Scientists, Their Hobbies And Parenting Fallacy

A study published by the University of Michigan maintains that having a creative hobby develops a range of skills, right from hand-eye coordination to become better communicators.

Great scientists, their passions and what that teaches us about parenting?

Before we get to the above question, lovers of history, answer this trivia: What did Lady Ada Lovelace, the 18th-century pioneer of computer science, call her scientific work?  

A study published by the University of Michigan, based on Nobel laureates and other renowned scientists, titled 'Art Fosters Scientific Success' makes this surprising (or not-so-surprising?) discovery. It found that these path-breaking scientists were more likely than others to have a creative hobby. The hobbies ranged from painting, photography, dancing, composing and even acting.  

This is not one isolated study. Scientific researchers have been publishing numerous such papers, going back to the 1930s. Many of them include the study of scientists, geniuses and successful people. Most of them have similar conclusions. Having an active hobby, in an unrelated field plays a part in your success. 

History throws up some interesting examples. Charles Darwin, even as a child was an avid collector, collecting anything from minerals to insects. His interests ranged from travel and hunting to biology and palaeontology. Einstein's love for music is well known. His wife Elsa said that music helped him when he was thinking about his theories. Einstein himself asserted that imagination is more important than knowledge and that knowledge is limited.   

The study maintains that having a creative hobby develops a range of skills, right from hand-eye coordination to become better communicators. So, in a society with a relentless focus on grades especially in Math and Science, are we missing a point? We may be.  

But first, how does this make sense? One would be inclined to think that time and energy spent on an external hobby, is at best relaxation and at worst it takes away from a person becoming better at their chosen line of study or profession. The article argues the exact opposite. As one gets better in their hobby, they also get better in their vocation. Point to be noted is that it is about actively pursuing a creative hobby, actually doing, not just reading or watching.  

Let us look at it this way. In any field, to achieve proficiency, one has to solve problems that have not been solved before. This requires associative thinking, or what may be called free thinking, in which the mind wanders on unrelated topics and subjects. Exposure to diverse subjects could provide a chance of finding unique creative solutions. A coming together of the left brain (logical) and the right (creative) brain so to speak. 

That brings us around to the main question of this essay as to what this indicates for us as parents. Victor and Mildred Goertzel, writers of the seminal book Cradles of Eminence: Childhoods of More Than 700 Famous Men and Women, asserted that the homes of successful kids are full of books and stimulating material. We think it is time to provide your child with a healthy exposure to art, new ideas, and new experiences. Make it a part of your agenda. Get your child to cultivate and pursue a creative hobby seriously. Believe us, this has long term benefits. 

Coming back to the history question. Lady Ada Lovelace was the daughter of one of the most famous poets in the English language - Lord Byron. Despite being taught Mathematics and Logic she remained greatly interested in her father's work, and referred to her approach as Poetical Science!  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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