Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child

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Penguin Press, 2006 - Education - 260 pages
Critically acclaimed author Alissa Quart breaks the news about an issue that will be of urgent concern to parents and educators as well as adult readers with "gifted" pasts: the dilemma of the gifted child. While studies show that children who are superior learners do benefit from enriched early education, the intensely competitive lives of America's gifted and talented kids do have risks. The pressure can have long-term effects in adult life, from debilitating perfectionism to performance anxiety and lifelong feelings of failure.

Quart traveled the country to research the many ways in which the current craze to "produce" gifted kids and prodigies has gone too far. Exploring the overhyped world of baby edutainment and "better baby" early education programs, she takes a hard look at the claims about educational toys and baby sign language. Taking readers inside the ever-more elite world of IQ testing, she reveals the proliferation of new categories of giftedness, including "terrifyingly" and "severely" gifted and examines the true value of such testing. Profiling the explosion of kid competitions-from Scrabble(tm) and chess to child preaching-she uncovers the dangers of such heated pressure to excel so early in life and exposes the prodigy hunters who search science and math fairs for teens to hire for Wall Street investment firms. Critiquing the professionalization of play, she visits with kids who've been identified as prodigies-from a four-year-old painter whose works sell for $300,000, to an eight-year-old professional skateboarder who is backed by nine corporate sponsors. Surveying expert assessments of the necessary role of unstructured play in child development, she warns about the disappearance of recess and the pitfalls of children's overstuffed schedules today. She also profiles the growing divide in opportunities for wealthy kids versus those from middle and lower income families who are losing out as gifted programs at public schools are gutted in the wake of the No Child Left Behind Act.

How should parents and educators draw the line? How much enrichment is too much, and how much is too little? What are we doing to our gifted kids? Alissa Quart's penetrating in-depth examination provides a much-needed wake-up call that will spark a national debate about this urgent issue.

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HOTHOUSE KIDS: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child

User Review  - Kirkus

A former child prodigy explores the pressures on gifted children to excel. Quart (Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers, not reviewed) has direct personal experience to draw on. "I learned to ... Read full review

Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This book reads more like a compilation of opinion pieces than a serious study of the issues. Freelance journalist Quart's (Branded ) bias is evident from the beginning-she herself is a former child ... Read full review


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About the author (2006)

Alissa Quart is the author of the acclaimed book Branded. She writes opinion pieces and book reviews for The New York Times and has written for The New York Times Magazine. A former gifted child, she started writing novels at age seven and won numerous national writing competitions. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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