Gladwell makes the distinction between gifted learners vs. gifted do'ers.
<quote> We think of precociousness as an early form of adult achievement, and, according to Gladwell, that concept is much of the problem. “What a gifted child is, in many ways, is a gifted learner. And what a gifted adult is, is a gifted doer. And those are quite separate domains of achievement.” </quote>
The vast majority of children want simply to be like other children and, most of all, to have their parents' love. I believe it is the latter force that drives the typical child prodigy. That is, what drives the achievement is not anything like intellectual passion (which mostly comes later) but a desire for the parent's approval and love. It's sad when that is conditional on mastering calculus at age 8 or what have you.
So I mean, this stuff happens with or without parents. I think it's cause I really enjoyed all these things..my parents sat me down with the Sunday comics to get me to read when I was a baby not because they wanted me to be some genius, but because apparently it looked like I had an interest in the colorful stuff on the paper. (On a sidenote, some parents think they can make their kids into "genius"es and their kids overwork themselves to get into these programs to get their approval and man it ends up being a waste of time!)
I believe Moshe is a very cute kid who has brains. I think that his parents realized that early on and got him to do all these things. My ultimate problem with this situation is that he's too young and inexperienced in every other way..he's only known that life he has now and nothing else, and there's probably no way in hell his parents will backtrack and just leave him alone (probably blame it on him eventually reaching puberty? who knows). I don't know if he'll end up regretting it, or if he'll end up thanking his parents for what they've done. But I think it's a damn shame regardless.
And you do have a really valid point that not a lot of people are realizing. I can count a LOT of people my age and older that I know were just as gifted as this kid..but what did they end up doing? Um, nothing that someone will remember 10 years later, usually. That doesn't mean they're not gifted..they're pretty intelligent. But it's not something that really stands out..it's usually what they want to do and they just do it.
Personally, I think his parents (his dad in particular) ARE pushing him way too much.
And really, as much as that article says his parents didn't want to push him, I get the impression that they do, and maybe to extremes...at the least, they imply so.
I want him to be a kid! I've had MANY friends go this route at various ages (but all still earlier than usual), and some of them regret slaving away at classwork only to end up like everyone else except a couple years faster..which ends up meaning almost nothing most of the time. It really depends on the person..but almost all of them follow the same pattern. Study, study, study, do lots of extracurriculars..get into college, go to grad school a bit early, and end up in the same place as half their intellectual peers. Do employers care? Not really. Do schools care? Maybe for the teeny bit of publicity, but not really. In fact, if you do skip that much that early you probably end up running into issues with school administration.
Honestly, is there something bad about taking ones time? I used to take classes at the CC when I was 11-12ish, and I felt insanely out of place in most of them because everyone was several years older than me and while it was easy to get acquainted with others (it can be an interesting introduction), it's just not the same. My parents liked the idea but they would babysit me the whole way through (well, not the classwork) because they weren't comfortable with me beling alone on campus.
Essentially, the behavior of any preteen just won't be the same as anybody over 18.
One reason, I think, is that kids are expected to play non-productive games all the time. Another is that there's this warped, prevalent perspective that work and play are opposites.
I got pushed into a gifted program (the highly gifted magnet schools in LAUSD) by my parents. It was boring, and I wish they didn't - the people I met were fantastic but the program itself was the biggest waste of time. Another kid in my class made the papers like this one cause he finished his HS diploma and went on to college early, and his mom fought EVERYONE along the way to make it happen.
Of course, I dropped out of HS early and went to a community college too (well, I took a whole bunch of classes there starting from 6th grade anyway), and I enjoyed the experience. A lot of my friends went from middle school to college. There are a fair number of programs like that around like at Cal State LA..a few more places..Simon's Rock is another one I can think of now.
I don't think it's really the studying, but the attitude. The only time I liked the gifted program was where we almost had individualized studies (one kid might be doing basic math, another could be doing algebra) but were grouped together into one class (the social factor) and we were free to do whatever we want. I liked community college because I picked what I wanted to do, generally wasn't stuffed with useless busywork (I dropped most of those classes and took the same one with different profs), et cetera. Meanwhile, the equivalent AP classes at the HS were boring, nothing BUT busywork, and we HAD to stick with the schedule studying to the tests we had to take and there was no room for anything more because some people couldn't keep up. The forced-ness was what I hated.
And yeah, that whole work and play are opposites thing is annoying too. I learn a lot from hands-on labs and things, and we didn't get to do a lot of those ever. Maybe it was because it was a cash-strapped public school?
Finally, I think all of this needs to be customized to the student, because that's what makes it so good. The gifted program I was in was great for some, the early college stuff was great for others, and neither really worked for me.
EDIT: What I am trying to say is that a professor/student relationship is one of inequality. When the relationship moves beyond only one side influencing the course of discussion/discovery, then a relationship of equals is established, albeit a relation of equals where one side is more equal than the other (and that relationship may swap over the course of time).
I am a bit biased because I found most of my pre-university studies boring. I also didn't fit in with the other students while I was in middle school and high school.
Or at least that's what it was like for me. One of the things I loved to do was to code, and well, that sort of went out the window for the two years I was in high school because I'd be dead tired and in need of sleep every single night after the requisite extracurriculars and homework. My parents wouldn't let me drive to school in the morning because I'd get only a couple of hours of sleep a night sometimes and they didn't want me to fall asleep behind the wheel.
Even on weekends I didn't have time because I had to study for the classes I hated and do lame group projects where at least one member didn't do their fair share of work.
It's not necessarily a bad thing that HS trains (American) kids to work so well. Society runs on people doing (generally) repetitive work consistently. My early rejection of the system meant I got left out in the cold in terms of knowing how to do that. I did get a lot of 'soft' (i.e. cannot learn from books) computer/cs/systems knowledge out of what I did spent my HS years doing, though.
On the flip side I think we should front-load education because kids hardly learn anything from jr. high onward, thanks to the hormone fairy. There are a few exceptions, of course.
It certainly works for me. I schedule all my college classes after 10am if possible, otherwise I just fall asleep in class no matter how early I go to sleep the night before.
Of course it's hard to know very much by age 10 if your parents lie to you frequently. But that isn't the child's fault.
Point being, this kid doesn't have the experience to know what he's missing by not being a little boy. Who says that his parents are telling him the truth?
I was constantly forced to go outside and do something active. Pursuing intelligence was frowned upon. I am not exaggerating either. My grandmother told my mother, "Don't let those boys grow up to be too intelligent. No one will like them." My mother criticized my intellectual pursuits: "Chess is a stupid hobby."; "People don't need computers." My father was simply hands off. He didn't believe in pushing someone in one direction or another.
My point is this: I had the capability to do university studies at an early age, but my parents denied me that opportunity. I knew what I was missing because I've now experienced university life. The University of Florida was exactly what I imagined a university to be--the freedom to pursue whatever occupied my mind.
For those who may think that such bitterness is unwarranted or inappropriate for such a situation, I accept that I am bitter about it and I relish in the fact that I am no longer in such a situation.
(personal opinion butting in: college at 12 and college at 16 and college at 19 are totally different experiences..not necessarily intellectually, but in every other way, which is arguably a big part of it).
And I don't think he should be forced to not study, but rather to study what he wants when he wants to without his parents' influence. We all change, how does he know sooo surely that he wants to dedicate that much effort/time to that subject for sure?
Also, some parents do the opposite, some don't. Some misunderstand the purpose of the internet, which I think is the real problem. My parents attempted to and eventually stopped trying to filter what I did on the computer after I circumvented everything they tried and turned the tables on them (I was a complete brat :D), but they also spent a fortune of their then-pitiful earnings on books and toys and hardware I wanted. They felt that was more important than indulging their own desires (typical asian parents).
Now I'm paying that back in various ways, and I thank them for all of that. I don't think I would have been the big geek I am now if it wasn't for them putting up with me tearing apart half the electronics they owned.
I wonder what he'll turn out to be like 10 years later.
First, if someone does the work, they should get the pay/equity, regardless of age.
I say forget grades and jumping through other people's hoops. If he wants to do it, he will do it for its own sake.
Second, I'd let the poor kid hang out at my startup just to get away from his parents and structure. He can play with action figures or something. Of course maybe he's perfectly happy where he is, but if not, it would be nice to have someplace to go where the adults just leave you alone. A lot of us can relate to his situation.
I am not in a position to have anyone intern (I run my startup out of my house -- Downey doesn't let you have a business license for an apartment, by the way!) That, and I flunked out of college in my first semester.
My offer is entirely tongue-in-cheek and it came from the same place you're coming from. But I understand you don't know me, so it's cool. Nice to meet you!
I really think he needs a break from his parents. It might do him some good.