Clara Schumann: Five ingredients for a child prodigy (+video)

3. A 'rage to master'

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    A student at The Davidson Academy, a school for profoundly gifted students in Reno, Nev., works on a paper in a middle school composition class.
    Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor
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In her book "Gifted Children: Myths And Realities," Psychologist Ellen Winner uses the term "rage to master" to describe the motivation that precocious children have to become experts in their domains.

"They experience states of 'flow,' when they are engaged in their domain" she writes, alluding to a kind of mental state, first proposed in the 1960s by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in which a person is so joyfully immersed in their work that they tune out the outside world and even lose a sense of their own ego.

"The lucky combination of obsessive interest in a domain along with an ability to learn easily in that domain leads to high achievement," writes Winner.

"Composing gives me great pleasure," said Schumann. "There is nothing that surpasses the joy of creation, if only because through it one wins hours of self-forgetfulness, when one lives in a world of sound."

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