Reading backwards: the true hallmark of a complete education


Thank you, Shanghaiist for letting us know what's going on in certain Chinese education circles.

The principal of the 150-student Henan Child Prodigy School (河南神童学校), Zhang Xuexin (张学新) says he has devised a revolutionary method of training the right brain of children to make them child prodigies. His students can not only memorise their textbooks and ancient poetry, they can actually recite them backwards. Throughout the school and around classrooms, one sees banners such as "China's first school that teaches education of the total brain" (中国第一所全脑教育学校), "Today's child prodigy, tomorrow's talent" (今日东方神童,明日世纪天才) and "I am a child prodigy, I am a memory expert" (我是神童,我是记忆天才).

My only question is--recited backwards phoenetically, or just sequentially? I was always of the phonetically school: being backwards at the most elemental level seemed superior. If only this had been my school growing up; my backwards recitations and signatures ("Ykceb") were always greeted with barely contained annoyance. And encouragements to try out for whatever regional poor man's Star Search happening to be begging for talent. Doing things backwards seemed like just another fun supplement (e.g. Opposite Day) to an intensely regimented schooling. Anyone else go through a retrograde phase?