I am talking to my sister who has an adorable five year old, and as first time parents are wont to be, she is amazed by her daughter's ability to write and read on her own. "I am not saying my kid is a genius or anything..." she rationalizes humbly, and then goes on to describe her concern over the educational system.
I get it. I do, none of us want to be an annoying braggy parent...but them I wondered...
what are the results like in a family where the parents think and act like their kid IS a genius compared to those who think and act like their child is NOT a genius?
How do the kids feel about themselves?
How do the interact with that child?
I would venture to say that the opportunities for the children would be different. The encouragement, the confidence, the willingness to take risks and think and act outside the box would shift.
For instance a child who is seen as a genius in music is encouraged to and given the space to obsessively play music all day, to think, breathe and eat while humming music. They are supported for hours a day to play music and in fact expected to do so, giving them the ability to hone their craft, become masterful in an area that they most likely would have been mediocre in without the support.
I am not an expert in geniuses, but from what I have seen, they are not expected to be as social, "well rounded" or responsive to commmunity activities. They are seen as "special" and treated thus...or as just a "little bit crazy" when they get older and are discounted as "normal". This gives them the benefit of constantly striving, playing,thinking and creating out side of "the box" and societies' expectations.
A child who is not seen as a genius in music is going to have the expectation to "balance" his or her life, do sports, school, friends and TV all in manageable chunks of time, scrunched together, but none "too much" as to not "overwhelm" the child.
A child who is not seen as a genius is often not allowed the free reign of being obsessively creative.
They might also not be expected to be obsessively creative...and as expectations lower so do the activities parents choose to present to their child. They may be lulling them into stupors in front of the TV instead of challenging them with building, programming or being creative.
My father says "Every child has a genius". EVERY CHILD. He was a teacher for 29 years. He saw it all. He taught gifted and talented and remedial. And every child, he insists, has a genius.
And for that matter that means every adult too. Yes you...
The quest, I say as a parent who endeavors to be inspired by my children, is to find that genius. To wonder, discover and explore the world for what lights up your children and yourself.
Dive, delve into and develope skills in an area that interests you no matter what. Your child too...as long as it is not harmful to anyone...who cares if what lights them up is the phases of the moon,trains or tap dancing?
Don't stop them!! Support their genius!
It does not matter if you don't see that it will make them money or get them into Stanford.
There is a guy,Ondrej Pakan, whose genius is to photograph insects just moments after it rains, with big beautiful water droplets on them. He makes a living doing that. That's genius.
There was an 18 yr old girl who discovered she loved playing pool on a blind date, played 8 hours a day and in 1 year placed 2nd in world champions ships and in 2 years placed first. That's genius.
Sugata Mitra, Ted Talk winner of one million dollars shares about how he put a computer in the projects of India and within moments they were learning. Within months they taught themselves materials 10 years beyond their grade level and scored the same average on a biology test that students in the UK with a biology teacher scored. That's group genius!
So what if your child is a genius?
How would you support them? What new actions would you take?
What if YOU are a genius?
What is now possible? How inspiring to imagine!