By Andrew Marshall
Small Wonders by Andrew Marshall is an intriguing article that searches for answers to this fascinating question “Are child prodigies born or made?”
To begin with, the author strictly defines prodigy as a child who by age 10 displays a mastery of a field. Initially, I had no doubt about this definition; however, after reading some online information, I got to know that although there was growing consensus with the author’s definition, it would be going too far to say that such a consensus exists without controversy. There may, for example, be some wisdom in the view of Radford (1990), who has argued that there are so many ...view middle of the document...
In his article, Judith Judd also states an expert’s idea that there are significant numbers of teacher who do not recognize the signs of giftedness, which badly affects the children’s feelings: alienated, bored, upset, and regress. Another factor that has great influence on the development of prodigious children is family. The University of Chicago studied the development of 100 super achievers (research mathematicians, musicians, swimmers and tennis players) and discovered that their careers displayed a strong parent and teacher influence, proving that the gifted are nurtured, as well as born. Most of them were strongly encouraged to pursue their career by a member of the family, or an exceptionally dedicated teacher who had the ability to differentiate the ordinary from the extraordinary. Some were motivated by their own decision and their family to take on hours of learning and training with an expert. Briefly, I really suppose that the neglectful society and family are the two biggest obstacles that prevent prodigical children from being discovered and developed.
After the definition of a prodigy, the author gives an example of the most celebrated young pianist in Singarpore. The he introduces a new research about the operation mechanism of the prodigy’s brain. I read this passage with great interest because of its informative neuroscientific evidence. It comes out that compared with average kids, children with aptitude for numbers show six to seven times more metabolic activity in the right side of the brains, an area known to mediate pattern recognition and spatial awareness – key abilities for math and music. I am quite astounded to get to know that as I normally suppose that math and music are separately opposite things. It is my conviction that left – brained people often excel in maths, while right – brained people are sensitive to music. This conviction also derives from my real life that both of my elder sister and my brother – in – law are very good at maths, but terribly bad at memorizing the melody and the lyric of a song. My case is the opposite! I can learn melody and lyric of a song very quickly, but I must be very hard to understand a mathematic problem. Hence, to my surprise, it comes out that maths and music are very closely related together.
On the process of searching information, I know that a number of musical sounds and features are all based on maths, including pitch and scales. There is also a very rigid set of numbers and mathematics that are used in music. For example, there are always eight notes in an octave. Often people who have a natural aptitude for music have an ability to perform math easily. After all, most children like music but complain about maths are fairly common! I am not the exception! The advice is fractions and integers can be more easily digested by children if they first learn about intervals and beats in music. However, with prodigious children, they have no need to do that as...