Curtsy to a facebook friend for posting this piece on Kelvin Doe, a 15-year-old from Sierra Leone who's a self-taught engineering whiz. It's a great human interest story, but what caught my attention is that Kelvin Doe is presented as a prodigy. Maybe he is --he's clearly very bright-- but I don't get the impression he's a prodigy so much as a very determined fellow. Calling him a prodigy detracts from the real story, because it suggests that only he with his unique gifts could do something like this.
I think the real story is about motivation and what marvels ordinary human beings can accomplish when they set their minds to a problem and have the freedom to do so. His mentor gets it right when he says Sierra Leone has received a lot of foreign aid over the years, but it doesn't make any difference if young people don't have minds to think and aren't encouraged to apply their intelligence to problem-solving.
Update: now with actual video. Sorry. Blogger keeps eating videos for some reason.