Out of the Usual
Course of Nature
THIS BOOK is about six unusual children. It is about a child who read music before he was four, two children who played winning chess before they entered school, another who studied abstract algebra in grade school, a youngster who produced typed scripts of original stories and plays before his fifth birthday, and a child who read, wrote, began learning foreign languages, and composed short musical pieces before he was out of diapers.
I set out to find a group of such children in 1975. I wanted them as subjects for a straightforward psychological experiment I had designed to refute a rather esoteric point in cognitive developmental psychology. I knew even at the time, although perhaps not consciously, that my interest in prodigies exceeded the obscure academic issue motivating me to seek out a group of prodigies. When I began this study I was not a stranger to children with exceptional abilities. I have studied creativity for more than twenty years, and although prodigious achievements and creative ones are not directly related, there is nonetheless at least an intuitive connection between the two. Thus it came as no surprise when I found myself drawn to those complexities of the phenomenon of early prodigious achievement