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Tugas Kelompok

21 Februari 2015
Artikel ini mengenai Child Prodigy, yaitu anak dengan kecerdasan
luar biasa atau dapat dikatakan anak ajaib yang jenius pada suatu
bidang, melebihi kemampuan anak sebayanya atau bahkan melampaui
orang dewasa.
Ada beberapa indikator untuk melihat berbagai ketidakpatutan terhadap anak.
Diantaranya yang paling menonjol adalah orientasi pada kemampuan intelektual
secara dini. Akibatnya bermunculanlah anak-anak ajaib dengan kepintaran
intelektual luar biasa. Mereka dicoba untuk menjalani akselerasi dalam
pendidikannya dengan memperoleh pengayaan kecakapan-kecakapan akademik
di dalam dan di luar sekolah.
Selama puluhan tahun, orang begitu yakin bahwa keberhasilan anak di masa
depan sangat ditentukan oleh faktor kognitif. Otak memang memiliki
kemampuan luar biasa yang tiada berhingga. Oleh karena itu banyak orangtua
dan para pendidik tergoda untuk melakukan Early Childhood Training. Era
pemberdayaan otak mencapai masa keemasannya. Setiap orangtua dan
pendidik berlomba-lomba menjadikan anak-anak mereka menjadi anak-anak
yang super (Superkids).

The Wrong Way to Treat Child


Geniuses
Former prodigies like me need less attention, not more.
An Essay By Jordan Ellenberg

When I was a child, I was a "genius"the kind you sometimes see profiled
on the local news. I started reading at 2. I could multiply two-digit numbers in my
head when I was 5. One of my earliest memories is working out a way to
generate Pythagorean triples. In third grade, I commuted to the local junior high
to take geometry. Kids on the playground would sometimes test me by asking
what a million times a million wasand were delighted when I knew the answer.
Many advocates for gifted education are similarly delighted by kids like me,
seeing us as a kind of natural resource, one we risk squandering as surely as we
do fossil fuels. Some educators rebrand child prodigies as "exceptional human
capital" and hold us to be the drivers of global economic competitiveness.
"These are the people who are going to figure out all the riddles," the Vanderbilt
University psychologist David Lubinski said in a recent interview. "Schizophrenia,
cancerthey're going to fight terrorism, they're going to create patents and the
scientific innovations that drive our economy. But they are not given a lot of
opportunities in schools that are designed for typically developing kids."
Hearing this sort of thing was pretty flattering when I was a child. But today,
I don't think we're paying too little attention to our young geniuses. I think we're
paying too much.
Dr. Lubinski and coauthor Camilla Benbow direct the Study of
Mathematically Precocious Youth, based at Vanderbilt, the most ambitious
attempt yet to follow the life course of the prodigious child. Since 1983, the
study has tracked a group of several hundred students who, before the age of
13, scored at least 700 on the math SAT or 630 on the verbalscores that only 1

in 10,000 children that age attain. Those students, now in their early 40s, have
filed regular reports on their intellectual and professional development for
decades. They're pretty developed: Some 44% of them have doctoral degrees
(only 2% of the general population does); their median income was $80,000,
about twice the U.S. average for people their age; and two ex-prodigies are
Harvard professors. These kids don't flame bright and burn out; they start strong
and keep going.
I've been following these students closelypartly because the study is a
fascinating piece of social science, partly because I'm one of them. At 12, I got a
perfect 800 on the math SAT and 680 on the verbal, thereby joining the
Vanderbilt study's data set for life. Now I'm a tenured math professor, novelist
and nonfiction writer, just like the standardized tests said I should be: yet
another of the study's success stories.
But here's the thing: Talent isn't a number. We would never presume to
identify the great novelists of the future by counting the number of vocabulary
words they knew at age 10. To think we can do the same for math and science
as if proving the Riemann hypothesis were something like getting 100,000 on the
math SATis to adopt a depressingly impoverished view of science and its
demands on its practitioners. The cult of genius tends to undervalue hard work
and the productive persistence that psychologists nowadays like to call "grit"
not to mention creativity, perspective and taste, without which all those other
virtues may be wasted on pointless projects.
Plucking the great scientists of the future out of their scattered middle
schools is hard, perhaps impossible. Dr. Lubinski's report on the grown-up
prodigies isn't called, "What Happens to Child Prodigies as Adults?" It's called,
"Who Rises to the Top?" But it leaves the latter question unanswered.
Those of us who managed sky-high SAT scores at 13 were 20 times as likely
as the average American to get a doctorate; let's say, being charitable, that
we're 100 times as likely to make a significant scientific advance. Since we're
only 1 in 10,000 of the U.S. population, that still leaves 99% of scientific
advances to be made by all those other kids who didn't get an early ticket to the
genius club. We geniuses aren't going to solve all the riddles. Most child
prodigies are highly successfulbut most highly successful people weren't child
prodigies.
This can be a hard lesson for the prodigies themselves. It is natural to
believe that the just-pubescent children on the mathletic podium next to you are
the best, the ones who really matter. And for the most part, my fellow child stars
and I have done very well. But the older I get, the more I see how many brilliant
people in the world weren't Doogie Howser-like prodigies; didn't shine in Math
Olympiad; didn't go to the inner circle of elite colleges. I'm embarrassed that I
didn't understand at 13 that it would be this way. But when they keep telling you
you're the best, you start to believe you're the best.
One of the most painful aspects of teaching mathematics is seeing my
students damaged by the cult of the genius. That cult tells students that it's not
worth doing math unless you're the best at mathbecause those special few are
the only ones whose contributions really count. We don't treat any other subject
that way. I've never heard a student say, "I like 'Hamlet,' but I don't really belong
in AP Englishthat child who sits in the front row knows half the plays by heart,
and he started reading Shakespeare when he was 7!" Basketball players don't
quit just because one of their teammates outshines them. But I see promising
young mathematicians quit every year because someone in their range of vision
is "ahead" of them.
And losing mathematicians isn't the only problem. We need more math
majors who don'tbecome mathematiciansmore math-major doctors, more

math-major high-school teachers, more math-major CEOs, more math-major


senators. But we won't get there until we dump the stereotype that math is
worthwhile only for child geniuses.
There is a myth that progress in mathematics is driven by the cognitive .01percenters, marked at birth, who blaze a path for the rest of humanity to trot
along. But in the real world, math is a communal enterprise. Each advance is the
product of a huge network of minds working toward a common purpose, even if
we accord special honor to the person who sets the final stone in the arch. As
Mark Twain said, "It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraphand the last
man gets the credit and we forget the others."
Terry Tao, a UCLA professor and a winner of the Fields Medal, the highest
honor a young mathematician can achieve, once wrote: "I find the reality of
mathematical research todayin which progress is obtained naturally and
cumulatively as a consequence of hard work, directed by intuition, literature, and
a bit of luckto be far more satisfying than the romantic image that I had as a
student of mathematics being advanced primarily by the mystic inspirations of
some rare breed of 'geniuses.' "
It isn't exactly wrong to say that Terry Tao and other former prodigies like
him are geniuses. But it is more accurate to say that what they accomplished
was genius. Genius is a thing that happens, not a kind of person.
Dr. Ellenberg is a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin,
Madison, and the author of "How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical
Thinking," recently published by the Penguin Press.

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