“Since the first moments of his existence, Taylor has complicated, confounded, and chaoticized nearly every detail of his family’s lives.”
So says Tom Clynes, author of the recently released and captivating book– The Boy Who Played With Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting And How to Make a Star.
Taylor Wilson, a profoundly gifted child, built a working nuclear fusion reactor at the age of 14.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Stop right there.
Just because you didn’t achieve nuclear fusion at 14 or even at 48, does not mean that you aren’t gifted. You probably, like Taylor, did complicate, confound and chaoticize your family’s life. At least some of the time. Am I right?
Rainforest minds (gifted minds) don’t all become obsessed with science or produce astonishing achievements.
But many do have “manic, metastasizing curiosity” like Taylor–along with a sense of wonder, idealism and a desire to make the world a better place.
Giftedness isn’t one-size-fits-all. The rain forest is ridiculously complex. Taylor is clearly in the genius category and so he is, as Clynes describes him, “scary-smart.” You may not be so scary. Reading Taylor’s story, will be both inspiring and educational no matter where you fall on the continuum.
What makes this book unique is that Clynes combines a compelling “coming-of-age narrative” with articulate well-researched advocacy for gifted kids. He’s a fresh, knowledgeable and welcome voice, especially for those of us who’ve been speaking out on this topic for years.
Here are some of the questions he addresses:
“…what does it take to identify and develop the raw material of talent and turn it into exceptional accomplishment? How do we parent and educate extraordinarily determined and intelligent children and help them reach their potential?”… “And how do we shift the course of an educational culture that has, for the past several decades, underchallenged the children it once regarded as its best hope?”
I’d say these are the important questions.
Not only that. Those of you who are parents will appreciate hearing about the numerous challenges Taylor’s parents faced and how they handled them. And it may soothe your own fears to realize that it could be worse. Chances are, your child isn’t storing radioactive materials in your garage.
Taylor’s parents had to learn how to respond to his irrepressible enthusiasm for learning and for blowing stuff up. “Taylor has always been obsessed with things…Whatever he got interested in, he just went crazy with it, nonstop. Even getting him to eat was a big trick. Sometimes it still is,” said Kenneth, Taylor’s dad.
And you’ll read how they struggled to provide him with an appropriate education, as do many parents of the rainforest-minded. Taylor’s parents wing it. Rather well.
“…parents who are courageous enough to give their children wings and let them fly in the directions they choose; schools that support children as individuals; a society that understands the difference between elitism and individualized education, and that addresses the needs of kids at all levels.”
Taylor’s story just may get us there.
To my blogEEs: I didn’t plan to write two book reviews in a row, dear readers. It just happened. I hope you’ve found them helpful. Let us know about the books you’re reading that have inspired you. And tell us if you read The Boy Who Played With Fusion. You’ll be glad you did!
This post is part of a collection of great posts from parents of gifted kids and professionals. Click on the link or the image to read more!