Making of a Prodigy – Anvitha Vijay
Recently, there was a query on popular portal Trip Advisor regarding suggestions for gifts for nine year girls. The responses came in thick and fast. Chocolates, teen perfume, Hannah Montana merchandises, Barbie dolls, ‘western’ outfits, t-shirt embossed with England’s flag, junk jewelry from Claire’s, handbags from H & M, I-pod, PlayStation, video games, glittery pink feathered pencils, puzzles, craft, clay modelling… the works! These are all indicators of the normal existence of a little girl. When prodigies emerge from the bustle of ‘normalcy’, it is admirable. What makes it extraordinary is when the prodigy is tech celebrity and the youngest app developer; possibly in the world.
Anvitha Vijay is the youngest app developer who is an Australian of Indian origin. At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2016, she was asked about her favourites at the keynote. Prompt came the reply,“I like the invisible ink because it looked like Harry Potter. I like the auto lock feature because I always wanted to do it quickly, like just get on with itbecause I sometimes start typing my search and then I have to delete it all.” (About Swift Playground) “I want to introduce it to my friends so that they can start coding with me too.”It is remarkable for a girl her age to demonstrate the sense of community development over individual growth. When Anvitha was 7 years old, she created an app concept named ‘GoalsHi’. Later she made two other apps named ‘Smartkins Animals’ and ‘Smartkins Rainbow Colors’. The former was to help children learn about animals and the latter was to facilitate color recognition and recall. Anvitha thinks that coding should be taught in schools so that children get into it. She wants to make a difference in the human lives through technology. The key to Anvitha’s success was not giving up, “Coding was so challenging. But I am so glad I stuck with it. Turning an idea into an app involves a lot of hard work. There are so many components to building an app, including prototyping, design, wireframing, user interface design, coding and then testing.”
The brain of a prodigy works on Long Term Working Memory which can hold information relevant to a specific field for an extended period of time. Larry R. Vandervert explains that the prodigy’s brain has accelerated collaboration between visual spatial working memory and other forms of thought. The working memory is a space in the brain which parks information for a while to reason and make decisions. The unique features in a prodigy are the emotional disposition and cognitive functions of the cerebellum (part of the brain which is at the back of the ear, at the base of the brain). Valdevert states that the prodigies have high level of repetitious focus in those knowledge domains which are governed by rules. Science, technology, music, mathematics, art are good examples of rule governed knowledge domains. Joanne Ruthsatz observed that two things are unusual in prodigies – their working memory and their high level of altruism, ‘They (prodigies) are benevolent souls.’ In an article, ‘Extraordinary Desire: How Child Prodigies are made?’ the author used the example of a Chinese pianist prodigy Lang Lang and stated that prodigies have to love what they are doing. “They can’t just be rote learners.” The article quotes Ken Noda, another prodigy pianist, “Inspiration must be refueled in order for a child prodigy to become a thriving adult.” New York Times published an article citing the problems adults face while raising prodigies and how one thing that works for a particular prodigy may not work with the other. “Given that there is no consensus about how to raise ordinary children, it is not surprising that there is none about how to raise remarkable children.” It is safer to bank on parental collaboration to raise and nurture a prodigy. David Henry Feldman and Lynn T. Goldsmith believe, “A prodigy is a group enterprise.”
Honing emotional sensitivity and genetic Intelligence Quotient of the prodigy, fanning the altruistic streak and creating an environment which tunes itself to the prodigy’s passion are important to the making of a prodigy. With this formulae, we can make more Anvitha Vijays. I am sure the girl herself will be thrilled at the thought because nothing gets a prodigy’s altruistic heart racing as much as more people becoming exceptional.
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