When it comes to how to raise children, how to teach them, who is gifted, & what is intelligence, etc.…there is controversy on all these kinds of issues. Have 10 people discuss how gifted children should be raised, and you may get 10 different opinions. As this is my page & my article, it will of course be my chance to express my views. (Feel welcome to offer your own views on the thread, but I don’t want any arguing with me or with the other views that are expressed. In other words, the thread is a platform for people to offer info & opinions—not the place to try debating or tearing other opinions down.) The purpose of this article is to help parents appreciate better that their child can be trained & taught to be a high achiever, and that the best place to do this is at home, doing homeschooling…not a public school. Of course, the parent needs to have balance. One father, who began intense training beginning in the cradle, did create a genius son—but his son ended up dysfunctional as a young man, and a failure at life. (This post is too short to go into how to have balance, but think it through folks…what is that child going to need in life??…there needs to be more than one tool (skill) in the toolbox, even if that skill is at a genius level.)
THE POWER OF TEACHING & THE NEED TO BE CHALLENGED. I have witnessed children that were written off as learning disabled turn out great, because the child had strong advocating parents who got the right help during the right windows of opportunity for the child to learn. For instance, proper speech has a window in which to learn it properly…go too long and the child’s mind is no longer flexible to learn it as well. Likewise, the enjoyment of work needs to be taught before age 13 or the child will most likely never enjoy working. Next, I want to discuss “gifted” children. In this subject, our superficial histories do a disservice. Typically, people think of some genius inventor just almost magically discovering something. For instance, the story of the apple falling on Newton’s head, and he supposedly realized gravity exists. Well, it did not happen that way. It took ten years of lots of thought, and as with so many inventions, they piggyback on what others have discovered. Study most genius inventors closely and they will say their success came from hard work!! Yes, hard work. Einstein-hard work. Newton-hard work. Edison-persistence & hard work. Over & over again you hear that from most. So guess what? If you have a bright child, then I believe with hard work & proper instruction, that child can be raised to a talented or genius level person. But even if the child is gifted—it must learn how to work! Nor do I believe that intelligence is fixed. Nor is it true that bright or gifted children don’t need special help.
THE NEED TO BE STIMULATED, CHALLENGED, & WORKED. The child needs to learn how to work, whether it is a gifted genius or average in learning abilities. Learning should be fun. It is terrible to waste a child’s mind, and that is what happens to the majority of bright students who go to public schools. Yes, I am aware of Dallas, TX’s TAG Magnet School for the Talented & Gifted (9-12th grade) which is rated the #1 public high school in the U.S. This is one of the few exceptions where a few of the talented & gifted get what they need, but by & large the minds of these children which have so much potential are destroyed in the public schools. I have encouraged parents to home school; and most parents until they try it, are quite insecure that they can pull it off. But there are homeschool groups where parents help each other, and there are other assets. I have seen normal people surprise themselves that they were successful at home schooling. Think about it, why should a teacher w/ 30 kids do better than you the parent who knows your child and can deal with your child one-to-one?? And when parents try, they discover it does not take as much time & the child can participate in more real life non-school activities. I think it is great if all of life is presented to the child as a learning experience. And real life is not your peer group, but mixing with all ages. Public schools distort reality, as the large peer groups are mis-identified in the child’s mind as society. Bright children often get ridiculed by students, ignored & mistreated by teachers. Sorry to say that, for sure it’s controversial, but I have seen that too much. In general, bright students will be more socially fit if they work in a home school environment, where they have to work. Also the stereotypes that people use and the labels they stick on children can be damaging. Instead of saying “You’re are so smart”, say “good job”. It is more important that they work, than the child think that it is smart no matter what it does.
AN EXAMPLE FROM HISTORY. There are genius kids that never amount to anything, because they don’t learn to work. Like I say, history doesn’t tell us all the work that went into the great achievements of history. In fact, when you research in-depth, you find lots of fabrications in the surface histories of successful people. There are many examples of what I am going to present, but space allows only one: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. When Mozart was 6 or 7, he began to tour Europe, & amaze audiences with his violin & harpsichord abilities. He was reported to be composing music at age 4, & wrote out a complex multi-part musical (Allegri’s Miserere) by memory at 14. So what is the reality behind this? Mozart’s father was a highly skilled violinist & a highly ambitious music teacher. His father had already successfully taught his sister from an early age. When Mozart was age 3, his father began teaching & having his son practice. We know from modern genetic research that skills & ability to learn are passed genetically, so Mozart was without a doubt “gifted”. But the secret to his success was hard work. Before Mozart played before the public at age 6, it is estimated he had 3,500 hrs. of practice under his belt. To make him appear more amazing, his father subtracted a year of age from the posters announcing Mozart’s music tours. While he did compose at age 4, he did nothing worthy of note. The first truly original-to-Mozart piece was his Concerto No. 9, K. 271, done when he was 21, with already ten yrs. practice in composing concertos. It took him ten years of experience to work up to a masterpiece. His earlier works were take-offs from the works of others. And as to memory—children with an intense interest in a subject can retain remarkable amounts of info. If we have specialized existing knowledge in a subject, our minds can do incredible feats of memory. Perhaps you know some man of average intelligence who knows every detail about his favorite sports team, and acquires new details quickly & accurately.
FINAL THOUGHTS. Gaining craftsmanshift, expertise, and good work habits takes practice & training. No genius is successful by spontaneously just magically creating success. Genuine in-depth history shows that grit & creativity are important. No one should write a child off, as the System tries to do with kids they label. The child can succeed if properly handled. On the flip side, it is possible to train a child too hard & overdo it. I know a father that knew his son had the physical abilities to make it to the pros in basketball, but the relentless practice, drove the son to hate the game. There needs to be a balance in how the child is handled & skillfully motivated. The fluidity of genius, like in Mozart, was a combination of giftedness & proper early training. His abilities that he was born with were not unlike the rest of us. Your child might also be a Mozart. There you have it, some of my thoughts.