Raise a Genius!
Like many other 20 year olds, I’ve had an interest in child rearing for a long time. Unfortunately, many books on this subject are written from a fairly theoretical perspective, pandering to the intuitions of what parents want to believe. I’ve been a fan of Laszlo Polgar’s pedagogical theories for a long time, particularly in his approach of imbuing genius into his children.
For those unaware, Laszlo Polgar raised 3 world-class chess prodigy girls. Starting his training when they were 3, he systematically taught them to develop their utmost potential in chess, languages, and athletics. The results are difficult to argue with, especially as his three children were in the top 10 chess players in the world at the heights of their careers.
Polgar talks about many of the societal, personal, and pedagogical difficulties he faced when creating this program. The book itself doesn’t go into much depth about the specifics of his training program, but acts as a strange autobiography of his experience raising his children and his philosophical thoughts on it.
Polgar notes that a key pattern in the biographies of geniuses are that many of them started at a very young age and continued their growth through the guidance of someone wiser — not necessarily someone better, but someone who could provide the structure for growth that a child by herself would lack the ability to follow. As a result, it’s crucial that raising a genius begin at a fairly young age.
The key idea is that genius is something that can be cultivated in children. Children are naturally curious and absorb knowledge, and it’s crucial to slowly uncover information in a way that keeps them naturally engaged. Polgar started off teaching his daughters chess by first playing individual pieces before bringing them together, a process that took many months. He also points out how important it is for kids to win, as that continually brings them a sense of happiness to continue their engagement with the sport.
The benefits extend fairly far.