Well before having children, Laszlo Polgar wrote Bring Up Genius! where he explained “Genius equals work and fortunate circumstances” and “Geniuses are made, not born”. Laszlo went on to prove his theory by raising three exceptional female chess players - Susan Polgar achieved the. (This is a "Pareto translation" of Bring up Genius by László Polgár, the book recently mentioned at Slate Star Codex. This is my book written in about 15 years of pedagogic experiment with my daughters. The Polgár sisters (Susan, Sofia, Judit) are internationally as famous as. From what I've heard, that book is more about the struggles he had with the chess federation than about how to raise a genius. Would you raise your children like Laszlo Polgar did? What do you think is the overall message of the book Bring Up Genius?.
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Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? I did not plan to bring up my child as a genius but received the book as a gift for the birth of my . A channel for parents who want to bring up a genius child. The Education of Karl Witte | Bring Up Genius | Animated Book reviews - Duration: 4 minutes. Bringing Up Genius The Chronicle of Higher Education . Epstein's book The Sports Gene and elsewhere — of researchers arguing that.
Gifted children prefer games that require mental activity. There is a continuum between learning and playing just like between work and hobby for adults. Brains, just like muscles, becomes stronger by everyday activity. My daughters used intense methods to learn languages; and chess; and table tennis. Is there a risk of damaging their personality by doing so? Maybe, but I believe the risks of damaging the personality by spending six childhood years without any effort are actually greater.
When my daughters were 15, 9, 8 years old, we participated in a hour chess tournament, where you had to play games in 24 hours. Most participants were between age 25 and Susan won. The success rates during the second half of the tournament were similar to those during the first half of the tournament, for all three girls, which shows that children are capable of staying focused for long periods of time.
But this was an exceptional load. Genius - a gift or a curse? I am not saying that we should bring up each child as a genius; only that bringing up children as geniuses is possible. I oppose uniform education, even a hypothetical one that would use my methods. Public ideas of geniuses is usually one of two extremes. Either they are all supposed to be weird and half-insane; or they are all supposed to be CEOs and movie stars.
Psychology has already moved beyond this. They examined Einstein's brain, but found no difference in weight or volume compared with an average person. For me, genius is an average person who has achieved their full potential.
Many famous geniuses attribute their success to hard work, discipline, attention, love of work, patience, time. All healthy newborns are potential geniuses, but whether they become actual geniuses, depends on their environment, education, and their own effort. For example, in the 20th century more people became geniuses than in the 19th or 18th century, inter alia because of social changes. Geniuses need to be liberated. Hopefully in the future, more people will be free and fully developed, so being a genius will become a norm, not an exception.
But for now, there are only a few people like that. As people grow up, they lose the potential to become geniuses. Afterwards it drops to a fraction of percent. A genius child can surpass their peers by 5 or 7 years. And if a "miracle child" doesn't become a "miracle adult", I am convinced that their environment did not allow them to.
People say some children are faster and some are slower; I say they don't grow up in the same conditions. Good conditions allow one to progress faster. But some philosophers or writers became geniuses at old age. People find it difficult to accept those who differ from the average. Even some scientists; for example Einstein's theory of relativity was opposed by many. My daughters are attacked not just by public opinion, but also by fellow chess players. Some geniuses are unhappy about their situation.
But many enjoy the creativity, perceived beauty, and success. Geniuses can harm themselves by having unrealistic expectations of their goals. But most of the harm comes from outside, as a dismissal of their work, or lack of material and moral support, baseless criticism. Nowadays, one demagogue can use the mass communication media to poison the whole population with rage against the representatives of national culture. As the international communication and exchange of ideas grows, geniuses become more important than ever before.
Education is necessary to overcome economical problems; new inventions create new jobs.
But a genius provokes the anger of people, not by his behavior, but by his skills. Should every child become a celebrity? I believe in diversity in education. I am not criticizing teachers for not doing things my way. There are many other attempts to improve education.
But I think it is now possible to aim even higher, to bring up geniuses. Multiple families could cooperate and share their skills. Homeschooling, or private education with parental oversight, are the ancient methods for bringing up geniuses.
Families should get more involved in education; you can't simply outsource everything to a school. We should support families willing to take an active role.
Education works better in a loving environment. Instead of trying to a find a talent, develop one. Start specializing early, at the age of 3 or 4. One cannot become an expert on everything. My daughters played chess 5 or 6 hours a day since their age of 4 or 5. Similarly, if you want ot become a musician, spend 5 or 6 hours a day doing music; if a physicist, do physics; if a linguist, do languages.
With such intense instruction, the child will soon feel the knowledge, experience success, and soon becomes able to use this knowledge independently. For example, after learning Esperanto 5 or 6 hours a day for a few months, the child can start corresponding with children from other countries, participate at international meet-ups, and experience the conversations in a foreign language.
Why there’s no such thing as a gifted child
That is at the same time pleasant, useful for the child, and useful for the society. The next year, start with English, then German, etc.
Now the child enjoys this, because it obviously makes sense. Unlike at school, where most learning feels purposeless. In chess, the first year makes you an average player, three years a great player, six years a master, fifteen years a grandmaster. When a years old child surpasses an average adult at some skill, it is highly motivating.
Gifted children need financial support, to cover the costs of books, education, and travel. Some people express concern that early specialization may lead to ignorance of everything else. But it's the other way round; abilities formed in one area can transfer to other areas. One learns how to learn. Also, the specialization is relative.
If you want to become e. My daughters, in addition to being chess geniuses, speak many foreign languages, travel, do sports, write books, etc. Having deep knowledge about something doesn't imply ignorance about everything else. On the other hand, a misguided attempt to become an universalist can result in knowing nothing, in mere pretend-knowledge of everything. Emotional and moral education must do together with the early specialization, to develop a complex personality.
We wanted our children to be enthusiastic, courageous, persistent, to be objective judges of things and people, to resist failure and avoid temptations of success, to handle frustration and tolerate criticism even when it is wrong, to make plans, to manage their emotions.
Also, to love and respect people, and to prefer creative work to physical pleasure or status symbols. We told them that they can achieve greatness, but that there can be only one world champion, so their goal should rather be to become good chess players, be good at sport, and be honest people. Pedagogy puts great emphasis on being with children of the same age.
I think that mental peers are more important than age peers. It would harm a gifted child to be forced to spend most of their time exclusively among children of the same age. On the other hand, spending most of the time with adults brings the risk that the child will learn to rely on them all the time, losing independence and initiative. You need to find a balance.
I believe the best company would be of similar intellectual level, similar hobbies, and good relations. For example, if Susan at 13 years old would be forced to play chess exclusively with 13 years old children, it would harm both sides.
She could not learn anything from them; they would resent losing constantly. Originally, I hoped I could bring up each daughter as a genius in a different field e. It would be a more convincing evidence that you can bring up a genius of any kind.
And I believe I would have succeeded, but I was constrained by money and time. We would need three private teachers, would have to go each day to three different places, would have to download books for maths and chess and music and the music instruments. By making them one team, things became easier, and the family has more things in common. Some psychologists worried that children could be jealous of each other, and hate each other. But we brought them up properly, and this did not happen.
Would I like to teach at such school? In theory yes, but in practice I am already burned out from the endless debates with authorities, the press, opinionated pedagogues and psychologists. I am really tired of that. The teachers in such school need to be protected from all this, so they can fully focus on their work.
Esperanto: the first step in learning foreign languages Our whole family speaks Esperanto. It is a part of our moral system, a tool for equality of people. There are many prejudices against it, but the same was true about all progressive ideas. Some people argue by Bible that multiple languages are God's punishment we have to endure. Some people invested many resources into learning 2 or 3 or 4 foreign languages, and don't want to lose the gained position.
Economically strong nations enforce their own languages as part of dominance, and the speakers of other languages are discriminated against. Using Esperanto as everyone's second language would make the international communication more easy and egalitarian. But considering today's economical pressures, it makes sense to learn English or Russian or Chinese next. Esperanto has a regular grammar with simple syntax.
It also uses many Latin, Germanic, and Slavic roots, so as a European, even if you are not familiar with the language, you will probably recognize many words in a text.
This is an advantage from pedagogical point of view: you can more easily learn its vocabulary and its grammar; you can learn the whole language about 10 times easier than other languages. It makes a great example of the concept of a foreign language, which pays off when learning other languages later. It is known that having learned one foreign language makes learning another foreign language easier.
Also, Esperanto would be a great first experience for students who have difficulty learning languages; they would achieve success faster. Chess 3. Why chess? Originally, we were deciding between mathematics, chess, and foreign languages. Finally we chose chess, because the results in that area are easy to measure, using a traditional and objective system, which makes it easier to prove whether the experiment succeeded or failed. Which was a lucky choice in hindsight, because back then we had no idea how many obstacles we will have to face.
If we wouldn't be able to prove our results unambiguously, the attacks against us would have been much stronger. Chess seemed sufficiently complex it is a game, a science, an art, and a sport at the same time , so the risks of overspecialization were smaller; even if children would later decide they are tired of chess, they would keep some transferable skills.
And the fact that our children were girls was a bonus: we were able to also prove that girls can be as intellectually able as boys; but for this purpose we needed an indisputable proof.
Although, people try to discount this proof anyway, saying things like: "Well, chess is simple, but try doing the same in languages, mathematics, or music! If you have a favorite hypothesis, for example a favorite opening, but you keep losing, you have to change your mind.
There is an aesthetic dimension in chess; some games are published and enjoyed not just because of their impressive logic, but because they are beautiful in some sense, they do something unexpected.
And — most people are not familiar with this — chess requires great physical health. All the best chess players do some sport, and it is not a coincidence. Also it is organized similarly to sports: it has tournaments, players, spectators; you have to deal with the pain of losing, you have to play fair, etc. I don't have a "one weird trick" to teach children chess; it's just my general pedagogical approach, applied to chess. Teach the chess with love, playfully.
Don't push it too forcefully. Remember to let the child win most of the time. Explain to the child that things can be learned, and that this also applies to chess.
Don't worry if the child keeps jumping during the game; it could be still thinking about the game. Don't explain everything; provide the child an opportunity to discover some things independently. Don't criticize failure, praise success.
Start with shorter lessons, only 30 minutes and then have a break. Start by solving simple problems. Let the child play against equally skilled opponents often. For a child, it is better to play many quick games e. Participate in tournaments appropriate for the child's current skill. We have a large library of different games. They are indexed by strategy, and by names of players.
So the girls can research their opponent's play before the tournament. When a child loses the tournament, don't criticize them; the child is already sad.
Offer support; help them analyze the mistakes. When my girls write articles about chess, it makes them think deeply about the issue. All three parts of the game — opening, middle game, ending — require same amount of focus. Some people focus too much on the endings, and neglect the rest. But at tournament, a bad opening can ruin the whole game. Susan had the most difficult situation of the three daughters.
In hindsight, having her learn 7 or 8 foreign languages was probably too much; some of that time would be better spent further improving her chess skills. As the oldest one, she also faced the worst criticism from haters; as a consequence she became the most defensive player of them. The two younger sister had the advantage that they could oppose the same pressures together. But still, I am sure that without those pressures, they also could have progressed even faster.
Politicians influenced the decisions of the Hungarian Chess Association; as a result my daughters were often forbidden from participation at international youth competitions, despite being the best national players. They wanted to prevent Susan from becoming the worldwide 1 female chess player. Once they even "donated" points to her competitor, to keep Susan at the 2nd place. Later they didn't allow her to participate in the international male tournaments, although her results in the Hungarian male tournaments qualified her for that.
The government regularly refused to issue passports to us, claiming that "our foreign travels hurt the public order". Also, it was difficult to find a trainer for my daughters, despite them being at the top of world rankings. Only recently we received a foreign help; a patron from Netherlands offered to pay trainers and sparring partners for my daughters, and also bought Susan a personal computer. A German journalist gave us a program and a database, and taught children how to use it.
The Hungarian press kept attacking us, published fake facts. We filed a few lawsuits, and won them all, but it just distracted us from our work. The foreign press — whether writing from the chess, psychological, or pedagogical perspectives — was fair to us; they wrote almost 40 articles about us, so finally even the Hungarian chess players, psychologists and pedagogues could learn about us from them.
At the beginning, I was a father, a trainer, and a manager to my daughters. But I am completely underqualified to be their trainer these days, so I just manage their trainers.
Until recently no one believed women could play chess on level comparable with men. Now the three girls together have about 40 Guiness records; they repeatedly outperformed their former records.
In a interview Karpov said: "Susan is extraordinarily strong, but Judit How can we make our children like chess? Some tips for teaching chess to 4 or 5 years old children. First, I made a blank square divided into 8x8 little squares, with named rows and columns. I named a square, my daughter had to find it; then she named a square and I had to find it.
Then we used the black-and-white version, and we were guessing the color of the named square without looking. Then we introduced kings, in a "king vs king" combat; the task was to reach the opposing row of the board with your king. Then we added a pawn; the goal remained to reach the opposing row. After a month of playing, we introduced the queen, and the concept of checkmate. Later we gradually added the remaining pieces knights were the most difficult.
Then we solved about thousand "checkmate in one move" puzzles. Then two moves, three moves, four moves. That took another 3 or 4 months. And only afterwards we started really playing against each other. We have been spending less time on memory games because he would rather be doing other types of learning which now is mostly computer programming and math.
I have not taught him the memory palace approach. He is doing exceptionally well at school and in September although he will be only 12 he will be taking AP calculus BC and probably AP computer science for which he took a placement test today. I taught poetry to my younger brother starting at two. If you are really interested in attempting this then you need to choose something you already enjoy.
Are you really going to instill a deep love of something in your children when you only have a passing interest?
Even if you are just the secondary partner in this ie you work and your spouse is a stay at home you will be spending hundreds of hours a year with you child on this subject. Music is mentioned a lot here, but mostly as a performer learn an instrument.
What about music production? Playing around with a DAW is pretty fun. You could make a feedback cycle by having your kid make a track periodically and then you review it. The ones that do usually get a career out of it.
Competitive video games are also an option. Most current professionals started playing their game at 12—15 years old. Having 10 years on the competition is pretty sure to give your kid a leg up.
Of course, you might not want to expose your kid to something like CS: GO at 3 years old. The biggest problem is finding a game that will still be around in 15 years. Sofia is not a grandmaster, afaik. So two grandmasters and an international master. Or, alternatively: Two grandmasters and a woman grandmaster, which however is weaker than an international master. Is it odd for them to not still be playing?
According to Wikipedia they moved into coaching. Kasparov retired before he was Judit, the strongest sister, retired at age They just… got old. Retiring before you are 40 is definitely not terribly common. Of course many tone it down a lot, but these guys just love chess. Thanks to the magic of affirmative action, she is officially a Woman Grandmaster.
Seems a little odd in chess where any advantage men has is not obviously visible, but it fits that pattern better than affirmative action. Women can also be regular grandmasters, as indeed her two sisters are. No private or public school in my pop-1m city would come close to that. This rules out D is less marketable than a child chess prodigy.
For reasons more logistical than philosophical, I was given a textbook and free rein in math for 1. And this is why I always think motivation and interest is so important. But if you take a child not intrinsically interested in tennis and stick him a tennis-obsessed household, they will probably end up rolling their eyes about tennis at best, deeply resentful of their pushy parents at worst.
Or perhaps, like Andre Agassi among others, incredibly good at tennis but psychologically messed up and deeply resentful about it. I thought you were referring to Tony Cicoria who was struck by lightning and supposedly developed a talent for playing the piano. Anyways as someone who listens to a lot of piano music and plays it myself though not professional level I would say that they are good but not great. Compulsion is part of talent certainly, but it is not all of talent.
Some people really do learn more quickly, develop better intuitions, show more creativity etc. Unfortunately also correlated with disinhibitory behaviors like overeating and hypersexuality, which confused me.
The better to obscure their academic failures from observers! Screw raising a genius. I want my future kid to be able to get by in the world, and to not hate themselves deep into their 20s. I appreciate that you can separate your experiences from homeschooling-at-large. Homeschooling is the province of weirdos. It can make one defensive.
I second rminnema. I think your homeschooling experience is worth telling, to the extent you are interested in doing that. I get that homeschooling is already often viewed as something undertaken by a bunch of crazies, so that would be fueled by stories of people homeschooled by parents who have untreated mental illness. Though I feel like I could have some opinions about that now. A lot of journalists have investigated and it seems true. My parents gave me books to read, and I enjoyed it and quite thoroughly benefited from high literacy later.
But it sounds as though someone like your father could stretch even something as banal as that into motivation-for-abuse. Daring to have reservations is not anywhere close to that road. And she bent over backwards to put off exactly that aggressive misinterpretation by explicitly disavowing it.
Have some respect. Polgar seems like a guy who can make learning fun. Someone trying to implement this without this skill could make for a hellish childhood. Andre Agassi famously hated his tennis obsessed childhood, while Monica Seles loved hers. I havent seen any mention of the story of The Shaggs here.
They were a family of young girls pulled out of mainstream schools to practice music every day because their father was convinced they would become a famous pop band. Obsessive practice on its own is definitely not enough to achieve anything. For one thing the father had no musical training or talent of his own, so had to hire music teachers. The girls never seem to have become engaged with the process, always understanding themselves to be mediocre musicians. I guess that banning grades would finally make schools the perfect babysitting institutions with no downside.
On the other hand, I would love to see exams decoupled from teaching; preferably done by a different institution. Because then, no matter how specifically the children were educated, they would be graded the same way which also means we could compare the efficiency of different types of education; perhaps if we control for IQ and some other things.
But even in absence of this, whoever believes they are raising geniuses, can send them to various competitions. For example, if my kids will do well at math, I will definitely tell them to do math olympiad. You have an experience of being abused by homeschooling. I know people who were abused by the school system actually I was also bullied for a few months. In theory, at school there are more people who can intervene.
Because then, no matter how specifically the children were educated, they would be graded the same way. A lot of parents in the 20th Century home-schooled their children with some kind of goal of doing education better, academically, than the school system. One guy ended up with three internationally-accomplished chess players.
A million other people did not. What is our basis for believing that this was anything other than chance and survivorship bias? Polgar should probably be compared not with the average homeschooling parent but with the average homeschooling parent of a genius. He probably did better than chance because he raised three geniuses, not just one. Humans are notoriously bad at this. They see random noise and create signal out of it.
Where is the rigorous attempt to overcome bias here? At that point, this family is a one-in-a-million outlier. There were thousands of one-in-a-million outlier families over the course of the 20th Century. The reason you have this book and not one of the several thousand other books from one-in-a-million outlier families is that only 0.
So a called shot is more impressive than an uncalled one, and three called shots even more so. Which you clearly would not have.
Chess, as it turns out, is a game that responds extremely well to very early childhood training. Polgar and his wife had some kind of genetic combination which led to impressive chess performance per se with decently high probability. Polgar just happened to have three very smart daughters who would have excelled regardless of their educational regime. All of these stories are clearly far more plausible than the idea that Polgar is a Solar Exalt with a Training Charm read: All you have to do is be a little less impressed that he was trying to do something like this.
Polgar lived in a time and place replete with people making educational experiments. The human species is enormously big. This is just survivorship bias. Are you aware that there have only been about 40 female grandmasters ever? Do you have any idea how often siblings both achieve the grandmaster title? These skills include language most anyone can learn 4 languages if you start early enough , music performance the story of most child prodigies was having a Tiger mother or father , chess, and I suspect programming will become one as well.
But those are just a guess. I think programming will not. Err, sorry, miscounted my exponents. Our attention gets drawn to highly unusual families, and then we go and look for what makes them highly unusual. Or whatever. Like, the worst of all worlds for Polgar is that his method kinda sorta works for chess in particular, but his daughters were like 1: At that point his family is only 1: He raised three very high performing female Chess players.
If their performance at Chess was simply an epiphenomena of their incredible intelligence that would be one thing, but their bios are devoid of any significant achievements unrelated to Chess. Great competitors are made, not just born — but everyone already knew that was true to some extent, great competitors are shaped by their trainers and their training regime.
Getting lucky three times is not impossible. But we can put a reasonable upper bound by assuming that anyone who is going to develop and test a Super Genius Baby Recipe on their own kids is going to have to A: Applying statistics from here and here , with a bit of supplemental data from around the web, I estimate that about 30, households with at least one Ph. That, I think, is a conservative upper bound for the number of people who have attempted to privately implement Super Genius Baby Recipes any place we would expect to have heard of at least the successes.
Judit is pretty much off the charts, top 0. Crudely speaking, the odds of getting results equal to the Polgar sisters by chance are one in trillion. And Laszlo is the one who called his shots ahead of time. You think that 1 in FIDE-rated players were trained multiple hours a day every day since literally before they could remember?
That seems high to me. There are half a million FIDE-rated players. Several hours per day since they decided chess was their thing, probably some time well before adulthood, seems likely to me. That it has to begin literally before one can remember is part of the Polgar recipe being tested. Only a part, and not every proposed recipe for genius includes that element. Best of the sisters is top. I think you might be massively overestimating the number of people who put full time hours into Chess.
Worth paying attention to, I would agree. If Quora is right, there are between and people whose job is chess. This is, to the first order, a body of people whom we can reasonably expect to have made themselves as good at playing chess as they can by the usual methods, and so compare any particular unusual method that might be proposed. In that sense it is fortunate that the Polgars chose chess rather than e. Mmmm, this is wiggly-woggly stuff.
A few hundred is probably stretching it. There are lots of people who throw themselves into some competitive thing and do crazy hours for a little while. Many many people can do it for a little while, maybe even a year or two, that kind of thing.
Very very very few can just have that be their thing unmolested. At any age. A lot of homeschoolers actually are brilliant though. Either just high achieving or unusually creative or boundary-breaking.
I think we should be more precise about what we want to improve in our educational system. As you alluded to in the end, there are a bunch of private schools out there who are doing good things. This is all going to come off as arrogant on my part, so sorry in advance. I am fascinated by education, but am no expert, have raised no kids, much less prodigies, and am probably a little naive because education worked out really well for me. I will avoid saying things generally, and but I can tell you about where I went to high school.
I went to the same high school and can tell you that even beyond the crazy outliers I just mentioned, there are a lot of alums who have done very well for themselves but you've never heard of. The students there all had a huge leg up on life through family money and connections, but the results are still exceptional.
It cost a lot of money, which makes is really hard to normalize the results for social status. Of note is that a huge percentage of the students were on financial aid while I was there, which solves some of the problem of wealth, but there's still a big selection bias.
It's also worth noting that a fair number of these kids came to the school in 7th grade from very average public schools I did. I won't go into what exactly the education was like there, but I will say that the school was US grades and it was definitely a liberal arts education. It was definitely a very broad education, but there were outlets for students to specialize to a limited extent. My big takeaway from my admittedly extremely statistically small experience was that it isn't a complete mystery as to how you should educate the students who excel in primary school.
It seems like we have found some pretty good secondary education methods for the kids that primary education has shown us are exceptional. Separately, if your goal is to place your child in the highest echelon of an established sport where an exorbitant amount of attention has been focused and the rules have been established for a long time be that a thinking sport such as chess or go, or a physical sport such as basketball , they you're probably going to need to focus on that exclusively from a very early age, have some really good genes yourself, and get a little lucky in the genetic lottery.
I would suggest that you are probably setting too narrow a goal for your child. Humorously, Polgar's education system is self defeating if we taught every child intensive chess or even a mix of different similar games. What are we going to do with all the excess chess players? While chess might be more applicable to other pursuit than baseball, there's a fair amount of evidence that the skills aren't all that transferable.
To his credit, training kids to become self teachers and love learning, if not exactly a breakthrough, strikes me a really important advice. To the extent that the question we are really trying to answer is "how do we form primary education in a way that more students are ready for the secondary educations that have demonstrated effectiveness?
I am much more interested to hear from someone who's three kids went on to be great engineers, entrepreneurs, or even salespeople. It seems like there is probably more to be gained on a wider scale by improving those professions than improving our understanding of chess. When you first talked about Laszlo Polgar on here, I assumed he was long gone.
However, I now realize that he is still alive, which suggest a pretty obvious to gain more information about his educational theories and methods: Common sense: Of course they will! The pro chess system gives them an objective way to see their improvement and a lot of motivation money, fame, praise to keep improving.
What if he had tried to make them into, say, the ultimate surgeon instead? That would be much more useful for society than a chess grandmaster. Our middle school biology teacher got us animal hearts cow, if I recall correctly from the local butchery that we proceeded to cut into pieces in a particularly memorable biology class. Also some smaller dead animals I think they were some small birds?
However, surprisingly few of the students were disgusted compared to ones who were fascinated. I thought these kind of demos are relatively common. Boring, regular municipal school in Finland, late 00s. Most American biology classes do that too. I guess you could learn some basic surgery skills that way. But I still think making the jump to practicing on a living human would be quite tough.
If you wanted to build up the motor skills of a surgeon, cutting up insects is a cheap pastime which a lot of kids enjoy doing anyway but still takes very fine manipulations to do properly. You can make a dissection plate and pins yourself, the tweezers and micro-scissors are relatively cheap, and the dissection scope can get more use as they get older and graduate to rodents. Probably it would be better to have specialists for many other kinds of surgeries.
There are objective rankings for surgeries: If you do of the same surgery each year, these numbers are statistically meaningful. On the other hand, ER surgeons have to be generalists. Gawande has another essay about how the C-section is popular because it can be taught to generalists, even though specialists can do a better job with other methods. My immediate thought would be to start with stuffed animals and dinner meats. Prepping for an operation could be a dinner activity; you can use condiments as stand-ins for… surgery things… and get the kid to memorize the names and process order.
You could get anatomy pictures and use them as mazes. They could have clear goals to make incisions of exact lengths and depths in certain timeframes.
When I was homeschooled we dissected fish eyeballs and chicken giblets. That stuff is readily available at the store. For the more advanced, you can order preserved fetal pigs.
But I suppose you could hurry things along a bit. Suppose you start in school at the regular age, grade 1 at age 6. You do really well and are allowed to skip two grades, meaning you start college at age 16 rather than the usual Between AP credits and summer school, you finish your undergraduate studies in two years and start med school at The shortest surgical residencies take five years, so you could be a fully trained surgeon at It seems to me, just from reading these snippets, that Polgar is primarily interested in rigging that lottery.
Do you know how hard it is to let a toddler beat you at anything nine times in a row? No grinding through the chess equivalent of multiplication tables for the Polgar sisters. Now the child wants to excel and grow because on some level it serves her social standing to do so, not just in the eyes of her parents, but also she seeks the esteem of her professional peers.
I mean, trust me, I tried to find one. He specifically rejects ever letting the student win. Thus he rejects starting with competition too soon, instead builds puzzles out of chess, such as endgames. Which are? When you put it that way, maybe doing nothing is an improvement. Have you considered unschooling?
I will need to read the full book to clarify this fully for myself, I suppose. My kids are in a Montessori charter school. Instead, provide yourself a very short time limit, or deliberately make a mistake, so the child can learn to notice them.
Montessori is big on a lot of this stuff. There are like three Montessori schools and one hybrid Montessori school in our small town. Other areas may be different. What if everything you knew about education is wrong. Progressively Worse.
How to bring out the genius in your child
If people here were interested in trying this method with their own current or future children, what would be their curriculum choices?
I would teach my children reading at an early age, and show them the things I like most, which for me would be music and mathematics.
I mean, Polgar more or less suggests spending a lot of quality time with your kids teaching them things in a way that raises their interest. At least they should have been made more aware of their privilege and should have had to publicly denounce it. This attitude seems especially prevalent in pedagogical circles. We should focus our effort on the disadvantaged and struggling.
I taught my kid to read in an hour a day, we sort of did some math here and there, and for other subjects we watched videos or played games. But no way could I have gotten his six-year-old self to cooperate in activities organized by me for nine hours a day. Much less when he was three years old. When does he learn to write a good essay or do algebra?
These might not be super-important skills if he wound up being a chess genius, but you can only be a chess genius for a living if you make it into the very top, I would imagine.
But if you lose the gamble, what other skills does he have? Can he go to college? That said. Or sometimes you use one interest as a tie-in to another interest, like Minecraft math or something. My husband has played with him a few times and always beats him easily, which invariably ends in tears. I found the comments on language learning interesting.
Scott seems at best only open-minded about the benefits of learning a foreign language. I only speak English and have a toddler growing up in an English speaking country. The trouble is the sources always seem to be from those who have already mastered several languages. Given money and time are finite, and the marginal effort could be put into music, general learning or just play — do any readers have any new viewpoints on whether language learning is of high value even discounting any practical application.
The primary benefit of being bilingual as an American is that it signifies upper-class status. This is very useful for the purposes of admission into top universities. For these purposes, the language should have three characteristics. First, it should have limited practical use.
Second, it should be associated with high culture.
Under my theory, languages like French German and Russian would be ideal for these purposes in America. It would also mean that my choice to learn German was a tactical mistake. One of your neighbours speaks Spanish, an increasing proportion of the US population speaks Spanish as a native language and the rest of America or Americas if you consider it to be two continents minus Brazil, Suriname, French Guayana which together have a lower population than many cities in the US an a couple of islands speaks Spanish.
Plus it is closer to English than German and especially Russian and probably a bit easier way more sensible spelling and easier pronunciation than French. It makes sense to learn German for Europeans and Russian also to some degree, but learning French is in many ways a relic of a bygone era, Spanish is the new French again. That said, personally I found German to be much more similar to English than the romance languages I briefly studied.
To each his own. I speak both German and English as well as ok-ish Spanish and even Spanish is closer to English than German is, French is even closer than that. German is more phonetic than French, but that seems like the only thing that makes it easier for an English speaker. Particularly Brazilian Portuguese sounds amazing. In America, we have never had titles of nobility: At the same time, the upper classes have traditionally had a distinctly aristocratic character.
Boston Brahmins and all that. And they need to be able to distinguish themselves from the plebs, especially for university admissions to Ivy league schools. Acquiring a time-consuming and impractical skill, like learning French and gaining a passing familiarity with French literature, signals that one has money to spare and is clued into the current intellectual fashion.
Yeah, I missed that. Unless Spanish is your native language, speaking it fluently should still be considered impressive in the US.
The only way to edge out Spanish in terms of prestige is with a more difficult but still commonly spoken language like Arabic or Mandarin. Learning Latin or some Euro langauge where all the native speakers are bilingual will impress no one. Learning Latin or some Euro [language] where all the native speakers are bilingual will impress no one.
Chinese at least is famously difficult. Spanish is the language you take because you want to sleep through your language requirement. Where do people consider Arabic or Spanish to be the most prestigious languages? Arabic seemed extremely prestigious when I was in college, but that might have been an artifact of going to school in DC during the height of the Iraq occupation.
Nabil ad Dajjal: Most people learn either French or German as a second foreign language everyone learns English as the first. Plus my German is still far from perfect.
But people somehow imagine it is really difficult to do that while really it gets easier with each new language from the same language group and in fact it might be harder to learn Mandarin than to learn 4 languages from the Indo-European branch when your native tongue also belongs to that branch. In fact really good fluency of English is still considered mildly impressive in Europe outside of the UK, Malta and Ireland, obviously.
Some countries fare better than others though. Pretty much all Dutch people speak English very well, I think the same holds for Swedes and Norwegians as well probably a combination of no dubbing on TV and relative proximity to the English language. I think continental Europeans also sometimes try to signal status by learning received pronunciation in English. I hate it though, since mostly it is still slightly off and it just sounds snobbish.
Learning Spanish to interact with low-class workers is a detriment to your upper-class status. Who talks to the help? Haitians speak French. Also, do lower-class Americans who are not of Latin American origin actually speak Spanish? I somehow doubt it. I generally find the concept of stuff like volunteer work and sports achievements influencing the college admission strange or writing any personal essays or whatever.
Yeah you guys have nailed it.
I guess the equivalent of Spanish here would be putting down that Kurdish or similar is spoken at home. UK university admission might or might not take something like Mandarin into account but the private schools before do and those are arguably a bigger component of achieving as well as signalling upper middle-class status. Well, Mandarin is a marketable skill in itself if you actually speak it well, I think. Not by itself, probably. If a company wants to impress their Chinese partners they will probably rather hire someone from China who speaks English to do that, but if you speak Mandarin and can do something else as well, I guess it is a plus.
But the language is really hard, or rather the writing system is really hard. On the plus side, you will be able to communicate in written form with speakers of very different languages, such as Cantonese and maybe even Japanese? Still, time is limited and spending it learning Mandarin unless you know why seems a bit strange — unless you like it for the language itself but this is not the case with little kids.
If you want to learn multiple languages, in Europe it makes sense to learn one of each of the three branches of Indo-European languages for these purposes, English is really Germano-romance , because that allows you to learn all other Indo-European languages with relative ease, so pretty much all European languages Hungarian, Finnish and Estonian are not Indo-European, all other languages in Europe are, unless you count Georgia and Armenia as Europe and unless you count Basque.
German is probably the hardest Germanic language but by far the most spoken one and other Germanic languages are so close to English that an English native would pick them up with ease. German also has some features common with Slavic languages — grammatical cases and three grammatical genders.
If you learn these three languages, you will kind of understand something everywhere in Europe outside of Finland, Estonia, Hungary…probably also Albania and Greece.
And learning all three will probably take about as much effort as learning Mandarin properly. Russian will be the hardest for an English native speaker, Spanish the easiest. I learned Spanish using pretty much just a free app called Duolingo in about a year to a level where I could have a basic conversation on most topics and the only sort-of-romance language I spoke before that was English technically I had a year of French in the 10th grade but I forgot everything since.
Hoho — this appears to be exactly the route we are going down. We live in London and she is learning Mandarin. French or German have a much less steep learning curve but given our proximity to Europe arguably too high a possibility of practical use.
In all seriousness though, a switch to one of those in her next school might be sensible depending on the assessment of the sunk costs at that point. Mandarin or Russian were the only options at her nursery. Learning to sing nursery rhymes and some words through play I think fits in with many of the interpretations of what Polgar was doing right without a lot of downside.
But if the learning curve is still steep the decision gets harder. Keep in mind that many kids absolutely despise having to learn a language with no application. Then they should learn Japanese.
Watching anime without subtitles is useful to a teenager, while being able to easily travel to Japan might be useful to them as an adult..
Part of being a parent is making choices for your children that will pay off long term. Most people seem to hate Brussel sprouts because their parents boiled them. Pretty much the worst way to cook Brussel sprouts…. I might hate Brussels sprouts for their bitterness, if I could get past their foul odor long enough to actually put one in my mouth.
I thought the reason for making kids eat vegetables they find unpalatable is for nutritional purposes during their childhood, not so much building adult habits. How many Europeans speak English? How many Americans speak Spanish? This is not because France has a mind-bogglingly good educational system. Your kid will speak Spanish like a native. As a person who loves vegetables coercion is also a terrible way to get people to eat vegetables as adults, which is presumably the goal.
But in the case of a five-year-old child learning piano or composing, we cannot depend only on delayed feedback or abstract feedback. Robert Lawler just showed me a paper by Harold Macurdy on the child pattern of genius. Macurdy reviews the early education of many eminent people from the last couple of centuries and concludes 1 that most of them had an enormous amount of attention paid to them by one or both parents and 2 that generally they were relatively isolated from other children.
This is very different from what most people today consider an ideal school. It seems to me that much of what we call education is really socialization. Consider what we do to our kids.
Is it really a good idea to send your 6-year-old into a room full of 6-year-olds, and then, the next year, to put your 7-year-old in with 7-year-olds, and so on? A simple recursive argument suggests this exposes them to a real danger of all growing up with the minds of 6-year-olds. That is all largely overlapping with my own feelings and views at age numbers semi-arbitrarily chosen. Eric Weinstein https: One common thread in the comments is concern about the risks of specialization.
I have no interest in raising a Chess Grandmaster per ce, to me the goal would be raising a child who by the age of 20 may be a Grandmaster, may be a piano virtuoso, whatever their one thing is, they have a handle on it—but who is also curious about the world and equipped to go on to explore new interests and gain new proficiencies. A concern seems to be the opportunity costs of specialization.
But it is not a zero-sum game. He retired on his savings from his stipend and salary! He went on to become a competitive regatta racer, an author, and a quant at some hedge fund. He mentions in his book that specializing has a snowball effect—the confidence that comes from mastery in one area helps one in new endeavors. Piotr Wozniak, the SuperMemo guy, also talks about this.
Genius-level accomplishment might be much more difficult circa than it was circa Not only do we have many more geniuses, but we also have several centuries of accumulated intellectual capital. Making a sizable contribution to any field may be much harder now, and it may be much more difficult to compete at high-level competitions. So, yes, specialization would be in fact required to become a truly exceptional.
I made a comment about the Scott Adams theory of success above. What you really want are two complimentary skills that are both in the 80th percentile. So Scott is good at writing jokes and good at drawing…not great, but in 80th percentile, so he can float himself as a cartoonist. My background is business, and businesses are all about leveraging different capabilities from different people.
I should read this book. But it sounds like Polgar specifically aims for single-domain excellence. I suspect a next step would be to set up, and then post, an email where more private expressions of potential interest can be directed. Perhaps he might have had his eyes opened had he managed to beget a son or two, rather than 3 daughters. Secondly, I would be most impressed if he was able to demonstrate his methods on someone other than 3 cherry-picked examples. Say, if he had one natural-born daughter and two other adopted daughters, one from Sub-Saharan Africa, and one from West Virginia.
Having the same results from that grouping would indeed be impressive to say the least. Note that this gives only an approximation, and its veracity has certainly been challenged, particularly because of the measured IQ of Garry Kasporov , who, under the above rule should have had an IQ of around Susan or an IQ of approx. According to this sceptical article, the Polgar sisters likely had IQs in the range: What are the chances of these things to fall in place together?
Many of which run counter to common wisdom or intuition. Early start with 3 runs counter to the belief that small kids can do the stuff much older children or adults can.
And in some cases like reading this is supported by by evidence exceptions notwithstanding. I know of no other people who tried to raise numerate children by singing counting rhymes to infants or something comparable. I was lucky that my parents let me spend insane hours at the home computer despite not knowing that it would pay off for me. Home schooling is done for only 3. I think doing so correlates with being a good teacher though Polgar is another level. But good teachers are seldom too and also need their own 10K practice.
In comparison being a good parent is comparatively frequent I hope. But it is an independent factor I think. The rest being common sense is a bit easy on how infrequent common sense actually is. And even if there is common sense it still needs to be applied with discipline and we know how hard that is with all the other things we do. On top of that I think there is another requirement that is not in the list of four things: Doing enough hours per day.
Polgar states 9 hours a day. This really sounds a lot. And I understand that he and his daughters enjoyed it. All my boys could do fractions and some exponentials before school.
And it was fun. But the curve flattened when they got to school where it stopped being fun. I wonder whether smarter parents can hit this sweet easier or whether finding it at all requires a certain amount of smarts or else luck.
If so we should see long tails in the distribution of genius level results. My impression is that chess is a field in which the benefits of starting early are unusually large — virtually every professional chess player today started playing at a very young age, and this was true to a lesser extent even in earlier days when the general skill level was lower than it is now. The result is a mass-production system, which is either too slow or two fast for most students, and no focus on one single subject for any student.
While a larger fraction of observed geniuses have been children of the affluent, that seems to be more of a reflection of economic opportunity, and the children of the affluent have never been credited with being more brilliant than the children of the middle classes whatever those were at the time. One could ask, is it really possible for one person to teach 10 children in this manner?
In the one case on record, two people taught three children. However, he is well-known for writing educational books on chess, so perhaps he was supported by the Hungarian chess system. One way to generalize his solution for mass education would be 15 years of paid child-rearing time per child. During that time the father and mother use internet connected services to help them choose, manage and teach a specialized area of knowledge to their children.
All uses of these systems are tracked and monitored. Machine learning sifts through the data and hunts for deviants, free riders and anyone doing a poor job. Human agents review the results of the algorithm, investigate and prosecute anyone breaking the law.
Politics goes on as normal; new laws are created, some laws removed, some laws are enforced some years and not other years. My children happened to choose chess as the subject they would specialize in. And it turned out that I could train them to be very good at it! He calls it deliberate practice and gives lots of examples and research. The problem is that it does not necessarily work in areas where measurement of progress is difficult.
So it works well for sports, physical activities, chess, languages, very specialised math but not necessarily for science or humanities although each of these has components that would be susceptible to this sort of approach. It is also not a good approach for general education — you have to focus on one thing to the exclusion of too much else. Email Address.
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We're always hiring talented programmers, traders, and researchers and have internships and fulltime positions in New York, London, and Hong Kong. No background in finance required. Slate Star Codex. Stockholm, SE Jun Full Archives. Book Review: Posted on July 31, by Scott Alexander. As for the curriculum, it would be: So how does one go about ensuring that a child loves education? Some of this seems apparent in his section on play: More on peers: On curriculum design: On grades and competition: And on the end goal: And unrelated to child-rearing, but very related to a previous discussion on this blog: One concluding quote from Polgar: This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged book review , hungary , iq , psychology.
Bookmark the permalink. Open Djed. Reverse order. Deiseach says: July 31, at 2: Scott Alexander says: July 31, at 3: I think this is the opposite of what Polgar believes. From the book: Viliam says: July 31, at 4: But here are things that reduce the risk: Jiro says: July 31, at 7: July 31, at 8: VivaLaPanda says: July 31, at 6: A Definite Beta Guy says: August 1, at 8: August 1, at 6: August 1, at August 2, at 9: Onyomi, Here is where I am probably going to disagree with you: JL says: August 20, at Tarpitz says: July 31, at 9: Grey Enlightenment says: July 31, at 5: If good teachers make a huge difference and anyone can tell you that they do , Trust me, some students and their parents complain about those good teachers, too.
Nancy Lebovitz says: Aapje says: Tibor says: August 1, at 7: August 2, at 4: August 2, at 7: Oh yes. Social skills. Malarious says: James Miller says: July 31, at Candide III says: Sure, it is weaker evidence than having 3 child geniuses raised independently. August 1, at 9: Fuge says: July 31, at 1: BlindKungFuMaster says: Nabil ad Dajjal says: Glad to see that the translation is complete. Gerry Quinn says: Fiona van Dahl says: Fiona van Dahl Yeah, you got it in one.
August 3, at 7: Ozy Frantz says: In other countries which might not speak English, knowing English is pretty important. August 1, at 4: Spookykou says: I am answering what the point is, the point is to help your children. HeelBearCub says: August 2, at 5: August 2, at 1: August 6, at 6: Michael Watts says: Skivverus says: Tiger Woods is another such success story.
Alternatively it could be a case of nominative determinism striking again! August 2, at 8: A question I have is: If not chess, then what?Is it useful for society? One learns how to learn.
As the dad of a very bright year old I suggest exposing your kid to lots of things and let her interests decide how you allocate your learning time with her. But still, I am sure that without those pressures, they also could have progressed even faster. Please explain the relation if you would maintain this position.
The only way to know for sure is to try.
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