Publication Details

Vialle, W. & Ziegler, A. (2016). Gifted education in modern Asia: Analyses from a systemic perspective. In D. Y. Dai & C. C. Kuo (Eds.), Gifted Education in Asia: Problems and Prospects (pp. 273-291). Charlotte, United States: Information Age Publishing.


When we were invited to comment on chapters describing gifted educa· tion in Asian countries, we were reminded of Mikhail Gorbachev's famous dictum "Life punishes those who delay." Asian countries entered gifted education and research on excellence relatively late compared to many Western nations (e.g., Stern, 1914). Nevertheless, there are examples that suggest the opposite may be true, that is, latecomers might also have some advantage. A famous example for the latter claim is the case of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. Both are suspension bridges linking the U.S. city of San Francisco to Marin County and the Japanese city of Kobe on the mainland of Honshu to Iwaya on Awaji Island, respectively. When the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began in 1933, the longest span of 1,280 meters seemed almost impossible to build. However, half a century later in 1988 when the construction of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge began, the architects could take advantage of the experiences of their predecessor. While many consider the huge Japanese bridge a highly intelligent copy, the copy clearly surpassed its model. At the time it boasted the longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world at 1,991 meters. The height of the highest pylon was 282.8 meters compared to Golden Gate's 227.4 meters. The first Asian country to enter the stage of gifted education was Taiwan in 1962. Other countries such as China (1978), Korea (1983), Singapore (1984), and Turkey (2000) followed later. In our contribution, we want to speculate whether Gorbachev's admonition applies to gifted education in Asia or whether Asia was able to build a much more "advanced bridge" than its Western predecessors.