Welcome to a collection of thoughts, questions and interesting links relating to giftedness ..............
You may also like to check out my website where you will find more information for children, parents and teachers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More to learn from the lives of Nobel Laureates

I was searching for an article for someone today. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did come across an article titled Nobel Laureates: Their Parents' Influence which appeared in the Parenting for High Potential magazine published by the NAGC in the USA. If you are interested to read more about the role parenting practices and the family environment can play you may like to read the article.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Road to Eminence

Our fascination with those who achieve eminence is not new. Those who have stood above the rest for a variety of reasons have been written about in history books and spoken about in traditions of oral history since time began. 

Looking at the lives of such people can provide us with some insights as to the best conditions for nurturing eminence. There were a number of presentations at the World Gifted Conference earlier this year that probed the lives of eminent people and the paths they took.

Contrary to what we might expect, the majority of people who go on to achieve eminence do not show early precocity that might predict their later achievements with only around 10% showing skill at 11 or 12 years of age that would have predicted their achievements in their 20’s and beyond.

About 1 in 5 was described as being odd or eccentric as a child. The pressure on our gifted young people who are perhaps amongst this ‘fringe dwelling’ subset to ‘normalise’ may result in repressing the very characteristics that would serve them well in their futures.

Our highest achieving students are not necessarily those bound for future eminence. Valedictorians tended to go on to have well rounded and successful careers but were not the ones to change the world. Being comfortable as they were with the status quo (which is why they did well) they did not tend to be the rule breakers………..

The presence of adversity in some form was another common theme in the lives of eminent people and this proved to be catalyzing in some way. The resilience developed as a result is perhaps where its value lies. Families of eminent people were also very important with parents often opinionated and encouraging of debate. They fostered inquiring minds and creativity along with a love of learning.

They tended not to be a first born child, to have high but not necessarily the highest intelligence, to see rules as there to be broken or at least stretched, to be energetic, tenacious and discontent with the status quo. Perseverance was a strong common thread.

Another study looking at the childhood and adolescence of Nobel Laureates in science investigated was aiming to find out best to fully develop the science and innovative abilities of gifted and talented children. A common factor for them all was a GREAT teacher (not just a good one) at some point, either in school or later or who taught in a unique and exceptional way, reinforcing how critical it is for our gifted youth to be taught by the gifted and inspiring teachers.

How can we use this information to foster our young and gifted?
Perhaps by encouraging them to study the lives of eminent people, to see the role of persistence, of questioning, thinking outside the square and having a goal to work towards in defining their futures can only be helpful. Communicating the message that creativity is needed in all fields of endeavour, not just in the arts. By encouraging innovation and celebrating serendipity. Cultivating wide ranging interests is also likely to improve the chance of finding the field of endeavour that is their 'thing'. (Sir Ken Robinson has lots more to say on this subject)

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