Several years ago, I attended a Christmas Eve midnight Mass so packed there was standing room only. I was standing next to a young man I discovered was in his second year of senior high school. I tried out some English on him but drew a complete blank. I agreed to give him free lessons, not just in English, but also in mathematics. He is now at university, but he still studies English with me every week, and has also found a research student to help him out with programming. He has now written 18 programs, including one with an algorithm he came up with himself, and that I include in my own lecture notes on string matching.
We should stop criticizing the younger generation. As students we were hardly saints ourselves, and I doubt we were all so very hard-working.
I’ll admit, my students do tend to spend more time having fun than I did, and my doctoral students spend an awful lot of time playing badminton — there is one who also plays in a hockey tournament every year — but they are all extremely hard-working, and I appreciate every one of them.
Lee Chia-tung is an honorary professor at National Tsing Hua University.
Translated by Paul Cooper