Choosing Teachers and
ONE of the myths about prodigies is that their talents are so overwhelming that they will be fulfilled regardless of what happens in their environment. My experience with prodigies makes it clear that precisely the opposite is true. The more powerful and specific the gift, the more the need for active, sustained, specialized intervention from those who are responsible for the child's development. The children I know with prodigious talents often have a remarkable sense of "inner confidence," which seems to reflect an internal awareness of the presence of a gift and the expectation that it will continue to flourish. Yet, while the children themselves display a kind of noblesse oblige with respect to their abilities, this quality in no way reduces the reality of their need for massive educational support from parents, mentors, and teachers.
For virtually all fields in which prodigies perform, the most critical source of knowledge and skill is teachers. Whatever degree of confidence the child has—indeed, whatever degree of talent—it will come to fruition only under the guidance of teachers who are themselves greatly gifted in the ability to catalyze potential into durable achievement. It is rare that a single teacher can direct the entire course of development of a prodigious