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Nature's Gambit: Child Prodigies and the Development of Human Potential (Education and Psychology of the Gifted Series) Paperback – September, 1991

3.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Education and Psychology of the Gifted Series (Book 9)
  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Teachers College Pr (September 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807731439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807731437
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,643,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has any interest in the phenomenon of child prodigies will find this book a fascinating read. It traces the early development of 6 children who are prodigies (able to work competitively at the adult level) in some field. Of the 6, the fields the children excel in are as follows: 2 are in chess, 1 is a writer, 1 a musician, 1 in mathematics, 1 is extremely gifted overall (one of the highest IQs recorded). The author explains why prodigies are more often found in some fields, such as music or chess, than others (such as writing- the writing prodigy was the only 1 of the 6 children studied who was not working at an adult professional level). The author delves into the "coincidences" of time, place, technology and parenting that allow these prodigies to develop. He draws on other examples of prodigies outside of his own 6 subjects. Among these is a severely handicapped youth who, through the dedication of his adoptive parents, was eventually discovered to have savant ability in music. Some may argue that one or the other child in the study may not be a true prodigy, but they are all interesting children to read about, and the author certainly makes some excellent observations on the development of human potential. I found this book hard to put down.
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Format: Paperback
The negative reviews of this book are unfair. It is far from perfect, but it contains very important information about the various forces that must all meet to create a prodigy. I did find the small amount of material about some of the parents and teachers believing that prodigies are reincarnated geniuses to be absurd. But that did not discount the value of the rest of the book.
The most important point in this book is that contrary to the myth that prodigies are born with their talent and will overcome all obstacles to become great, in reality they must be exposed to a field or art, their interest must be observed and acted upon by a parent, and the parents must work hard to allow a potential prodigy to achieve any significant portion of his potential. This is not a trivial point. And it indicates that only a tiny portion of potential prodigies are ever given a chance.
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Format: Hardcover
"Nature's Gambit", David Feldman & Lynn Goldsmith, NY, Basic Books, Inc., 1986 ISBN 0-465-04861-7, HC, 251 pg. plus 8 pg. Notes & 8 pg. Index, 9 1/2" x 6 1/2".

With one prior book on cognitive development, Feldman's literary style seems to lack substance, is wordy, apologetic yet pompous & curiously exposes a surreal gambit. In Preface he bespeaks Gruber of Harvard "had once again recognized a deeper theme in my work ..." And, "prodigies had either been ignored entirely...or interpreted as freaks of nature -- exceptions...described but not explained" & he (author) wants "prodigy phenomenon"...recognized as a lawful example of development rather than...anomaly." He believes there is "a dimension to human evolution that is different from evolution in cats or pansies" & his study may teach us "how we might better choreograph our uniquely human dance." As, perhaps, a humble Literary First, Acknowledgements begin: "Although this book bears the name of a single author..." we find cover & title page imprinted "with Lynn T. Goldsmith." (We are told it is his wife).

The 12 Chaps. divided into 3 Parts cover his search, observations & sagacity on 6 prodigies & their gurus & some analyses of cultural encounters & assimilation issues with cohorts, siblings, parents & mentors. He expounds on the term "co-incidence...the major organizing theme...to capture...many sets of forces in development & expression of human potential" which require guidance. The 6 children in study are all boys, the author apologizing thrice for this happening. How "one is Italian" & "one is distinctly Scottish" is far, far beyond me, as is his expose that "Only one...is Jewish, which surprized me" (he fails to reveal if there should me more or none).
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