The Perfect Baby Blog

Newsflash: Mozart was average, just practiced a lot!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Kids of America, beware! The New York Times has just given your parents the okay to ruin your lives. Op-ed writer/sadist David Brooks, summarizing recent research into the genesis of genius, dismisses Mozart’s innate talent and credits his dad, Mr. Mozart Sr., for whipping the lame young composer into a superhuman:

What Mozart had, we now believe, was the same thing Tiger Woods had — the ability to focus for long periods of time and a father intent on improving his skills. Mozart played a lot of piano at a very young age, so he got his 10,000 hours of practice in early and then he built from there….The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a divine spark. It’s not I.Q….Instead, it’s deliberate practice.

WOLFGANG: Genetically negligible.

WOLFGANG: No-talent schmuck.

Terrific. This is, essentially, a reckless call for child abuse. Can’t you just see parents reading this and thinking, “Hmm…so simple. Deliberate practice,” and then putting their spark-less children on a grueling arpeggio schedule?

Brooks goes on to paint a scenario in which a young girl with a “slightly above average verbal ability” is driven to practice writing just a bit harder by a serendipitous death in the family.

It would also help if one of her parents died when she was 12, infusing her with a profound sense of insecurity and fueling a desperate need for success.

Great. So now those same plotting parents have to lie in bed and figure out which of them should selflessly expire:

Wife: “Honey, you do it…you’re so much better at doing things like putting up Ikea shelves and dying than I am. And, according to that nice David Brooks in The New York Times, Bethany really needs this extra push to reach the Mozart standard.”

Husband: “But, dear, Bethany depends on you so much more. If our goal is to infuse her with insecurity, you should really be the one to bite it.”

“But you bleed so well.”

“But you will look so pretty in your coffin.”

“I always have to do everything around here!”

Well played, Mr. Brooks.

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