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Child Prodigies Seldom Excel as Adults



(p. 15) Child prodigies are exotic creatures, each unique and inexplicable. But they have a couple of things in common, as Ann Hulbert's meticulous new book, "Off the Charts," makes clear: First, most wunderkinds eventually experience some kind of schism with a devoted and sometimes domineering parent. "After all, no matter how richly collaborative a bond children forge with grown-up guides, some version of divorce is inevitable," Hulbert writes. "It's what modern experts would call developmentally appropriate." Second, most prodigies grow up to be thoroughly unremarkable on paper. They do not, by and large, sustain their genius into adulthood.


. . .


The very traits that make prodigies so successful in one arena -- their obsessiveness, a stubborn refusal to conform, a blistering drive to win -- can make them pariahs in the rest of life. Whatever else they may say, most teachers do not in fact appreciate creativity and critical thinking in their own students. "Off the Charts" is jammed with stories of small geniuses being kicked out of places of learning. Matt Savage spent two days in a Boston-area Montessori preschool before being expelled. Thanks to parents who had the financial and emotional resources to help him find his way, he is now, at age 25, a renowned jazz musician.



For the full review, see:

AMANDA RIPLEY. "Gifted and Talented and Complicated." The New York Times Book Review (Sunday, January 21, 2018): 15.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date JAN. 17, 2018.)


The book under review, is:

Hulbert, Ann. Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.






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