The Davidson Fellows Award Ceremony and the Career Education of Gifted Children
Last night I had the privilege of attending a reception at the Library of Congress honoring the 2005 Davidson Fellows. These gifted young people received $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000 scholarships for their original works, courtesy of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development (I co-wrote Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds with Jan and Bob Davidson, DITD’s founders).
The winners were a varied bunch. The Davidson Fellow Laureates (who received $50,000 scholarships) included Karsten Gimre, an 11-year-old who won for a musical composition, “Conversation Without Words,” and Tiffany Ko, a 16-year-old who did a technology project: “Designing a Capacitance-Based Security System Employing the MC33794 E-Field Sensor Chip.” A young man named Marc Yu (age 6) stole the show with his discussion about his “Performance Selections for Piano,” which won a $10,000 scholarship, and his thoughts on how societies should support their brightest young people.
I was mulling over the same topic last night, and it’s one I’d like to discuss with parents of gifted children. How we can help gifted children go from all this potential, and from these frighteningly precocious projects like I heard about last night, to solid, productive careers in their chosen professions? Even when you do great scientific research (such as Milana Zaurova’s “Gene Therapy Meets Chemotherapy: Exposure of Malignant Glioma Cells to Transgenic Embryonic Stem Cells and Temozolomide”) the path to becoming, say, a tenured science professor with the right equipment and grants at the best university for you isn’t straightforward. Few composers earn a living at their craft. How can we guide them into choosing work that supports their craft, or at least leaves them time to pursue it? As a writer, I can testify that I have seen many grown-up gifted children who were amazing writers struggle with the publishing industry and learning how to establish themselves in positions where they can write what the muses are telling them to write.
What should parents and schools (including colleges) do to help gifted children’s career development? Or is there much they can do? - Laura