Nature's Gambit: Child Prodigies and the Development of Human Potential

By David Henry F E Ldman; Lynn T. Goldsmith | Go to book overview

8
The Cultural Context

UP TO THIS POINT I have looked in some detail at processes of co-incidence in those areas closest to the child. I have considered the extreme talent that must exist if a prodigy is to perform at a very high level in a demanding field at an early age, and the importance of a field or domain that is itself sufficiently developed to engage the child's talents. Families and teachers, schools and organizations are all of vital importance in the process of prodigy making; these factors shape, direct, and organize the world around the child of promise. I have also looked at the prodigy as a social and emotional being.

The focus up to now has been narrow, on the world that directly affects the child prodigy. This is where we spent our time as observers, and this is where our curiosity has lead us. The idea of co-incidence, though, is intended to encompass broader forces as well. We must widen the focus to include these broader, more contextual conditions to get a picture of the full scope of the co-incidence process.

One way of approaching the broader forces is to do a thought experiment with Albert Einstein as the "subject." Consider what the effect on Einstein's work would have been if he had been born at a different point in history, in a different culture, or perhaps if he had been born a girl. Think about just how precise the fit had to be between the set of possibilities that was the biological Albert Einstein and the set of experiences and

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