Outliers?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I'm currently listening to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. I'm only a fourth of the way into it, but I have to say, this is some fascinating reading (listening?). From Amazon's entry:
Challenging our cherished belief of the "self-made man," he makes the democratic assertion that superstars don't arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: "they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot."
When Gladwell describes how top Canadian hockey players tend to be born in the first part of the year due to the early advantage of several months of maturity when they play in the pee wee leagues, this made sense to me, and was self-evident. What I didn't realize was that this advantage doesn't disappear as the players age, but becomes a self-sustaining phenomenon. A player gets top coaching because they're physically more mature than their peers, so they become a better player, and play at a higher level, where they get better coaching, etc. He applies the same theory to scholastic programs that categorize children before the advantages of birth month levels out (about age 10).

Right now I'm listening to the portion of the book that talks about genius, and how after a certain point, additional IQ points do not necessarily translate into more brilliant ideas, or additional achievement - it's only important to be smart enough and educated enough. After that, Gladwell contends you reach the point of diminishing returns.

I'm still listening and thinking about Gladwell's thesis, but so far I would say this is a fascinating read that is giving me lots to think about.

3 comments:

Mummy Grabill said...

Sooo . . . I'm guessing that the fact that Alex was born in February is a good thing? Maybe he'll be an international hockey star? Or better yet, a football star!?

Janiece Murphy said...

You never can tell!!

Anne C. said...

Mummy Grabill, you were born in January... is that why everything seems to go so well for you? ;)