Salon just published an article about the “rage to master.”

The article starts out with a discussion of how the “rage to master” helps propel profoundly gifted children to do amazing things when they are young. After that the author, Tom Clynes, focuses more on the interrelationships of genetics and environment in developing expertise. He closes with a discussion of a specific aspect of the environment: The early exposure to a field and subsequent adult support that can help a gifted child achieve at high levels. As Clynes writes, “Formal schooling is just one piece of the prodigy puzzle, which also includes parenting, personal characteristics, social/ emotional development, family aspects (such as birth order, gender, and traditions), access to resources, and historical forces and trends. When all those things happen to be in coordination and are sustained for a sufficient period, a child born with extraordinary potential can bloom. When one or more elements are missing, inborn talent is more likely to wither.”  Interestingly, “rage to master” isn’t listed as one of the puzzle pieces, although it may be subsumed in the category “personal characteristics.”

From my viewpoint, the “rage to master” seems like another way of talking about the kind of extremely intense interest that is the focus of this blog. I’m a bit frustrated that the rest of the article shifted away from the “rage to master” theme. However, that does fit a pattern I’ve seen in the literature: Extreme interests intertwine with many other aspects of life, and it can be hard to focus on extremely intense interest as a separate quality. I would also note that extreme interest in children is, to some degree, independent of intelligence, although maintaining intense interests may be dependent on adult support (or at least lack of adult interference and distraction). I’m interested in the roles that intense interest can play in the lives of all children, not those with high intelligence or other gifts.

Here’s the link to the Salon article:

The article is an excerpt from a book by Clynes, “THE BOY WHO PLAYED WITH FUSION: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star”  I’ve already placed an order for this book.

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