humani nil a me alienum puto

random rants about news, the law, healthcare law, economics and anything I find amusing

Genius is Hard Work?

Freakonomics interviews David Shenk about his new book.  Mr. Shenk had some notable observations about genius and the work behind it.

[E]verything about talent is a process. There’s the genetic piece, and then there’s the ability piece. When you look very closely at [Michael] Jordan’s life, you see a rather ordinary teenage athlete with no particularly grand ambition until about mid-way through high school…After the deep disappointment of not making the varsity team, Jordan developed an unparalleled ambition that quite simply dwarfed that of his schoolmates in high school and later his teammates at the University of North Carolina. Jordan’s abilities developed according to what he demanded of himself.

The same is true of other super-achievers. From a distance, it looks like they’ve got something almost super-human about them. But when you look up close, at the moment-to-moment lives they lead, the sacrifices they make, the extraordinary resources they have around them, their abilities actually do make logical sense. If it’s documented closely enough, you can actually see how they went from mediocre to good, from good to great, from great to extraordinary.

He also gives some advice to parents that seem well put.  Persistence is more important than prodigy.  In fact, prodigy can box in young technical achievers into a comfort zone from which they will fear to emerge.  He says:

Show your kids how hard you work, how often you experience disappointments and how you respond to those disappointments. If you blame others for your failures or simply give up, that’s what your kids will learn. If you take on a long-term challenge, show a deep commitment to the process and a refusal to give up in the face of adversity, your kids will pick that up instead.

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Facebook And Kids: Are Their Brains Ready for Social Networking?

Kari Henley in the March 22, 2009 Huffington Post writes:

For over 25 million youth, Facebook is replacing email as “the” way to communicate, and parents are often left in the dust and wondering is it safe? What age can kids safely have a Facebook page? Should they insist to be their “Friend” and monitor their endless chatter? *** One day, a call came from the principal informing Jill and her husband, their middle daughter was being given in-school suspension for creating a Facebook group used to make fun of another student. Called something like, “Eric is a Hairy Beast,” the group quickly filled with loads of kids making fun of a quiet Armenian boy, uploading cell phone pictures of him and becoming more brazen by the day.  These kids are “A” students, and far from brats; but most are not cognitively developed enough to recognize their behavior is hurtful to others.  *** Kids get into trouble with sites like Facebook and MySpace because they are too self-centered in their overall development to understand the impact of what they are doing… Middle school age children are the most susceptible to cyber bullying, and high school students most likely to use poor judgment in giving out information.  *** I set about interviewing scores of parents with children from elementary to high school, asking their opinions about Facebook and kids. While most felt it was a relatively safe place for kids to connect to each other, many expressed concern over the obsessive nature of these sites.  Designed to be “sticky;” a site is deemed successful the longer it entices you to stay on, yet these hours are replacing other activities critical for healthy development. *** The cyber playground has replaced the physical one, for better or worse. It is our job as parents to make sure their developing brains know how to do more than move a mouse around a keyboard and encourage more face to face social time.

via Kari Henley: Facebook And Kids: Are Their Brains Ready for Social Networking?.

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