We know them — the kids who read before they are potty trained, play classical piano before entering elementary school, or compute high school math in first grade. While the world shudders, in reality, most child prodigies rarely become influential change agents.
Why not? According to Adam Grant, in his New York Times article, How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off, what holds them back is that they don’t learn to be original. They strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers. But in their perfection, they don’t get the chance to innovate. In adulthood, these prodigies may become experts in their fields — but only a fraction of these gifted children become revolutionary adult creators.
Grant explains how the gifted may learn to play Mozart, but rarely compose their own original scores. They conform to codified rules, rather than inventing their own. Ironically, research shows that those who are bound for creativity are less likely to be embraced by their teacher — they have their own ideas.
In comparison, the most creative artists didn’t have elite teachers — their first lessons came from nearby instructors who made learning fun. Mozart showed interest in music before he took lessons, not the other way around.
Read Laurie Futterman’s entire article to find out what’s killing creativity.
About the featured image: Just like Mozart, Mary Lou Williams started playing the piano at the impressionable age of four. She became a professional musician at the age of eight. Learn more about Williams in The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend available at Amazon.