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Meet Britain's Doogie Howser, J.D.


Britain’s legal system, hundreds of years old, is still breaking new ground. The British bar has just admitted to the bar 18-year old Gabrielle Turnquest as the youngest lawyer in British history. As one might expect, Turnquest was ahead of the curve from an early age, earning a college degree in psychology at the age of 16 and a legal degree two years later. Interestingly, the Guardian notes that a unique brand of homeschooling played a key role in speeding her through the early years of her education so quickly:

A lawyer from Nassau in the Bahamas, [Turnquest’s mother] moved the family there from Florida when Turnquest was a child. Deciding the school system wasn’t challenging enough for her bright kids, she spent several months researching curriculums from around the world, looking at which countries were doing best in which subjects and why.

Then she turned all that into her own educational plan, rented space in her office building, hired teachers and enrolled her children on to a programme she named Excelsior Academy. She even made a school uniform for them. […]

When Turnquest was 12, the family moved back to the US and the children went back to schools. By this time she was far ahead of her classmates.

Turnquest’s story is certainly unusual, but it also highlights a key difference between the American educational system and many others. In the UK, students can get law degrees as undergraduates, and they usually finish college in three years. Particularly gifted students like Turnquest can go even faster. In America, by contrast, one of the functions of our educational system is to make sure that the fast kids graduate pretty much at the same time as the slower ones. There’s no doubt that many students in the US could progress much faster, but there are fewer opportunities for them to do so.

In the future, we are going to need a more individualized and flexible educational system. Such a system might help more bright kids rack up achievements early, saving their parents and society a bundle of money in the process.

[Law scales image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Corlyss

    “one of the functions of our educational system is to make sure that the fast kids graduate pretty much at the same time as the slower ones.”
    And that doesn’t even address the fact that in a lot of schools the fast are supposed to act as TAs and coach the slow ones. Just another reason why the American education system, which used to be one of the finest on the planet, is now such a cesspool of dysfunction, political posturing, inappropriate goals, featherbedding, and corruption.

    • Kavanna

      Yes, isn’t the point of the “blue social model,” applied to education, to *prevent* such results?

      • Corlyss

        Which results?

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