Lang Lang, a famous pianist that originated from China, has many similarities and resemblance towards Josh Waitzkin, the protagonist from the movie ‘Searching for Bobby Fischer’. Both Lang Lang and Josh have strict educators, extraordinary talent, and not successful school lives.
I believe that having a strict educator for your talents is a high priority; the groundwork and beginnings of one’s gift must be well-founded, as anything learnt beyond the beginning is built on the foundation. Lang Lang originally had, during his childhood days in the suburbs, a very easy-going teacher, who encouraged and loved him as a child. He experienced compassion and kindheartedness with this teacher. However, his parents, thinking of his future, brought him into the city, where he was taught by a strict teacher, who treated him as an unfinished product which needs polishing and shaping up. Although Lang Lang strongly opposed this idea, his parents believed this was the best for him, as he had much more opportunities in the city. However, the transition between being a big fish in a small pond and a big fish in an even bigger pond was heartbreaking for him. He struggled to bring home prizes from tournaments, and ultimately, disappointed his parents. Although he had a rough time adjusting to his new environment, he ultimately overcame the struggle, and became one of the worlds’ most well known piano player.
Josh originally learnt chess and tactics from Vinny, a park-dweller who plays speed chess. However, when he showed exceptional talent in chess, a teacher, who was significantly more strict than Vinny, picked him up. Even with a stricter teacher, Josh did not show signs of giving-up, and he continued to strive for every win there possibly is. However, when he met a boy who had the same talent and skill as him during a lesson with his teacher, he learnt the valuable lesson: sometimes it is better to lose than to win. He then gave up his regional championship by losing to a player in 9 moves. Following this mishap, his teacher and father became stricter – stricter to a point where Josh’s will to play chess was shaken. However, Josh’s father took on a new approach that encouraged Josh more, and he ultimately won the national championship.
Extraordinary talent was observed both in Lang Lang and Josh as well. When Lang Lang was just starting out piano, his teacher noted that he can easily reciprocate any melodies that was played to him. Using only a class time (30 minutes), he can easily listen to a piece of classical music and play it back with ease. Also, Josh can, without teachers and other formal influence, play chess at a high level. This attribute can be observed when he was playing chess for the first time with a drunken guy in the park. Vinny observed that he used a high-level tactic – which was a surprise to many, as it was noted that this was the first time Josh had ever played chess.
I believe that schooling in the early to young ages of a child is very important, as it build the foundation to harder and more challenging material. However, Lang Lang’s schooling was very unsuccessful. He, as noted by his teachers, failed subjects such as math and science. Instead of spending time understanding these subjects, his parents urged him to ignore school and pursue and practice piano at least 5 hours a day. This led to him almost getting expelled, as he does not meet the graduation requirement for the grade. Josh, however does have grades that allow him to graduate and move on to the next grade level. It is his father that treated chess too seriously, and put chess above schoolwork, which was quite dangerous for Josh.
All in all, Lang Lang and Josh have a lot in common, however, many differences can be still identified. Both Lang Lang and Josh have strict instructors, extraordinary gift, and put their talents before education.