Do you want your child to win a Nobel prize?

originalsI am 50 pages into Adam Grant’s new book:  Originals – How Non-Conformists Move the World.  His previous book, Give and Take – Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, made me question some of our competitive structures in the field of education, and this new reading has me saying “yes, yes, yes!”.

The table on page 47, has me pondering the ongoing conflict within my school community:  our parents are consistent in their wish for “doctor, engineer, lawyer” for their children, and it’s a challenge to support their children in their choices to opt for courses in music, drama, visual arts, construction, design and media.  But maybe they REALLY wish to have a Nobel Laureate in the family?  If so, a study published in the Journal of Psychology of Science and Technology in 2008 may help them see broader options for their sons and daughters.

In a comparison of Nobel-winning scientists  to their colleagues of the era between 1901 and 2005, winners were twice as likely to have MUSIC as a hobby, seven times more likely to participate in the VISUAL ARTS, 7.5 times more likely to engage in crafts such as WOODWORKING, mechanics and electronics, 12 times more likely to be a writer, and twenty-two times more likely to be a DANCER, ACTOR or other type of performer.

Grant also cited a current study indicating that people who started BUSINESS ventures in the USA were more likely than their peers to have leisure hobbies that involved drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture and literature.

As we assist our young people to make choices for the next school year, I’m certainly going to be encouraging them, as always, to select a balance of all areas of study.  Education should broaden, not narrow, our students’ perspective on the world.

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