The following is from the Aug. 14, 2007, edition of WFAA-TV

What makes a genius?


See the WFAA report.

It's the battle of nature versus nurture. Are kids born geniuses or do they become one through teaching?

For Samir Patel, music translates into math. At the age of 13, Patel is home schooled now, but he will start college courses in the fall.

"I work really, really, really hard," he said.

Many know Samir as the national Spelling Bee wiz. He said without the push from his mom, his trophies wouldn't be piled up.

"It takes someone who sees the potential to bring it out," said Jyoti Patel, Samir's mother. "So, I think it's 50/50 in the early stages."

Mrs. Patel said she nurtures Samir's natural aptitude to learn.

"Anything that helps exercise his brain in different ways will support his education," she said.

Jyoti said she jump starts Samir's curiosity by exposing him to adventure such as bungee jumping, animal watching and athletics.

Studies show learning to play a musical instrument in elementary school develops the way the brain thinks. For Samir, it helps with sequential skill development and problem solving.

Sam Mingo, 15, said he loves to play the drums and credits music for teaching him about hard work.

Mingo made it into a program called TAG, or Talented and Gifted at SMU, which is where teenage geniuses take college courses for the summer.

"I see how people are being raised today, procrastinating and just doing things as they please with no discipline at all," he said. "Being in tag, it takes discipline."

He said he has grown intellectually because his mom is strict.

"It's like training almost, military training," he said. "Come home. Do your chores. Eat. Sleep. Repeat."

Dr. Kathy Hargrove, an expert in the field (and associate dean in SMU's School of Education and Human Development), said every child is born with potential, and building on that means investing full-time in your child. She also said the first year is often the most important as a child develops.

"Intelligence is where nature interacts with nurture," she said.

Hargrove said parents should put their children in activities they themselves are not good at so that it can broaden their education. Since studies show kids mimic their parents, they will likely naturally learn activities that interest their parents.

"Exposing your child to every kind of experience you could possibly imagine, music, art, museums, vacations," she said. "Variety is the bottom line."

Read the full story.

# # #