The setting is that you, particularly, are not a genius, but you have some kind of responsibility for one. Maybe he’s your child, student, or employee, and you are interested in helping him develop his talent.
(Does anyone actually do this? I hear a lot of talk about “mentors” but I’ve never actually seen it. The one thing I can think of is when Zeke gave me a 15-week course in basic Christian doctrine. Thanks bro!)
It is very difficult to teach anything to a genius that they aren’t inclined to learn. Parents of geniuses almost always fall to one of two extremes: giving up on teaching them anything (either from apathy or because they feel inadequate) or pushing them too hard to excel in their field of interest (either out of misguided “tough love” or vicarious ambition). It is also counterproductive to require geniuses undergo a structured education in the subject of their particular obsessions- they would learn their subject(s) much more quickly and effectively if left to their own devices. Finally, like all intelligent and/or creative people it is common for larval geniuses to become shiftless and lazy, and thereby become useless.
There is still hope! This is inspired by part of a comment by Nicholas Fulford on another old Charlton post. Actually, I disagree with everything else he says in the comment, but this part resonates with me:
The mind grows best with a variety of stimuli, and so while a student should be allowed to accelerate in their strengths, they must spend as much time on their weaknesses. They will be drawn by competency to do well in their strengths, but will find the necessity of perseverance in working on their weaknesses. Reward should be as much and sometimes more for growing in their weaknesses, as it is psychologically much tougher.
Commenting on: The Genius’s Journey- Destiny, Quest, Illumination
Geniuses are acutely aware of their weaknesses and can be convinced to spare small portions of their precious time to learn productive skills that will help them to create more in the long term. This solution teaches character and resolves both of the common parenting errors. I would recommend two hours or less per day of such structured education (including homework, if applicable), so as to allow relatively more time for obsessive-compulsive learning and creativity. One example, stealing an idea from altrugenics poster Auriga, would be to enroll a romantically hopeless genius in swing dance classes. (You may first need to convince the genius that passing on their genes is worth the effort. Traditionally, they do not reproduce and often find women to be repulsively materialistic.)
Using myself for another example, I will grudgingly admit the usefulness of a structured educational setting for purely technical topics- math, grammar, modern languages- that hold no intrinsic interest for me but would help me to do more creative stuff in the long run. (I’m using “technical” in the etymological sense- relying primarily on correct application of rote technique.)
This admission does not mean that I won’t still destroy Harvard as soon as the opportunity presents itself. The rot in higher academia runs far too deep to be tolerated, and the perversion of it sickens me.