Here I thought it was impressive that I won a regional science fair at the age of 12. But now comes the story of M.Lavinashree, a girl from the Tamil Nadu state in India, who has passed the Microsoft Certified Professional exam at the age of 9. I first read about this on Engadget last week and was really impressed, but now that I’ve looked into it a bit further I’m not so sure about it.
First of all, I can’t quite tell how old she is: All the various articles about her say she’s 9, but the website dedicated to her says she’s 8, as does Wikipedia. The video below says she’s 9, and appears to be a news report from India, so I’m inclined to believe it. But, the question of her age aside, why do none of the articles about her suggest that she’s being pushed too far?
She’s obviously a very smart kid, and that’s great. But how many kids that age decide to take the MCP exam on their own? And how many families who claim never to force their kids to study put up websites crowing about their kids’ achievements the way this kid’s family has? Could they repeat the words "child prodigy" a little more often, maybe? Seriously, whether she’s 8 or 9, no matter where she comes from, she deserves to be able to be a kid without too much pressure from her family and, possibly, her government.
It doesn’t help that this story is being bounced around all over the world. Lavinashree must know that she’s become famous, and surely that contributes to the pressure on her to succeed. Here’s hoping that she’ll ask her family to ease off, and to let her spend some time being a kid—she’ll have plenty of time to do all these things when she’s older. Being a "child prodigy" isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be, especially if it involves the word "Microsoft."