As parents, you have all most likely heard of the Nature vs Nurture argument. A theory in which we try and figure out if our child is automatically going to be the next Einstein or if we need to start pumping their brains with knowledge from the day they’re born. This argument is probably one of the most discussed around the conversation of child development and in this article, I will be sharing some of my thoughts and ideas on the subject.
People often use the phrase “natural born talent” and to me, this sounds ludicrous. It seems clear that a child is not automatically handed the gifts of greatness before they even enter the world. “Scientists will be the first to admit that no trait comes fully formed at birth, and there is plenty of variation unaccounted for to leave room for late bloomers” (Kaufman, S.B, 2013). I truly believe that any child surrounded by the right environment that provides the opportunity, ability to learn and time to practice their interests, can become whatever their heart desires. The idea of “practice makes perfect” is completely tangible and in our Breakfast, After School and Holiday clubs, this phrase comes into practice (no pun intended) all the time. Whether their interests being in sport or academia, our clubs aim to teach the children in our care that, if they work with passion and consistency, they can achieve greatness in whatever form they choose.
In fact, anyone can achieve greatness. If you’re reading this and believe that it is now “past your time” or that “it is too late” to achieve something you have always dreamt of doing, you’re wrong. If you can find time to put in work towards your desired goal, the more your brain will learn, grow and adapt to whatever it is you want to achieve. Think big. Think bold. Whether you want to be the next Oscar-winning actress or the world’s best track star, your dreams are within reach as long as hard work and determination come into play.
The idea of Neuroplasticity, “the brain’s ability to increase capacity in response to sustained experience” (Park, D.C. and Bischof, G.N., 2013) is a great example of how experience is a major factor in the key to success. “Factors that promote positive neuroplasticity include physical activity, education” and “social interaction” (Vance, D.E., Roberson, A.J., McGuinness, T.M. and Fazeli, P.L., 2010) which is why our clubs encourage all of these aspects with great confidence. As Thomas Jefferson said “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it”.
The more time we spend on doing the things that help us to achieve our goals, the further our knowledge and experience expands. This is applicable to any subject, sport or art and can be adapted in any manner. For example, if your child expresses interest in a certain sport, the way in which your child trains will have an effect on how advanced they can become. More training can lead to advanced playing. In academia, more time spent on revision and research can lead to advance knowledge on specific subjects and therefore can lead to expertise. I read a great study that discussed the talents of a group of musicians. “The two most accomplished groups of expert musicians were found to spend more time in solitary practice than the least accomplished group… the same time of solitary deliberate practice has been found to be closely correlated with the attainment of expert and elite performance in a wide range of domains” (Kaufman, S.B, 2013).
Ultimately, as you can see, I lean more towards the Nurture argument. Our children’s learning environments are extremely important in steering them onto the path of greatness. If we, as carers, teachers and parents, aid their passions with positive and motivational conversations alongside practice and education, their abilities become limitless.
By Jess Kokocinska
Thanks for reading!
Park, D.C. and Bischof, G.N., 2013. The aging mind: neuroplasticity in response to cognitive training. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 15(1), p.109.
Rapoport, J.L. and Gogtay, N., 2008. Brain neuroplasticity in healthy, hyperactive and psychotic children: insights from neuroimaging. Neuropsychopharmacology, 33(1), pp.181-197.
Vance, D.E., Roberson, A.J., McGuinness, T.M. and Fazeli, P.L., 2010. How neuroplasticity and cognitive reserve protect cognitive functioning. Journal of psychosocial nursing and mental health services, 48(4), pp.23-30.
Kaufman, S.B. ed., 2013. The complexity of greatness: Beyond talent or practice. Oxford University Press.