Genius 'won by hard work'

Click to follow
The Independent Online
GENIUS may be God-given but God alone is not enough to produce geniuses who excel throughout their lives, scientists said yesterday, writes Liz Hunt.

Long hours of practice, the best teachers and facilities and support from parents and teachers are vital components in the development of gifted and creative people, according to research.

Dr Howard Gardner, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the United States, said that 'bourgeois values' such as 'work values, doing things regularly and giving support' were necessary. '(Child) prodigies will burn out. The Yehudi Menhuins of this world are the exception . . . If Bobby Fischer had lived in a place without chess, would he have been just a nerd?'

At a conference in London on high ability, organised by the Ciba Foundation, scientists and psychologists were told that exam success in school was no indicator of success in later life. An ability to learn on the job and 'pick up tricks of the trade' were as important as IQ.

But genius has its drawbacks. An analysis by Dr Gardner of seven modern geniuses - selected for their outstanding abilities - suggested that they were destructive people, with masochistic and sadistic tendencies. The seven - who include Mahatma Ghandhi - were often 'impossible human beings' and 'were not fun to be around once they had finished using you'.

Each had identified their area of strength and worked on it to the exclusion of everything else.

Professor Robert Sternberg, of the Department of Psychology at Yale University, said that oustandingly creative people shared a 'willingness to surmount obstacles, with guts and persistence'.