The term hot-housing children sounds like a practice destined to confine children into a life of prostitution. Yet, the term is not quite so sinister as that, at least in theory anyway!
Hot-housing children is the practice of isolating gifted kids with a view to expediting academic success at an early age. Most of us have no doubt read stories of kids deemed to be geniuses and admitted to some of the most prestigious institutes of learning in the world. The simple idea being that if you start them early then they will be productive early.
The case of Sufiah Yusof highlights just how badly this can go wrong. Sufiah was a child prodigy that seemingly had it all before her. Recognized for her academic and intellectual talents as a youngster and admitted to Oxford at just 13 years of age (picture borrowed from The Sydney Morning Herald).
The biggest problem I see, and I am no expert, is that if you are entering university at 10, 12, or 15 years old you are missing out the most fun years of primary and high school! So, you grow up to be a genius adult that has never had the nurturing fun years of childhood. Not being a psychologist seems irrelevant here because this kind of loss of childhood appears to be a recipe for disaster to me.
But back to the story the young genius Sufiah is now a 23 year old prostitute turning tricks for 130 quid an hour somewhere in Manchester (United Kingdom)! Maybe this is her choice and maybe it isn't but whatever the case it is still sad! It is a sad indictment of our community as a whole that we let a kid with so much potential be so poorly cared for and managed that she falls through the net and into a situation that has all the signs of turning into a case of "what could have been"...
Perhaps the answer is not universities for these child geniuses but perhaps some other specialized facility of advanced learning where their respective talents and interests can be developed amongst geniuses of the same age rather than in the broader university scene...maybe we need a genius to work this one out for us too!