A prodigy is a child who shows the ability to perform at very high levels in the mode of a well trained adult in a field deemed extremely difficult and under very demanding circumstances in early age. For example, Akrit Jaswal is a young Indian who came to public attention by performing as a surgeon at the age of 7. His patient is an eight-year-old girl whose fingers close into a tight fist that couldn’t open. He managed to free her fingers without formal medical training or experience of surgery and she could use her hands normally.
Akrit Jaswal is called “the world’s smartest boy” or a wunderkind because of his extraordinary ability. Some people think that Akrit and other wunderkinds are born while others argue that they are made. That is the matter on which Andrew Marshall ponders in his article. At the beginning of the article named “Small Wonders”, Andrew Marshall introduces 2 prodigies who are Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and Abigail Sin. An asked question is whether prodigies are innate or made through many factors of the outside.
Some experts reckon that they are born because of activities in their brains which are different from ordinary children. Other experts think that prodigies are made while a number of others believe they are half born and half made. In conclusion, no matter which view is correct, some experts suggest that people should treat the child prodigies as the average children and let them can have a wonderful childhood. In reality, there are a large number of researches were carried out to find the answer for the asked question: “are prodigies born or made? ”.
In the article, Andrew Marshall introduces a study of Michael O’Boyle. He is an American psychologist working in Australia, has recently utilized fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scanning of blood flow during mental operation in prodigies to display startling results. Scans showed six or seven times more metabolic activity in the right side of prodigies’ brains. In other researches, Paul Thompson and his colleagues used MRI to study the brains of 20 pairs of identical and fraternal twins. They found that intelligence was linked significantly to the amount of brain matter in the frontal lobes.
An EEG (electroencephalogram) study of working memory found that high IQ individuals showed activated areas in the rear of the brain. In EEG studies of alpha waves done by Norbert Jausovec on high IQ individuals revealed that they used less mental effort than average IQ individuals when solving closed problems; highly creative and gifted individuals used less mental effort in creative problem solving. In short, all the researches above showed that prodigies are different from average children by activities of their brains so they are born not made.
On the opposite viewpoint, some people believe that prodigies are made by factors of the environment which are parents and education. Schinichi Suzuki, creator of the Suzuki Method of training young musicians, stated that “There is no inborn talent for music ability”. Another person supports this point is Oliver James who also contributes regularly to the Comment page of The Guardian. He said that “There are virtually no authenticated cases of prodigies who have come from families in which they were not hothoused or otherwise helped”.
He gave an example about the tennis players Williams sisters whose father declared his intention of creating world-beaters from the moment of their birth. Williams sisters and nearly all prodigious modern sportsmen and women have been obsessively coached from a young age, usually with their parents watching from the sidelines. Strictly speaking, the child’s field of interest often would be the same as that of at least one of the parents. Facts from the past vindicate this point. Picasso’s father was a painter; Mozart’s father was a well-know musician and so on.
However, psychologists claim that there is no compulsion to this rule. There are children with extraordinary abilities in the fields completely different from those of the parents. Shakuntala Devi is famous for mathematics whose father was employed as a human cannon-ball in a circus company in Bangalore while her mother was a very shy homemaker. Besides two viewpoints, there are some people think that prodigies are “half born and half made”. In my opinion, I completely agree with this viewpoint. A prodigy firstly is bona fide talent.
Then, their abilities have to being discovered by their parents who play a vital role in identifying prodigies to guiding their brilliant children towards higher achievements. It is quite necessity that parents create an environment conducive to developing abilities of their children. No matter what the child’s field of interest, the parents ought to stimulate the child’s fascination for the subject. There is a thin line that demarcates stimulation or motivation and pressurizing. When parents expect too much of their children, then motivation might turn out to be stressful.
This is one point that parents have to be cautious. In addition, as the author said that prodigies should have a wonderful childhood because they are not only extraordinary talents but also “normal” children. The great difference between them is enormous abilities. Therefore, prodigies “still need time to be children”. Although having extraordinary abilities, prodigies may have some difficulties in our daily life. Because of their great intelligence so they can finish high school curriculum at early age.
However, the problem is colleges could not accept so young children in some cases. Moreover, prodigies may have trouble in making friends. To solve these problems, their parents should let their children take part in some clubs and government should have some policies to help prodigies develop their abilities. In conclusion, there is no exact answer for the age-old “nature vs. nurture” question. Parents should not cherish the hope that their children would be prodigies. It may lead to a bad result. In my point of view, it is not important whether the child is prodigy or not. The most important thing is the children live in parents’ love and study in a good education system to be a good person.
1, Andrew Marshall, “Small wonders”, Topics for today. Thomson Heinle. Pages 118, 120, 121, 122.
2, Michael Winerip, “Reading at 8 months? That was just the start”, Topics for today. Thomson Heinle. Pages 133, 134.
3, http://www. newworldencyclopedia. org/entry/Prodigy
4,Oliver James, Saturday 17 October 2009, “Family under the microscope”. http://www. guardian. co. uk/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/17/oliver-james-child-prodigies