element of competition, so they can see how they are performing in relation to their friends, via a results table,” he explains.
Interestingly, ‘computer star’ Gennady Korotkevich was once part of Mr. Dolinsky’s team of young protйgйs. His recollections reveal the boy’s talent from the earliest of ages. Mr. Dolinsky tells us, “I gave Gennady a book to read and code but heard nothing for a couple of months. Then, his mother appeared out of the blue with a notebook of programmes. Gennady had waited until after the summer football season he began to work. As a second year pupil, he came second in a national Olympiad, which enabled him to enter a technical university without taking an examination. Once, he discovered Archimedes’ Law independently — assuming that such a force must exist on seeing an object floating in water.”
The Korotkevich family keeps a map at home, marking the countries visited by Gennady since 2006, when he won a prize at an International Informatics Olympiad (for schoolchildren). Mexico, Canada, Croatia, Bulgaria and Thailand are already indicated. His parents, who lecture at Gomel’s Frantsisk Skorina State University, never dreamt of him travelling so widely or that their son would be inspired by programming. Mother Lyudmila admits, “We’ve done nothing special. A child cannot but be attracted by computers when their parents are programmers. Since the first years of childhood, he had a computer within sight. It was a challenge for me to clearly explain mathematical laws to him but, where I failed, my husband succeeded. He turned everything into a game and Gena caught on…”
Continuing to stress that they did ‘nothing special’ at home, his mother reveals. “We never scolded him for school marks, simply being happy for him to ‘cope’; when he grew tired, we took a break and always spent weekends in the countryside or at the leisure centre near Gomel in summer. We also began playing tennis. Apart from improving his health, we wanted him to learn the skill of losing without becoming upset.”
To be continued
Five years ago, Gomel was a regional IT trendsetter among youngsters but other cities are now catching up. Around five years ago, local young people in Mozyr began showing interest in sports programming and made a true breakthrough. In 2007, Alexey Ropan, Yevgeny Gritskevich and Alexander Kulitsky won the Russian Sports Programming Olympiad (for teams of school children), hosted by St. Petersburg. In 2008, Alexey Ropan won bronze at an international Olympiad in Egypt and, last year, Sergey Kulik captured gold at a prestigious competition.
“Besides Sergey Kulik, three of our club members — Alexey Ropan, Yevgeny Gritskevich and Adam Bardashevich — have won international informatics Olympiads,” notes their full-time teacher, Alexey Borunov. “Alexey Ropan is among the top 26 programmers worldwide, while Sergey Kulik has won three international Olympiads. With this in mind, our efforts have clearly not been in vain. Last year, Sergey entered the Belarusian State University’s Applied Mathematics Department and also coached children for informatics Olympiads at the Zubrenok Recreational Camp’s summer school.”
The Mozyr stars are gaining a reputation: Alexey Ropan is a student at the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics and captains an adult programming team; Anton Malashenkov, Georgy Konoplich and Vladislav Sobin study at the St. Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics; and Alexey Ropan and Yevgeny Gritskevich also work at a company involved in producing Yandex software.
No doubt, this is just the beginning of the great path ahead.
By Violetta Dralyuk
<img class="imgr" alt="Gennady Korotkevich started his trips to international Olympiads in 2006" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/belen/data/upimages/2009/0001-009-486.jpg">[b]Teachers sometimes spot children’s talents where parents fail, allowing an early thirst for arts and sciences to be guided [/b]<br />“We start paying attention to talent even in kindergarten, where children join at the age of about two — just after learning to speak,” asserts the Gomel Regional Executive Committee’s Education Department. Staff explain, “In pre-school establishments, time is devoted to teachers working closely with children — including focusing on particular interests. Early development studios are also gaining huge popularity at present.”