Taking a break from writing about how to accelerate a person's learning, I shall talk more about why it should be done.
A recent article I read here on the BBC website suggests that there's increasing evidence that hard work beats talent. I would think so from personal experience, and sadly to say, thinking myself as talented in certain aspects has indeed hindered my development to excellence in certain ways.
Of course this is not to say that talent doesn't play a part, but because we're also impacted psychologically by such perception, over time, our perceptions, whether true or false, eventually become true to varying extents all dependent on how much we believe in this stuff. I ever mentioned before, that the mind is exceedingly powerful, and all it takes is time for it to work wonders.
Hence, by teaching someone early using the correct steps to inculcate important and useful skills (much like installing very advanced and powerful drivers on your computer), one could literally engineer a child prodigy. Although effort amongst kiasu Singaporeans have resulted in some toddlers being sent for pre-school or sort-of tuition classes at the age of around 18 months old, I highly doubt that their failure is a testimonial to this approach being impossible. For one, these tuition or pre-school centres are just trying to make their buck from our kiasu Singaporeans and thus are probably converted from normal pre-school centres. This means that there was little or no consideration as to the learning style of such young toddlers and hence a non-adapted teaching style. And hence, no surprise, it is bound to fail from the start.
If proper research could be done on early teaching (I'm looking at the psychologists here), then accelerated learning could very well be possible, we would have more child prodigies contributing to the world (hopefully many in technological areas) and thus increase the productive time period of a typical human being. Right now, a typical Singaporean only starts contributing significantly to the economy, i.e. the GDP, once he has graduated at a modal age of around 25 (i think). I wonder how low can we press this value to? While medical science aims to increase the upper value, i.e. our life expectancy, so that we may have more years to contribute, we should aim to lower the starting age as well. Why isn't there much research into this?
Of course, play is important as well, if you're thinking that throwing young people out to school so early is harsh. I myself am a very strong advocate of play (even at the age of 20). Thing is, it's extremely possible to learn and play at the same time. I don't mean those crap textbook kind of games like the Jump Start x Grade series. I mean things like SpaceChem, SimCity, and even Pokémon (if you go all out for competitive battling, there's a damn hell lot to think about. Check out Smogon University if you don't believe me and read some of their analysis and studies). These games are fun, addictive, and really make you think.
It can be done, we should try to push for it. Come on! Let's make the human race advance! Maybe we can even reach a Kardashev Type I civilisation this century!