Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

The child prodigies that make me uneasy

with 2 comments

Parents are always proud of their children’s achievements, however small and insignificant. From the first “proper” smile about seven weeks’ through the ten metre swimming certificate and beyond, we are programmed to burst with pride at every opportunity.

Every child is talented at something, of course, and it is always something to celebrate.

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But there is something about stories of child geniuses and academic achievements that make me a little uneasy.

Take, for instance, six-year-old Esther Okade, who has just attained a grade C maths GCSE, and seven-year-old Oscar Selby who was awarded an A* grade in the same subject .

No doubt these children are incredibly talented, bright and gifted. Their parents are proud. The two wunderkids look happy enough.

I wish them every success as they grow up and hope they are happy and settled as they go through life.

But stories like these nag at me and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

Am I concerned about their well-being as they grow older and put themselves under intense pressures to prove themselves? Or is it about the outside influences, which heap pressure on them, leading to myriad problems?

Is it pushy parenting? There are elements of that in some cases of child prodigies, of course.

Is it about allowing them to have a “normal” childhood so they develop the social skills that are vital to living with their fellow humans?  A person who cannot empathise is an isolated and lonely figure.

What is it that makes me so troubled about six and seven-year-olds taking such formal exams?

Most importantly, what do you think?


Written by CommonPeople

August 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Jayne's posts

Tagged with , , , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. Esther is being home-schooled, and while I admire her mother for this, I do hope that the social aspects of her life are also fulfilled, and not just by an extended family. Schools have their problems, but prepare children to negotiate with others from a variety of backgrounds, enabling them to deal better in the workplace when they become adults.

    Also many of these prodigies excel at Maths and IT. Why not learn another language, widen geographical knowledge, learn more about other cultures (inc English culture and history)? I think you get the picture….and don’t forget life skills!


    August 28, 2010 at 8:21 pm

  2. Thanks for commenting, Louise.
    I agree with you (particularly about life skills. Being able to communicate/negotiate etc are vital as you go through life).


    August 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

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