Nature or Nurture. A modern perspective.
Nurturing a talented child
“Setting out to raise a genius is the last thing we’d advise any parent to do,” says Camilla Benbow, dean of education and human development at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. That goal, she says, “can lead to all sorts of social and emotional problems”.
Benbow and other talent-development researchers offer the following tips to encourage both achievement and happiness for smart children.
- Expose children to diverse experiences.
- When a child exhibits strong interests or talents, provide opportunities to develop them.
- Support both intellectual and emotional needs.
- Help children to develop a ‘growth mindset’ by praising effort, not ability.
- Encourage children to take intellectual risks and to be open to failures that help them learn.
- Beware of labels: being identified as gifted can be an emotional burden.
- Work with teachers to meet your child’s needs. Smart students often need more-challenging material, extra support or the freedom to learn at their own pace.
- Have your child’s abilities tested. This can support a parent’s arguments for more-advanced work, and can reveal issues such as dyslexia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or social and emotional challenges.
I want to thank Grant Brown for pointing out to me an article entitled ”How to raise a genius: lessons from a 45-year study of super-smart children.” in this September’s issue of Nature.
I highly recommend the reader take a closer look at this article. In the chess world we are daily confronted with arguments and counter-arguments regarding nature vs nurture, prodigies and the learning curve, and we often fail to realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The issue is infact very complex, much more so than originally thought, and the use of labels (for example) creates harmful and unhelpful stereotypes.