Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Amri Hanson - Genius in the making

Published:Sunday | July 10, 2016 | 7:00 AMPaul H. Williams
From left: Keith Maroghini Hanson, Amri Hanson and Sheenia Thaxter-Hanson. Amri will be attending Campion College come September.

You hear 12-year-old Amri Hanson speak about Einstein's theory of general relativity and other scientific concepts that many adults will never comprehend and you wonder what manner of child he is.

Significantly self-taught and homeschooled, he also attended the Sankofa Preparatory School and Learning Centre in St Thomas, and come September, he will enter Campion College in St Andrew with a GSAT average of 98 per cent.

His placement at Campion did not come as a surprise to the precocious youngster, his teachers and his parents, Sheenia Thaxter-Hanson and Keith Maroghini Hanson. They have always known he was gifted.

 

Competitive Student

 

His grade five and six teacher, Nordia Phillips, described him as an outgoing, self-motivated student who loves to read. He is competitive in a positive way, and likes challenges, she told Arts & Education. The youngster with a photographic memory does not mind being corrected, she said. She was surprised that he did not get the 100 per cent average.

Upon hearing his results, Amri said he was "a little bit glad" that he got into Campion. There was no celebration. His mother said it was no big deal; nonetheless she, too, was happy with the placement. She hopes that he gets what he needs at Campion, and will not be bored. The youngster moves very fast with his learning.

His parents started him off by buying him a variety of books. His bedside storybooks included those about the stars and what things are made of, his mother said, and he gravitated towards the subjects of meteorology and astrology, asking for those books to be read to him. Then he would start to read them on his own, falling asleep with them.

 

Explaining concepts

 

From a very early age, he could explain the concepts and lessons from these books. And he would go further, challenging information in these very books and from his teachers, identifying errors. His father said he was worried that his precociousness would be a problem to his teachers, and it did become such. He challenged them and won many times, which some did not find amusing, especially if the defeat occurred in front of other students.

Even his own parents have been dealt the sharpness of his intellect. "I used to be silently upset ... It's a mixture of upset, envy, and embarrassment when we would have debates and he outclassed me ... embarrassing me, an adult," his father confessed. "It happened to me all the time," his mother chimed in.

From the wide range of books they gave him, he became interested in many topics, ranging from palaeontology to zoology, to biology, to anatomy, to astronomy, to astrophysics, to quantum physics. Now, he wants to focus on theoretical physics, specifically astrophysics and quantum physics, and biology. And he is not just dropping names. He knows exactly what he is saying. He can eloquently explain, compare, and differentiate between all these subjects.

In response to a question about the practicality of his interest in topics such as astrophysics, the physics of astrology, he defined it, he said, "It's good to know what's out there. You don't want to live somewhere and not know what's happening in the sky. It can be kind of scary not knowing what is out there." And about quantum physics, the physics of subatomic particles, he said, "It's good to know what's happening on the small scale."

It's all about the acquisition of knowledge for the scholar whose mother calls him 'Professor A'. And he does not sit and wait for it to come along. He is going to find it, leaving no stone unturned, even if it means carrying out his own experiments.

 

Incorporates Science

 

Experimenting is one of his many hobbies. He incorporates science in everything he does, even at play. He is not satisfied with the what, only. He wants to know how and why. Yet, it is not all about complex scientific concepts, Amri wants to be an avid 'YouTuber' and video gamer. He said is "an amazing place" on which to make money and meet people. He wants to sell educational and video gaming content.

Add to the mix law, medicine and aviation. But should he just focus on one particular thing, and be guided towards it? Amri thinks not, the world is for him to conquer. His father agrees. "I love freedom a lot, and I prefer to give him free rein, and coaching along the way, but let him flow his flow, and not my flow, or the society's flow," the elder Hanson said.

Thus, Amri said he does not want to go to high school for the regular five years. He wants to finish in as short a time as possible so that he can open his own school, write his fantasy and science books, and embark upon working on two of his projects.

He hopes to find students at Campion who share his academic and research interests. His biggest challenge, he said, is to meet peers whose interests are similar to his.