Paloma Noyola: The Next Steve Jobs?

cover_2111_best5Mexico has found a new heroine: A 12-year-old math whiz from a state plagued by drug violence who was dubbed ‘The Next Steve Jobs’ by US magazine Wired. The youngest of eight children from a modest family, Paloma Noyola was thrown under the media spotlight since Wired magazine featured her on its cover two weeks ago.

She has appeared in national newspapers and on cable news, redubbed ‘La Nina Jobs’ — ‘The Jobs Girl’ — with photographers and cameramen chasing the girl nicknamed after Apple’s late founder.

Last year, the girl whose school lies next to a dump across the US border wowed the country when she scored the maximum 921 in the national standardized exam, the best in Mexico. Her father died of lung cancer last year and her family earns an income from selling scrap metal and food in Matamoros, a city tormented for years by a turf war between the Zetas and Gulf drug cartels.

While Noyola made the cover of Wired, it was her teacher’s radical methods that featured prominently in the magazine’s story. Sergio Juarez Correa, 32, saw his entire class’s Spanish and math scores dramatically improve after he implemented a new approach, allowing students to tap into their own curiosity and self-learning to solve problems.

Juarez Correa took inspiration from the ‘minimally invasive education’ concept of Sugata Mitra, a professor of educational technology at Britain’s Newcastle University. While Noyola garnered attention for acing the national exam last year, nine other students scored more than 900 in the math test.

The school is located in a ‘punishment zone’ for education, dubbed that way because no professor wants to be there due to the high level of crime and dismal infrastructure. The school lacks basic services such as running water, drainage or a telephone line — an all-too-common problem in Mexican classrooms.

‘If Paloma had the same opportunities or open doors as Steve Jobs, she probably would be a genius in this subject,’ says Juarez.

Please read the complete story appeared on Wired here:


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