Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Notes: Cradles of Eminence

I read this book (not an affiliate link I just thought you might be curious) while we were in the U.S., so this post has been sitting in my draft folder for awhile. I declare this Book Note Week (I need to find a more catchy title) on my blog to motivate me to post a few more I have sitting around half done. I do these reviews just because I love to read and talk about books.

Favorite Quotes:

"As shown repeatedly in Cradles of Eminence, parental involvement is critical for bright students to reach their potential."

"The mothers in our audiences enjoy hearing about the troubles... then rebel against our recital of woeful facts and assume falsely that we advocate mistreatment of children as a way of stimulating creativity. ...we have no intention of becoming ogres at home on the off chance that one of our own three sons may become a playright or a novelist."

"It may be currently possible to be both creative and comfortable. We suspect it isn't, but our suspicions are not scientific data."

"Facing the hard fact that serenity and creativity have not been compatible in the homes that have cradled eminence is in itself a frustrating experience, but frustration is a necessary prelude to insight."

"...the kind of adjustment that the majority of the fifteen hundred gifted children studied by Terman made. They were competent to a degree far beyond the average person on the street; although they achieved highly, they did not make any original contributions. Even so, they were well-recognized in society."

"Louis Koren, Detroit psychiatrist, once observed that the chief need of children is to be enjoyed."

My Thoughts:

If you pick up this book looking for a recipe for raising eminent children, don't. As the quotes above imply, the authors found out that many of the most creative children were from very dysfunctional homes. The authors defined "eminence" as a certain number of biographies in their local library. Although a very interesting read, this book was mostly a collection of abridged biographies focusing on early childhood elements. I was hoping for more comparative insights, but I did find the connection between the discord or harmony at home and professions chosen by the children very interesting.

The book did bring up an excellent question, one that I am still pondering: Why do so many bright/promising/gifted children become experts in their fields, but do not produce groundbreaking or innovative work? The book discusses this question in the context of siblings, often they seemed equally capable but only one became "eminent."

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