Erik Hoel on the key ingredients for successful tutoring—
[T]he key ingredients, judged from some of the most stand-out and well-documented accounts, are
(a) the total amount of one-on-one time the child has with intellectually-engaged adults;
(b) a strong overseer who guides the education at a high level with the clear intent of producing an exceptional mind (in Mill’s case, his father, in Russell’s case, his grandmother, in Hamilton’s case, Knox, and we can look to modern examples like mathematician Terence Tao, whose parents did the same);
(c) plenty of free time, i.e., less tutoring hours in the day than traditional school;
(d) teaching that avoids the standard lecture-based system of unnecessary memorization and testing and instead encourages thinking from first principles, discussions, writing, debates, or simply overviewing the fundamentals together;
(e) in these activities, it is often best to let the student lead (e.g., writing an essay or poetry, or learning a proof);
(f) intellectual life needs to be taken abnormally seriously by either the tutors or the family at large;
(g) there is early specialization of geniuses, often into the very fields for which they would become notable (even, e.g., Hamilton’s childhood experience with logistics making him an ideal chief of staff for Washington’s war);
(g) at some point the tutoring transitions toward an apprenticeship model, often quite early, which takes the form of project-based collaboration, such as producing a scientific paper or monograph or book;
(h) a final stage of becoming pupil to another genius at the height of their powers, often as young adulthood is only beginning (Mill with the early utilitarians like the Bethams and his father, Russell with Whitehead, Hamilton with Washington).
From there, they are off and running. Earlier on in history, they often eventually became tutors themselves, as if they were an organism completing a life-cycle and returning to the place of its origins (e.g., Huygens, who was tutored by famous scientists of the day, tutoring Leibniz).
Christopher Beha on entertainment and art as an adult—
When the champion of adult culture is portrayed, even by himself, as an old curmudgeon yelling at the kids to get off his lawn, it suggests that this adult culture is one of the unfortunate but necessary costs of coming into adulthood. We give up the pleasures of entertainment for the seriousness of art. I just don’t think that this is true…
Much is taken from us as we pass out of childhood, but other human beings who have suffered these losses have created great works of art, works that can only be truly appreciated by those who have suffered the same losses in turn. These works are among the great recompenses that experience offers us. Putting down “Harry Potter” for Henry James is not one of adulthood’s obligations, like flossing and mortgage payments; it’s one of its rewards, like autonomy and sex. It seems to me not embarrassing or shameful but just self-defeating and a little sad to forego such pleasures in favor of reading a book that might just as easily be enjoyed by a child.