To raise a creative child, parents need to back off, writes Adam Grant in the New York Times. A professor of management and psychology at Penn’s Wharton School, he’s the author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.
“Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new,” writes Grant. Tiger Moms and Lombardi Dads raise their prodigies to become “excellent sheep” who crave the approval of their parents and teachers.
“The gifted learn to play magnificent Mozart melodies, but rarely compose their own original scores. They focus their energy on consuming existing scientific knowledge, not producing new insights.”
“Only a fraction of gifted children eventually become revolutionary adult creators,” writes psychologist Ellen Winner.
Parents of highly creative children set few rules, instead stressing moral values, one study found.
When the psychologist Benjamin Bloom led a study of the early roots of world-class musicians, artists, athletes and scientists, he learned that their parents didn’t dream of raising superstar kids. . . . They responded to the intrinsic motivation of their children.
Nobel Prize-winning scientists aren’t single-minded, Grant writes. Compared to other scientists, they’re “22 times more likely to perform as actors, dancers or magicians; 12 times more likely to write poetry, plays or novels; seven times more likely to dabble in arts and crafts; and twice as likely to play an instrument or compose music.”