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IELTS Reading Passage: The Nature of Genius
The Nature of Genius
There has always been consistent interest in brilliance and genius. The word ‘genius’ took away the Latin gens (=family) and the word ‘genius’. The term ‘genius’, comes from the early Roman cult of a godliness as the head of the family. In its earliest form, brilliance or genius was concerned with the capacity of the head of the family, the father, to preserve himself. Slowly, brilliance came to constitute a person’s attribute and then an individual’s lofty characteristic obtained from his ‘brilliance’ or leading soul. Today, people still look to stars or heredity, horoscopes or ancestry, in the hope of discovering the source of unusual capacity or particular characteristics.
The idea of brilliance and of gifts has become part of our folk traditions, and attitudes are equivocal as regards them. We are jealous of the gifted and suspicious of them. In the folklore of giftedness, it is generally trust that if people are gifted in one place, they must be faulty in another, that intelligent are not practical, that genius blaze too luminously too soon and burn out, that gifted people are unconventional, that they are physical weaklings, that there’s a thin line in the middle of brilliance and insanity, that brilliance runs in families, that the gifted are so intelligent they don’t need exceptional help, that giftedness is the same as having a high IQ, that some people are more clever or musical or mathematical than others, that brilliance goes obscure and honorary, that misfortune makes men wise or that people with gifted have a authority to use them. Language has been enriched with such words as ‘intellectual’ , ‘scholar’, ‘elit’, ‘smart aleck’, ‘smarty’, ‘expert’ and for many, ‘intellectual’ is a word of defamation.The 19th centennial saw considerable interest in the nature of genius, and constructed not a few studies of popular genius. Maybe for us today, two of the most notable feature of most of these studies of prodigies are the frequency with which early motivation and tutoring by parents and teachers had advantageous effects on the mental, creative or musical evolution of the childrens but create great troubles of adaptation later in their lives, and the regularity with which capacity were not recognized by tutors and schools.
Although, the trouble with the proof produced by these studies, engrossing as they are in gathering anecdotes and obvious exceptions and similarities, is that they are not what we would today call norm-referenced. In other words, when for example, details are compiled about early sickness, methods of rearing, schooling,etc., we must also take into account details from further ancient sources about how usual or unusual these were at the time. For example, infant death rate was high and life anticipation much shorter than today, home tutoring was usual in the family of the virtuous and rich, bullying and spanking were usual at the best independent schools and, for the most part, the report was members of the wealthy classes. It was only with the growth of paediatrics and psychology in the 20th century that studies could be carried out on a more impartial, if still not always very technological basis.
Geniuses, whatever we describe, are but the peak which stand out via the haze of history and are obvious to the specific observer from his or her specific view point. By changing bystanders and the viewpoints and clearing away some of the haze, unique peaks will appear. Genius is a word we apply to those whom we acknowledge for their excellent attainments and who stand near the end of the continuation of human capacity which stretches out back through the humdrum and is ordinary to the incapable. There is still much veracity in Dr Samuel Johnson’s scrutiny, ‘The true genius is a mind of huge greater powers, accidently intent on to some specific direction’. We may differ with the ‘widespread’, for we are uncertain if all musicians of brilliance could have become chemists of brilliance or contrarily, but there is no mistrust the accidental resolution which tends or activates their gifts into those channels into which they have gushed their powers so profitably. Along the continuity of capacity are hundreds of thousands of gifted men and women, boys and girls.
What we value, enjoy or be amazed at in the works of brilliance or the attainments of genius are the demonstration of skills or capacity which are alike to, but so much above, our own. But that their minds are not dissimilar from our own reveal by the fact that the ambitious findings of analysts like Kepler or Einstein become the familiar knowledge of students and the once shocking shapes and colors of a creator like Paul Klee so soon appear on the clothes we wear. This does not reduce the greatness of their achievements, which outrun our own as the sub-four-minute milers outrun our jogging. To think of brilliance and the talented as having chiefly dissimilar brains is only sensible if we agree that each human mind is uniquely different. The motive of instruction is to make the US even more dissimilar from each and every one, and in the procedure of being taught we can learn from the greatest works of those more gifted than individuals. But, before we try to make our children imitate brilliance, we should note that some of the things we grasp from them may prove unpalatable.
We may get jealous of their attainments and fame, but we should also acknowledge the price they may have paid in terms of persistence, adamancy, dedication, restrictions on their personal lives, the demands upon their vitality and time, and how frequent they had to display great bravery to preserve their honesty or to make their way to the top.Genius and giftedness are related terms which have no real substance. We may, at best, give them some exactness by describing them and placing them in a context but, anyhow we do, we should at no time mislead ourselves into thinking that gifted children or geniuses are different from the r humankind, save in the degree to which they have improved the performance of their capacity.
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IELTS Reading Questions: The Nature of Genius
Choose FIVE letters, A-K.Write the correct letters in for the questions 1-5. NB Your answers may be given in any order. Below are listed some popular beliefs about genius and giftedness. Which FIVE of these beliefs are reported by the writer of the text?
A Truly gifted people are talented in all areas.
B The talents of geniuses are soon exhausted.
C Gifted people should use their gifts.
D A genius appears once in every generation.
E Genius can be easily destroyed by discouragement.
F Genius is inherited.
G Gifted people are very hard to live with.
H People never appreciate true genius.
I Geniuses are natural leaders.
J Gifted people develop their greatness through difficulties.
K Genius will always reveal itself.
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Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2?
In boxes 6-13 on your answer sheet, write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
6. Nineteenth-century studies of the nature of genius failed to take into account the uniqueness of the person’s upbringing.
7. Nineteenth-century studies of genius lacked both objectivity and a proper scientific approach.
8. A true genius has general powers capable of excellence in any area.
9. The skills of ordinary individuals are in essence the same as the skills of prodigies.
10. The ease with which truly great ideas are accepted and taken for granted fails to lessen their significance.
11. Giftedness and genius deserve proper scientific research into their true nature so that all talent may be retained for the human race.
12. Geniuses often pay a high price to achieve greatness.
13. To be a genius is worth the high personal cost.
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The Nature of Genius Reading Answers
1.B, C, F, H, J in any order
2..B, C, F, H, J in any order
3..B, C, F, H, J in any order
4..B, C, F, H, J in any order
5..B, C, F, H, J in any order
11. Not given
13. Not given
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