Friday, October 24, 2008

Of geniuses and prodigies

I watched this performance a few nights ago and was so moved by what I heard. 

Concert pianist and composer Jennifer Lin was only 14 when she performed at TED, drawing tears with her extraordinary improvisation. A student of the Yamaha Music Education System from the age of 4, she has an unusual talent for improvisation. Her virtuoso performances, particularly the improvisations, are profoundly moving, and -- even via podcast -- have been known to reduce listeners to tears.

Watching this podcast prompted me to think a lot about what we as parents should and must do to help our children develop their fullest potential.

I have always believed that every child is a genius and each comes to this world with a huge potential to be discovered, nurtured and developed into something great and wonderful. I also believe in Maria Montessori's theory of the sensitive periods or 'windows of opportunity', which partly explains how E and I nurture our boys. 

So for the few truly fortunate kids who get the right exposure, at the right time, their talents can be developed and geniuses and prodigies are born. 

A child at a tender age of 4 or 5 can only have a chance to develop her fullest potential if her parents are wise enough to recognise the possibility of that talent she has or at least kind and generous enough to give her an opportunity to pursue an interest which could take years to develop and show results.

Without parental support and nurturing,  a young child's talent and passion for any particular field may need to be shelved and with each passing year of age, that hidden talent may never ever resurfaced. So for the majority of us whose parents insisted on academic development over the pursuit of hobbies when we were growing up, or were simply too poor or busy to notice a child's passion in some areas, the hidden talents remain hidden.

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