The Early Lives of Child Prodigies

  1. Gregory R. Bock Organizer and
  2. Kate Ackrill
  1. Michael J. A. Howe

Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470514498.ch6

Ciba Foundation Symposium 178 - The Origins and Development of High Ability

Ciba Foundation Symposium 178 - The Origins and Development of High Ability

How to Cite

Howe, M. J. A. (2007) The Early Lives of Child Prodigies, in Ciba Foundation Symposium 178 - The Origins and Development of High Ability (eds G. R. Bock and K. Ackrill), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470514498.ch6

Author Information

  1. Department of Psychology, University of Exeter, Washington Singer Laboratories, Perry Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471939450

Online ISBN: 9780470514498

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Keywords:

  • child prodigies;
  • biographical accounts;
  • childhood;
  • ability of individuals;
  • adult achievements

Summary

Child prodigies raise interesting questions about the ways in which childhood experiences contribute to adult achievements. The likelihood of a highly able child being called a prodigy partly depends upon whether or not the individual's abilities are readily apparent to other people. By no means all outstanding adults were prodigies as children. Biographical accounts by prodigies themselves provide interesting insights. They show that most child prodigies devote a substantial amount of time to learning and Studying, that some prodigies experience serious problems which appear to be related to their unusual early lives, and that very few prodigies emerge in families that do not provide good opportunities to learn. The fact that evidence from prodigies and other sources of information shows that all outstanding adults were at least fairly able in childhood raises the question of whether it is ever possible for an individual who displays no signs at all of above-average ability before adulthood to eventually become outstanding over a broad range of intellectual abilities.