Friday, June 19, 2009

Interesting Read: The Cult of Genius

Its an old article, but I just came across it and found interesting so sharing it here:

It talks about immediate connection between the smartness and success of a person in physics. It further quotes an article of New York Magazine based on a study by Carol Dweck on correlation of IQ and immediate success of children in exams.

The article is focused on how to effectively handle praise for smart kids. The upshot (verified by a number of clever experiments), is that when you praise a kid for being smart in general, rather than for specific accomplishments or efforts, you risk paralyzing the kid with a fear of not looking smart, to the point where they will tend to shun challenges.

It further says:

While Dweck is working primarily with preK-12 students, everything covered in the article rings true for what I’ve seen at the higher levels (both for myself, my colleagues, and students). Those of us who are fortunate enough to sail through high school often crumple when the stuff we’re allegedly good at finally becomes hard. Whether you “make it” as a physicist after that has a lot to do with how you respond at that moment. Do you take it as a sign that you’re not cut out for the game? Do you feel like a failure, and stop enjoying physics as a whole? Do you buck up and forge ahead? (Like a neutrino, you’ll probably wind up oscillating among the three mixed states for a while, before collapsing into one of them.)

Yes, you have to be clever, but if you have good taste in problems, an ability to forge intellectual connections, an eye for untapped opportunities, drive, and yes, a willingness to work hard, you can have major impacts on the field.

Although it talks about physics, but I think is generally true for success in any profession. What do you think?

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