Talent and Society: New Perspectives in the Identification of Talent

Talent and Society: New Perspectives in the Identification of Talent

Talent and Society: New Perspectives in the Identification of Talent

Talent and Society: New Perspectives in the Identification of Talent

Excerpt

In 1950 the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation, which has operated with conspicuous success a program for selecting and supporting medical scholars, developed a concern for understanding better how talented young people can be identified. Its executive secretary, John Russell, stated the question this way in his Annual Report for 1950. "From the Neolithic Age to the Atomic Age man has culled his young in search of superior offspring. . . . This generation, like every other, knows that the future of the world depends on encouraging the best. But who are the best? How can they be identified at an early age? How should one go about finding the best Scout in America, the best young scientist in our high schools, the best boy to go to college, the best son of a taxi-driver, the best daughter of an automobile plant employee, or the best all-around student for deferment from military service? How can we find our future leaders at an early age?"

The Foundation came to the Social Science Research Council to see what advice was available from experts in talent identification. In December, 1950, the Council called a conference of interested sociologists and psychologists to review progress in the field and to consider whether any steps might be taken to improve the study of talent identification. The group recommended strongly the need for basic research and theory. It felt that the practical assessment devices currently available had been developed to the point of diminishing returns, and that further major developments . . .

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