Be Terrified: Hong Kong's Banker Babies Are Learning Finance in Pre-K

I promise, there's a useful lesson here.

And here ladies and gentlemen, we have every American anxiety about education and our place in the global economy, reduced to a single, nursery-school white board. Burson-Marsteller's Mariko Sanchanta tweets this picture from a Hong Kong pre-school (h/t to Business Insider).  

It's like they're trying to raise an entire brood of eTrade babies. Horrifying. 

But anyway, I do think there's a constructive lesson to be learned here, and not just that Hong Kong is apparently one enormous trading floor. The children of China's semi-autonomous metropolis are known for dominating international math tests, along with Asian neighbors Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. And part of that success almost certainly stems from a cultural comfort with numbers, which they start pressing early on (extremely early on, in the case of this school). As personal point of comparison, I went to a New York City elementary school where at least a few of my classmates were actually bankers' babies, and I didn't learn jack about the stock market until 5th grade (Everyone in class had to pick a portfolio and track it, and since this was the late 90s, we all made money and acquired wildly inflated expectations for what our financial futures would hold).

That said, Hong Kong toddlers probably aren't quite prepared to steal first-year analyst jobs from 22-year-old bankers. In 2009, the American Institutes of Research released a report comparing elementary school math in Massachusetts and Hong Kong, and faux ticker aside, Chinese kids don't appear to be learning percentage change anywhere close to that early. Not yet, at least.

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Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

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