A recent study unearthed data that suggests that precocity at a young age, more often than not, fails to manifest itself in adulthood accomplishments. This isn't to say that they aren't successful, just not exceptional. A vast majority of these exceptional children grow up to be well adjusted and happy. They are as winning at a neighborhood social gathering as they once were in a childhood math spelling bee.
Why don't child prodigies often become adult geniuses? Nobody really knows but New York Times journalist Adam Grant argues that, "What holds them back is that they don't learn to be original." He further states, "The first step in raising a creative child is to back off."
He believes that they strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers but as they perform at Carnegie Hall, something unexpected happens: practice makes perfect, but it doesn't make new.
According to Grant, the gifted learn to play magnificent Mozart melodies, but rarely compose their own original scores. They focus their energy on consuming existing scientific knowledge, not producing new insights. They conform to codified rules, rather than inventing their own. Research suggests that the most creative children are the least likely to become the teacher's pet, and in response, many learn to keep their original ideas to themselves.
Something to keep in mind as you stare at your All-State player with adoration and your percussion section with contempt.
Thanks for reading and have a great week!
p.s. My parents backed off on my percussion lessons, and now I'm writing a newsletter. Just sayin...
p.p.s. It was great to see a Super Bowl halftime show that included choirs, orchestras, and bands. Go Dudamel and the Cal Marching Band!