talk about it more

a virtual baby book

When she was two, Fiona regularly said "Talk about it more!" to express her desire to know more about whatever we were discussing.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

No enforcement of chess genius here

Laszlo Polgar is a Hungarian chess theory expert and the father of three daughters: Zsuzsa, Zsofia, and Judit. Polgar and his wife Klara homeschooled their daughters with chess as a main subject, in order to test his thesis that "geniuses are made, not born." By any reasonable standard, it must be admitted that, in this case anyway, he was correct. All three have accomplished great things in the chess world.

It's not clear to me how this early training affected the Polgar sisters, but I just found out that Susan Polgar (er, Zsuzsa) has written a book explaining it all: Breaking Through. You can also read about it, and them, at Susan Polgar's web site.

Now, I am going to read the book. But never fear - we're NOT at all interested in churning out McKinney chess geniuses. If Fiona or Nora wants to learn chess and study it seriously and even devote their lives to the pursuit of chess ... or anything else ... we'll support them. But we won't be choosing the topic.

The value we place on individuality in the US does still make it possible to consider doing something like Lazslo Polgar's "experiment", but most of us dismiss the idea almost immediately. But in fact some parents come a lot closer to it than perhaps they'd like to admit. Most of us have heard stories about horrid parental behavior in some kind of competitive sport or game for kids. I wonder what that's like in Russia or other former Eastern Bloc countries. Probably very scary for a westerner, but perhaps it's a matter of course for them. Hmm ... I think there might be a doctoral thesis there somewhere.


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