Learning to learn as a child prodigy
Over at the always fantastic SharpBrains website, Scott Barry Kaufman interviews Joshua Waitzkin, the young chess prodigy immortalized in Searching for Bobby Fischer. As Kaufman introduces his interview:
This movie had the effect of weakening [Waitzkin’s] love for the game as well as the learning process. His passion for learning was rejuvenated, however, after years of meditation, and reading philosophy and psychology. With this rekindling of the learning process, Waitzkin took up the martial art Tai Chi Chuan at the age of 21 and made rapid progress, winning the 2004 push hands world championship at the age of 27. After reading Joshua’s most recent book The Art of Learning, I thought of a million topics I wanted to discuss with him–topics such as being labelled a “child prodigy”, blooming, creativity, and the learning process.
To the question about the disadvantages of being a child prodigy, Waitzkin responds:
The most perilous danger, in the language of Carol Dweck, is that we internalize an entity theory of intelligence. The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity. For that reason, it is incredibly important for parents to make their feedback process related as opposed to praising or criticizing talent. Think about it—if you tell a kid that she is a winner, which a lot of well-intentioned parents do, then she learns that her winning is because of something ingrained in her. But if we win because we are a winner, then when we lose it must make us a loser.
Check out the entire interview here.