“Najmlađi najboljić” – How programmers from elementary school’s 2nd grade are treated by Croatian institutions

HRVATI: Pogledajte video na kraju članka. Pred kraj videa je otipkana ova priča koju u nastavku pišem na engleskom. (Također, ispod videa, još malo teksta na hrvatskom.)

IN ENGLISH: For my foreign readers, here’s a VERY quick overview of how very talented kids got treated during the last several years, and how well national computer science competition’s official rules are handled by the National Competition’s Committee for computer science, and the Croatian Education and Teacher Training Agency, are handling a super-smart second grader.

Usually, in Croatia, kids that go to computer science competitions do so in elementary school from fifth to eight grade, as well as during the entire high school. That’s fine. Dorijan Lendvaj was, however, a second-grader in 2012.

Nowhere was it said that children younger than fifth-grade can’t compete. It’s not forbidden. There is no limitation for children to compete from fifth-grade upwards. And as far as I know, so it was since 1992, when the national competition was first held. Rules definitely did not change during the 2000s, the decade when I competed between seventh grade and high school’s fourth grade. There were always some fourth-graders. Younger kids didn’t compete because they did not yet understand programming well enough to understand the problems, much less solve them.

At least during 2000s, there was always a division between P1 and P2 — fifth and sixth grade, and seventh and eight grade. That’s fine. Pre-fifth-graders simply competed in P1. That is no longer the case.

So what’s the problem? Since AZOO (that’s the agency) took over the organizing, they took on the task of setting the rules. Let’s see what’s up in the elementary school. There was the rule that the ranking list for INVITATION from county to the national level is based on several age groups: pre-fifth and fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade and eight grade. Does that make sense? Little, but let’s go with the flow. There is a small number of pre-fifth-graders, so it perhaps makes little sense to organize a separate competition.

During AZOO era, problems were also written based on those groups instead of P1 and P2. That’s also fine, for the same reason.

But that makes it more shocking that AZOO decided they did NOT need to apply the rule that AZOO EXPLICITLY DID NOT CHANGE. That rule says: ALL RANKING LISTS AT NATIONAL LEVEL ARE BASED ON CHILD’S GRADE. That is, even if Dorijan is the sole second-grade competitor on the national level, he wins the competition.

He should have won in 2012, when he was a second-grader, right? The same year that Dorijan and a third grader (Ivan Jambrešić) were given special, one-shot “recognitions” for being young competitors, right?

NO. HE AND IVAN JAMBREŠIĆ WERE RANKED AS IF THEY WERE FIFTH-GRADERS. DORIJAN WAS RANKED AS FIFTH, and denied the national-level award called “Oscar of Knowledge”.

This blatant disregard for THEIR OWN RULES was quickly remedied during the current school year 2012/2013, just before the 2013 competition. How?

NEW RULES STATE THAT ONLY FIFTH-GRADERS AND UP CAN COMPETE. Dorijan, who successfully competed with FIFTH-GRADE-LEVEL TASKS AS THE SOLE SECOND-GRADER has for his success been rewarded with A TWO YEAR BAN FROM THE COMPETITION. The only second-grader that managed to reach the state-level competition based on county-level competition lists which included him in fifth grade level (rightfully, according to the rules) has not only been rewarded with incorrect reading of very clear rules (“national-level ranks are categorized by grade”) but by BAN FROM COMPETING UNTIL HE REACHES FIFTH GRADE.

I also saw some signs that fifth and sixth graders may also soon be done away with. There is absolutely no doubt about it that this is about Dorijan.

What’s more to say? Deterioration of computer science competitions in Croatia seems to be near completion. They have transformed from a celebration of youth and intellect into a teacher’s point-scoring fest, in which teachers (MANY OF WHOM DON’T WORK WITH CHILDREN OR WORK VERY POORLY WITH THEM — I applaud the exceptions, of course) fight for points, which they are then promoted with and earn a better paycheck.

That’s right: teachers who are blatantly preferring getting better paychecks than advancing their students’ minds. Teachers who prefer fighting for their pockets against anyone who is truly interested in children’s wellbeing. Teachers who prefer BANNING SECOND AND THIRDGRADERS over relenting and SIMPLY AWARDING THE KID the award that is RIGHTFULLY his, according to the RULES THEY THEMSELVES WROTE.

Should the right to correct a wrong be allowed to expire? I don’t think so. Especially with talented kids like Dorijan.

Here’s a video about Dorijan in which you can see that, as a second grader, he understands equations, square roots, fractions, multiplication and division better than many adults in the room! It’d be awesome if you could speak Croatian, but even if you don’t, it’s an interesting video.

If he doesn’t deserve a separate category and to win the national competition, who does? If he wasn’t the best second-grader in the state, who is?

Or is Dorijan magically only the fifth-best fifth grader in the state? (And if you know to perform this act of age-shifting, please do tell me. I’d love to adjust my age a bit or do other wondrous transformations. Like turning a piece of paper into an iPad.)

“Dorijan Lendvaj obožava sekicu Doru i brata Vilima, mamu i tatu te jako voli programiranje. Iznimno je vješt u programskim jezicima Logo i C++. Odličan je učenik, sklon matematici, i voli se igrati, a ponekad i tako da programira robote.

On je najmlađi najboljić u povijesti državnih natjecanja iz informatike u Republici Hrvatskoj, a još uvijek nije upisan u listu državnih pobjednika.

Ako ga pitate koji je bio na posljednjem državnom natjecanju (ožujak 2012.), on će reći da je bio peti, jer tako još uvijek u službenim evidencijama i piše, iako dobro zna da je bio prvi. Više nego dobro zna da je najmlađi pobjednik državnog natjecanja iz informatike u povijesti.

Dorijan Lendvaj, divan i predobar daroviti Čovjek iz Popovače. Zlatni CROCalien za 2012.”

Još o fantomskim priznanjima


Dorijan Lendvaj je u 2012. bio drugi razred. Pravilnik državnog natjecanja iz informatike je, otkad je Agencija za odgoj i obrazovanje preuzela organizaciju, zadržao pravilo “rangiranje na državnom natjecanju se radi po razredima”. I tako je izričito pisalo do prosinca 2012.

Što znači da kad se Dorijan Lendvaj natjecao kao jedini drugašić koji je uopće uspio doći do državnog natjecanja, trebao je adekvatno biti rangiran i pobijediti, je li tako?

Ne, naravno da nije. Nekoliko zadnjih godina za redom, organizatori državnog natjecanja uporno ponavljaju grešku i ne čitaju svoj pravilnik kako spada. Dorijan je rangiran u “dobnoj skupini” koja je nazvana “do 5. razreda”. Nažalost, ne postoji razred “do 5. razreda”, a takve dobne skupine definirane su samo za, primjerice, pozivanje na državno natjecanje ili za sastavljanje zadataka. No kad učenik dođe na državno natjecanje, pravilo je bilo (i trebalo se poštovati) da se konačna rang ljestvica formira po razredima.

Dorijan je pobijedio, trebao dobiti nagradu “Oskar znanja”, ali magično se transformirao u petaša i zaradio peto mjesto. Kakva je to magija? Može se to negdje naučiti?

E sad, nije to jedina nagrada koju je dobio od državnog povjerenstva i organizatora. O, ne ne! To bi bilo prejednostavno. Dorijan je dobio i nagradu koju možemo nazvati “natjecati se mogu samo učenici petog razreda naviše”, UVEDENA U PROSINCU 2013.

Naravno, u tu nagradu nisu uključeni ni kipić ni medalja nagradu. Bogme nije ni uključeno PRIZNANJE kakvo je POČETKOM natjecanja Dorijan dobio 2012. kao jedan od najmlađih sudionika ikada (ako ne i najmlađi).

I nije Dorijan jedini. Iste 2012. u istu skupinu (isto priznanje) stavljen je i Ivan Jambrešić.

Zašto pričam primarno o Dorijanu, a ne toliko i o Ivanu? Gore je zgodan filmić u kojem se vidi da ako itko NE ZASLUŽUJE TAKAV TRETMAN, onda je to ipak netko pametan poput Dorijana.

Dakle u drugom razredu dečko kuži jednadžbe, korijene, razlomke i “brojeve veće od 10”. Na kraju videa je isto i tekst, sažetak cijele priče.

Ovogodišnji rezultati kluba iz Popovače

Thoughts?

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One thought on ““Najmlađi najboljić” – How programmers from elementary school’s 2nd grade are treated by Croatian institutions

  1. Nikola Plejić

    Moram priznati da sam s nevjericom gledao kako rješava onu jednadžbu k’o veliki. 🙂

    Kao i obično, ljudi zaduženi za brigu o našim najtalentiranijim malim sugrađanima će učiniti sve što je u njihovoj moći da im otežaju život i ubiju svaku volju za radom. Umjesto da se Dorijana istakne kao primjer koji može motivirati i drugu djecu, još ga se kažnjava jer se usudio biti bolji od prosjeka.

    AZOO je ova natjecanja zbilja doveo do apsurda, a očiti nedostatak volje da se ovakve stvari isprave samo pokazuje koliko nadležni cijene izvrsnost kod učenika i koliko su spremni ulagati (pri čemu najmanje mislim na financije) u perspektivne mlade ljude.

    Sramota.

    Reply

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