Monday, April 19, 2010

Child Prodigies

Taken from The Star Online.

According to Dr David Henry Feldman, “a child prodigy is a child younger than 10 years old who can perform at the level of a highly trained adult in a very demanding field of endeavor.” They are like little Mozarts and Einsteins that act like little innocent kids but can beat you at your game so bad, you have to call them sifu (if he's a prodigy at your field).

They mostly strive in the field of music, maths and even chess but not so in the form of business, law, dance and writing.

According to author Alissa Quart, prodigies are found more in quantitative fields like maths, and less in qualitative disciplines,where it are hard to measure. Also, contrary to beliefs, high IQ is not correlated to being a prodigy. According to Australian educational specialist for gifted children, many creative children don't do well in standardized exams. Ellen Winner, a psychology professor and a book author on gifted children, says parents play a vital role in providing stimulating environments for their child to grow and they themselves are often related in the same field as their prodigy child , Pablo Picasso's father was an artist, Mozart's dad was a musician.

Author Quart states that the overly pressured children can lead to emotional and mental problems like anxiety and low self esteem. Brandenn Bremmer who entered college at age 10, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in 2005 at the age of 14. He said in an interview with Quart: “America is a society that demands perfection.” Some gifted youngsters couldn't cope while others have breakdowns due to self-image problems when they fail to achieve, according to Alan Goldberg, an US sports psychology consultant.

Psychologist Lewis Terman studied 1,500 indicated child prodigies throughout their lives in a 1921 study on intelligence. He found that being gifted in early life is not a guarantee for success in life, many them didn't make it when they reached adulthood. Dr Feldman explains that this is because prodigies specialize in one certain area,not overall. The focus in developing one area leads to neglecting other areas. In the early 20th century, Erwin Nyiregyhazi, a piano prodigy, couldn't even tie his own shoes at the age of 21.

Contrary to the earlier study, Terman’s studies showed that many of his subjects made huge contribution to humanity. Examples: Physicist Isaac Newton, double Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie, composer Felix Mendelssohn, and violin genius and conductor Yehudi Menuhin.
Child prodigies who failed to meet expectations, make the news, but those who live quietly and successfully hardly draw any attention ironically. Also, interestingly not all child start as prodigies but end up changing the world, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein are just two of other blokes who made themselves into brilliant scientists. No body knew they existed in the beginning.

Look at this dude,

(oh they make mistakes too hehe, this is the only time when we get to laugh at them,just kidding of course)

Check out more examples of people you might be awed or envied at


S.S.Yoga. (2008). Child prodigy : two sides of genius. Retrieved March 18,2010 from

Posted by Eric Ong Chee Hoe, T3

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