Sunday, September 19, 2010

Make Your Child Genius

As parents have bragging rights about their children, the idea that you can make your children genius is very attractive. In Indonesia it's quite common to see pushy parents trying to get their children the best education money can buy. I've met parents who even paid the teacher to let their kids pass their exam. Seriously.

Parents would pay for extra classes/courses/workshop that promised to boost their children result. I heard there are even courses on how to pass an IQ test, because some elite/popular schools wont admit anyone with an IQ under 120 (normal IQ is around 100, to be admitted at Mensa you need IQ of 132 on Binet). It means who ever got admitted they are already have an above average intelligence to begin with. In such school, you can find kids with above average intelligence feeling that they are very stupid and have low self-esteem because they have to compete with even smarter peers. As soon as these kids transfered to another school, they could excelled and their result could be 180degrees from that in the previous school.

There is Kumon from Japan that supposed making kids geniuses in math. Several years ago in NL I taught math to this teenager who did Kumon, and after 6 months of graduated from it, he couldnt produce what he learnt before. He couldnt even solved a simple ABC equation. At this moment most of my nieces and nephews join Kumon, so I have the opportunity to look at their materials. It's mostly just drills, not really understanding how they reach the result. One of my cousins said the reason she put her kids on Kumon is to make her kids study, because most of the time it's not easy getting the kids to study on their own while my cousin is still at work.

Several years ago there was BrainGym, an American franchise which campaigned that by using their simple exercises children can scored a higher IQ. This pseudo science also got hold of schools in Britain. The difference between Indonesian and British media dealt with it was notable. While most of Indonesian media painted a great pictures of this expensive franchise, the BBC interviewed the founder and showed how the exercises are baseless. I wish we have someone like Paxman in Indonesian media who can say that it's just a glorified a nice way.

Lately, the course to do for kids is Activation Middle Brain. Apparently after completing their course, kids between 5 and 15 can do things while blindfolded such as coloring and reading. These things according to their promotion means children have better memories, better school result, able to speed read, enhanced intuition, etc. However it comes with price, USD 350 for a 2 days course and the parents are not allowed to observed. It is also a pseudo science franchise, this time comes from Malaysia aiming at parents who want their children to be geniuses instantly.

I dont understand parents who wants their kids to have enhanced intuition or supersonic hear or anything like that. It is very tiring to have those abilities, especially if you cant handle 'the gift', plus people could perceived you as a nutter. I do believe such abilities could actually destabilized children mentally. I also dont get why parents want to make their kids geniuses. It's one thing to be born as genius, being made a genius, if it is possible, is a whole another story. Being genius doesnt mean things are easier at school for their kids. There are plenty genius kids out there who have trouble at schools.

However I do understand that as parents you want to provide the best for your kids, and give them plenty opportunities to find and grow their talents. I think the most important thing is parents need to make sure their kids grow up to be a happy, balance and well adjusted persons, not that their kids can read blindfolded.


colson said...

Couldn't agree more: "most important thing is parents need to make sure their kids grow up to be a happy, balance and well adjusted persons".

I really pity those kids under pressure. They are kind of a project - they have to become what their parents have in mind in stead of having been given time and space to find their own identity ( especially in their teens). The behaviour by some of these parent towards their children sometimes is almost like testing the limits of a new car when you try to drive at maximum speed, ignoring the fact the engine is in the red zone already.

And by the way: Paxman is with a touch of genius indeed.

triesti said...

I would've probably be one of pushy moms, in the sense that I would make sure they learn music and sport/dance/art at least for several months. However, I dont believe in making kids into geniuses, nor making them having enhanced sensories/intuition.

I miss University challenge at the BBC