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.