A genius is generally considered to be a person who possesses an exceptionally high degree of cognitive ability, insight, scientific, mathematic, or creative talent, or originality of cognitive style or intellectual perception; that is, the ability to envision solutions or outcomes far beyond the skill set of the average individual.
There are marked differences in cognitive abilities across the human population, both within cultures and globally. Some people make very early strides in learning or creativity, well beyond the normative expectations; they are called geniuses. Although definitions of genius, or giftedness, are culture-bound and highly subjective, psychologists continue to engage in various forms of research in an effort to identify the most salient factors contributing to its emergence.
Toward the end of the twentieth century, William J. Fowler surveyed decades of scientific inquiry into the origins of genius. He found that 87% of the gifted children studied had been given substantial, intensive training by their parents at home, focusing on speech, reading, and mathematics. The parents of these gifted children had ambitious and often quite specific plans for their children. The parents were almost all from professional occupations; Fowler hypothesized that their relative educational and occupational privilege allowed them the time and money to devote intensive resources to the intellectual development of their children.
Psychologists have examined various home-tutoring techniques and have found that no single kind of stimulation turns a typical child into a gifted one. All methods seem beneficial, provided they center on language or math. Some researchers have suggested that the method matters little; the child is responding to the quantity of attention rather than to the content of what is being taught.
See also Cognition ; Giftedness ; Psychometrics ; Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales .
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